Over the years I've listened and watched people with sadness, who are in the same category. The pleasures of this world is all they desire. Eternity is never in their minds, only what the day can bring, what can be achieved, and gained for those pleasures- everything is on a base, sensual level. Trying to reach someone in this realm of living is met with the same result Paul reached- change the subject, or stopped completely. But, regardless of Felix's response, Paul was able to bring the message he needed to hear-and on the day of Judgment, Felix will have no excuse for rejecting what he heard. Paul's mission was completed- what Felix did with the truth he heard was his responsibility.
When a Christian witnesses to people, regardless of the outcome or reaction from the one they speak to, the success or failure is not just in whether the person is saved right then-it's just as important what that person does with the truth he/she has heard. We are to speak the truth, that's our responsibility, we aren't responsible for what they do with it- they are.
Below are commentaries which give excellent insights on this encounter between Paul and Felix, and much can be gained studying them. My ministry is more as a teacher, which is why I post material like this-to give as much information and good sound biblical correspondence as possible. To me, going into a study like this is very interesting, perhaps you will find this food for your soul as well. These studies can be of great value to help us to know how to handle the circumstances we face in our daily lives, and our work in witnessing, and serving the Lord in our capacities.
Let's begin by reading the scripture account:
Act 24:24 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.
Act 24:25 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.
Act 24:26 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.
Act 24:27 But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.
Felix came with his wife Drusilla. This woman, a Jewess, was the daughter of the Herod who died miserably at Cæsarea (Act_12:23), and the sister of King Agrippa and Bernice (Act_25:23). She was very beautiful and very profligate, had been the wife of Azizus, the king of Emesa, but had left him and married Felix. Perhaps the interest she felt in Paul was due to the fact that her father had been a persecutor of the Christians, had died a singular death, and this had been pronounced a judgment.
As he reasoned. They, no doubt, expected that he would speak of doctrine, but instead he spoke of the life that ought to be lived, with special reference to those who sat before him in such state and glory. When he spoke of righteousness, he spoke of justice to a judge who held this office only for the sake of gain and who took bribes. When he spoke of temperance, he rebuked the unbridled sway of the passions and of lust. When he spoke of judgment, he pictured the judgment scene when the unjust and impure of earth shall be called to account. With such power he spoke that the stern Roman trembled before the poor prisoner in his power.
Go thy way. Felix does not resent; he is too powerfully moved, but he puts off. Thus thousands destroy their souls.
He hoped that money. Almost every Roman governor took a province in order to enrich himself, and hence would welcome bribery and every species of corruption. Felix was no worse than the average official of his time.
But after two years. It was in the autumn of A. D. 60 that Felix was removed.
Porcius Festus came in Felix' room. This officer was more upright, according to Josephus, than most Roman governors, but died in the second year of his office.
Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure. He was recalled, because grave accusations were made against him. Had he released Paul, it would have intensified the enmity of the Jews, and hence he was turned over as a prisoner to his successor.
ii. Felix put off Decision
1. “Felix answered, Go thy way for this time; and when I have a convenient season, I will call thee unto me.” Felix broke off the audience, saying that when he found another opportunity he would summon Paul again for a public audience. But Paul remained in Cæsarea two full years waiting for the second hearing. Felix did indeed send for Paul again—but we do not read that he felt any emotion again. He communed with him often. But why? Was it to deepen his impression? Was it that he might obtain more perfect knowledge of the way of Christ? Was it that he might better learn how to flee from that wrath of God at which he shuddered? The sacred historian shall tell us why he sent for Paul, and communed with him often. “He hoped that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him.” All that was meanest, all that was basest, all that was most unrighteous in the man had revived again, and in all its old strength and malignity.
If we take a bit of phosphorus and put it upon a slip of wood, and ignite the phosphorus, bright as the blaze is, there drops from it a white ash that coats the wood, and makes it almost incombustible. And so when the flaming conviction, laid upon our hearts, has burnt itself out, it has coated the heart, and it will be very difficult to kindle the light there again.
The great bell of Moscow, the largest bell in the world, was east more than two hundred years ago, and has never been raised, not because it is too heavy, but because it is cracked. All was going well at the foundry, when a fire broke out in Moscow. Streams of water were dashed in upon the houses and factories, and a tiny little stream found its way into the bell-metal at the very moment when it was rushing in a state of fusion into the colossal bell-mould, and so the big bell came out cracked, and all its capacity of music was destroyed. The historic incident presented itself as a symbol of our thought. Here is a divinely-given impulse, like soft and molten metal, just flowing into the mould of our first thought, and hardening into noble and steadfast decision. And an insidious doubt or compromise is allowed to have its way, and trickle in at the vital moment when impulse is just shaping into the image of the divine likeness, and all is spoilt, and the bell of heavenly impulse does not ring out the music of a redeemed and sanctified life. It is this intrusion of the compromise that works such destruction in our spiritual life. Life would abound in heavenly bell-music if we took every divine impulse and offered it the mould of a ready and willing decision. “Teach me to do Thy will.”
