Lesser known characters :: Felix

Felix was the Roman governor during the days of Paul. When Ananias the high priest and Tertullus a lawyer brought charges against Apostle Paul, stating that he was a troublemaker and the leader of the sect of the Nazarenes (followers of Christ Jesus who was from Nazareth), to Felix, Paul mounts his defense against Ananias and Tertullus about the Way (of Salvation through Jesus Christ, the resurrected Lord). The Bible says that Felix had perfect knowledge of the Way, meaning that he was aware of the belief of the Christians (Acts 24:22). Felix does not immediately try Paul, but wishes to do so in front of Lysias, the chief captain and until then keeps Paul under guard (imprisoned). After a few days, he and his wife Drusilla, who was the daughter of king Agrippa, come and listen to Paul concerning Paul’s faith in Christ and when Paul reasoned with Felix of impending judgment and the need of being imputed righteousness through belief in Jesus, and matters of temperance, Felix becomes afraid (trembles) and states that he will wait for a more convenient time to discuss faith matters. Felix continues to keep Paul imprisoned and expecting bribes, he sends for Paul often and talks with Paul. For two years, Felix leaves Paul imprisoned, in order to please the Jews. Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus.

What can we learn from Felix?
Felix had perfect knowledge of the Way but in order to please the Jews who brought charges against Paul, Felix imprisons Paul. Clearly Felix sins here for knowing to do the right thing and not doing it, for him it is sin (James 4:17). We must not refrain from doing that which is the right thing to do. Secondly, Felix (and his wife Drusilla) came to hear of Paul’s faith in Jesus Christ, and when he is given the message of righteousness, temperance and judgment, instead of responding to the call to be righteous, by simply believing in Jesus Christ, Felix chickens out and pushes his decisions to what he calls a more “convenient” time. The best time to respond to God is now (2 Corinthians 6:2). Thirdly Felix’s covetousness of materialistic things (bribes), made him want to come and talk often with Paul, but what is unfortunate is that Felix’s mind was focussed on what he could get materialistically instead of what really mattered which is Salvation in Christ Jesus. Fourthly for his fear of displeasing the jews, Felix continued in the baseless imprisonment of Paul for two years (again knowing the right thing to do, but not doing it). Trying to please men over God can make us do some foolish things against God and his people. Let us not be like Felix.

Acts 24:22-27 (KJV)
And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of that way, he deferred them, and said, When Lysias the chief captain shall come down, I will know the uttermost of your matter.
23 And he commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.
24 And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.
25 And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.
But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.