Daily Devotional

October 18, 2019

Daybreak: Acts 24:1-27

“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.” (Acts 24:25)

Procrastinating when God’s Spirit calls is extremely dangerous. When Jim Gilmon was young, he had rheumatic fever, and the doctor told him he would never be healthy. Jim promised God his life if He would heal him, and God did. However, Jim broke his promise. He chose to travel down a pathway of sin, but God never let him forget his prayer.

One night, while under the influence of liquor, Jim was in an automobile accident. The doctors tried everything they could to restore him to consciousness with no success. Then the people at his mother’s church prayed. When he regained consciousness, he promised to serve God if He would get him out of the hospital. God did His part, but once again, Jim did not.

Later, as a logging truck driver, Jim had a truck loaded with logs get away from him. It rolled over two and a half times into a canyon. When the truck quit rolling, he was afraid to move for fear it would roll more. With his head on the seat, he cried out to God. Again, God spared his life, and he climbed out of that accident with only a few scratches. But still he was not ready to give up his life of sin.

Over a year later, Jim stopped alongside the road to look at a wrecked car. A woman was in the back seat calling for help and a man was dead under the steering wheel. Jim said, “Right then it seemed God spoke out of Heaven to me and said, ‘You are going to be next.’ I knew I was heading the wrong way, and I did not want to die in the condition I was in.

“The prayers of my parents and their Christian friends were being answered. I told myself I would go to church the next Sunday, but I did not. What conviction settled on me that night! I could not sleep. Finally I phoned my parents, and they told me to come to their home. They called the minister, and at an old davenport, I knelt to pray. I said, ‘I don’t know how to pray.’ My dad responded, ‘Ask Jesus to be merciful to you a sinner.’ When I did, the Lord did not turn me away. He saved me that night. He delivered me from drinking and from the cigarette habit — things I could not stop in my own power. He changed my filthy tongue. Thank God, he made me a new creature.”

Jim served God until he passed away in December 1977. Numerous times he had postponed fulfilling his promises to God and rejected opportunities to be saved. Yet when God mercifully continued to call after his soul, he finally did yield.

What a contrast Jim’s story is to that of Felix in today’s text. Felix also had opportunities to surrender his heart to God. He was familiar with the Jewish laws and beliefs, and then Paul presented the Gospel to him. Felix seemed intrigued — he even trembled at Paul’s words. Yet he hesitated to act. Although he did call for Paul again and again, the Bible does not record that he ever actually gave his heart to God.

It is vital to respond to the call of God’s Spirit. There is no promise that He will call again, so waiting for a “convenient season” could be disastrous. How much better to surrender immediately to God!

Background

Paul had been taken by military escort from Jerusalem to Caesarea to appear before the governor, Felix. In this chapter, the accusations of the Jewish elders were stated, and Paul gave his defense to Felix.

Tertullus, a professional prosecutor, likely had been hired by the high priest (Ananias), and paid from the coffers of the Temple. The Greek word for orator originally meant “public speaker,” but was used also for “lawyer” or “attorney.” It is unknown whether Tertullus was a Roman, Greek, or Jew.

Felix was born a slave, as was his mother, and apparently was freed by Antonia, mother of Emperor Claudius. Because his brother was favored by Claudius, Felix was made procurator of Judea. He was a cruel ruler, and under his leadership the Jewish rebellion became worse. Felix had been married three times; each wife was from a royal family. His wife at this time was Drusilla, a Jewess who was the daughter of Herod Agrippa I and sister of Herod Agrippa II. She previously had been married to the king of Emesa until Felix, with the help of Simon the magician, won her hand. Felix was well-versed in Jewish customs, not only because his wife was a Jewess, but also because he had spent a number of years living in Palestine.

Paul explained to Felix that the purpose of his presence in Jerusalem was to bring alms to the Jews there. This gift had been gathered for Christian Jews from Gentile churches in the provinces of Macedonia, Achaia, Galatia, and possibly others. His purpose was to unify the Jews and Gentiles in the Church into one body, making them interdependent and appreciative of one another.

Knowing that it could not be proven that Paul had profaned the Temple, the Jews modified their charge to say he had “gone about” to profane it. Paul had been seen in the company of a Gentile before entering the Temple, and it was assumed that he had brought this man into the Temple with him. However, even if that had been so, the Gentile, not Paul, would have been worthy of death under the Jewish Law.

In Acts 24:21 Paul repeated what he stated in Acts 23:6 — that the real issue was his affirmation of the resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees also believed in resurrection, although more strongly in the case of those who were righteous than for the unrighteous. This was a theological question, rather than a crime against Roman or Jewish Law.

Felix deferred, or called a temporary halt to the proceeding, until the chief captain Claudius Lysias could come, although no indication was given that he was actually coming. This ploy was basically to buy time, because Felix feared that releasing Paul would cause a riot among the Jews. He kept Paul in prison hoping for a bribe, and when Festus came to take over, he left Paul bound to please the Jews. He failed on both accounts; he never received money from Paul, and the Jews filed a complaint against him to Rome.

Amplified Outline

(Hannah's Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)

IV.    The witness “unto the uttermost part of the earth”
    E.    The journey of Paul to Rome
        2.    His witness in Caesarea
            a.    Paul’s defense before Felix (24:1-27)
                (1)    The setting (24:1)
                (2)    The accusations of Tertullus (24:2-9)
                (3)    The reply of Paul (24:10-21)
                (4)    The consequences (24:22-27)

A Closer Look

  1. What were the four accusations against Paul, as stated by Tertullus? (verses 5-6)

  2. Do you think Felix believed Paul’s statements of defense? Why or why not?

  3. Paul delivered the Gospel message to Felix a number of times, even though Felix failed to respond. What does this tell us about our duty to share the Gospel even if we do not see a positive response?

Conclusion

Each person has a choice to respond promptly to God’s call or to postpone. How much better to choose to yield to the Lord!

Reference Materials