Take my feet, and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
2. What is a convenient season? It is a season when you can do a thing just as easily as not. When a friend asks you to do something, if convenient, you answer: “Oh yes; it is entirely convenient. No trouble at all.” That is what is meant by a convenient season. Well, does a convenient season ever come to repent? It never does. A man has to put himself to great inconvenience when he makes the change.
The Apostle spake of judgment just,
And certain unto men as death;
Prince Felix felt as if the thrust
Of deadly arrows stayed his breath:
“I’ll hear thee at convenient time,”
He said, his terror to dissemble;
But when can guilt conveniently
Invite the truth that makes it tremble?
3. “Go thy way,” said Felix. If only we could be sure that a voice was God’s, we would obey it swiftly and gladly; but the pain of life is that its silences are so long, and so seldom broken by a voice which we can with confidence welcome as divine. But is that voice so very rare? or is it not rather that we have not schooled ourselves to understand the language in which it speaks? For it sometimes speaks as a rising terror in the heart. “Go away,” cries Felix, in a sudden access of terror. It is to Paul that he is speaking, but what are those awful words but a tragic farewell to God—the God who was pleading with him through the mighty presence of Paul?
The peasants of southern Russia say that an old woman was at work in her house when the Wise Men of the East, led by the star, passed on their way to go and seek the infant Saviour. “Come with us,” they said. “We are going to find the Christ so long looked for by men.” “Not now,” she replied. “I am not ready to go now; but by and by I will follow on and find Him with you.” But when her work was done the Wise Men had gone, and the star in the heavens which went before them had disappeared.
There are two sworn enemies of my soul. Their names are Yesterday and To-morrow. Yesterday slays his thousands. What he seeks to do is to plunge me down into darkness and despair. “You have had your chances,” he says, “such golden chances, and you have trampled them all under foot. There will be no more priceless opportunities for you.” Ay, but To-morrow slays his tens of thousands. He has recourse to just the opposite expedients from those of Yesterday. Brave vows and valiant promises that will never be fulfilled; good resolutions that may lull my conscience into sleep,—these are his deadly weapons. When I have a convenient season, he bids me say to the Saviour and the Spirit of God, I will send for Thee. And how pitifully often the convenient season never dawns.
4. “Go thy way.” Let us think what reasons influence us to make this reply.
(1) First, there is the instinctive, natural wish to get rid of a disagreeable subject,—much as a man, without knowing what he is doing, twitches his hand away from the surgeon’s lancet. So many of us do not like these thoughts of the old Book about “righteousness and temperance and the judgement to come,” and make a natural effort to get our minds away from the contemplation of the subject because it is painful and unpleasant. But would it be a wise thing for a man, if he began to suspect that he was insolvent, to refuse to look into his books or to take stock, and let things drift, till there was not a halfpenny in the pound for anybody? What would his creditors call him? And is it not the part of a wise man, if he begins to see that something is wrong, to get to the bottom of it, and as quickly as possible to set it right? What do we call people who, suspecting that there may be a great hole in the bottom of the ship, never man the pumps or do any caulking, but say, “Oh! she will very likely keep afloat until we get into harbour”? Would it not be a wiser thing, if, because the subject is disagreeable, we should force ourselves to think about it until it became agreeable?
(2) Some of us say to the messenger of God’s love: “Go thy way for this time,” because we do not like to give up something that we know is inconsistent with His love and Service. Felix would not part with Drusilla, nor disgorge the ill-gotten gain of his province. Felix therefore was obliged to put away from him the thoughts that looked in that direction. Felix was ambitious. He was unpopular with the Jews, but this was in his favour at Rome. He might become emperor. Who could tell? To turn Christian would ruin his prospects. His duty was clear enough, but just now it stood in his way of personal elevation.
(3) Some of us fall into this habit of putting off the decision for Christ, simply by letting the impressions made on our hearts and consciences be crowded out of them by cares and enjoyments and pleasures and duties of this world. And if some stray seed here and there remains and begins to sprout, the ill weeds which grow apace, spring up with ranker stems and choke it. We did not intend it to go, we simply opened the door to the flocking in of the whole crowd of the world’s cares and occupations, and away went the shy solitary thought which, if it had been cared for and tended, might have led us at last to the Cross of Jesus Christ.
(4) But the fourth reason brings the most grist to the Devil’s mill. It is the inherent tendency in men to procrastinate and to compromise. Remember the foolish virgins who found it too late to enter in; the guests called to the feast, who chose rather to look after their worldly interest, and thus were shut out from the kingdom of God; the people whom Christ called, and who wanted first to attend to their friends and business, and with whom Christ would allow no delay. Can we help seeing that what makes people put off in worldly business and put off in religion is exactly the same thing, namely, a dislike to what has to be done, and that the dislike is not likely to become less by this waiting for a more convenient season?