Paul’s Message to Felix

Paul before Felix

After Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, he was taken to Caesarea where he had the chance to speak with Felix the governor. The apostle used this opportunity not to plead with the governor to release him, but to deliver a message from the gospel that Felix needed to hear.

But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, ‘Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you’” (Acts 24:24-25).

The points that Paul discussed with Felix are necessary for all of us today. Let us briefly consider them:

  • Righteousness – This is about doing what God wants us to do. In the gospel, “the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith” (Romans 1:16-17). We are expected to obey the gospel (cf. Romans 6:17; Hebrews 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:8). John wrote, “Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7). Righteousness is not a status that is conferred to us; rather, it is the way we live our lives.
  • Self-control – This is about not doing what God does not want us to do. Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). We are expected to put away sin from our lives (Romans 6:6-7, 11-18; 1 John 2:1). We must “live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2).
  • Judgment to come – This is about our accountability before God. He will judge us for our righteousness (doing what He wants us to do) and self-control (not doing what He does not want us to do). “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he described this judgment: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). In the end, we will answer to the Lord for how we have lived up to His standard.

Interestingly, Luke indicated that Paul’s message to Felix was about “faith in Christ Jesus” (Acts 24:24). This means that faith is about more than just acknowledging Jesus as the Christ. Living righteously, exercising self-control, and making preparations for God’s judgment are part of the message of faith.

Paul wrote, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Are we living righteously? Are we exercising self-control? Are we prepared for the judgment? If not, then we might tremble as Felix did when the truth is taught (Acts 24:25, KJV). But we do not have to live in fear. We can live in such a way as to please the Lord and be ready for the final judgment, but we must be willing to make the necessary changes in our lives to conform to His will.

If you need to make changes in your life, do not be like Felix and put it off for a “convenient season” (Acts 24:25, KJV). James wrote, “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Now is the time to be obedient to the Lord.


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