2000-06-15 - Felix and Drusilla
Acts 24:22-27 But Felix, having a more exact knowledge about the Way, put them off, saying, "When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case." 23 And he gave orders to the centurion for him to be kept in custody and yet have some freedom, and not to prevent any of his friends from ministering to him. 24 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. 25 And 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." 26 At the same time too, he was hoping that money would be given him by Paul; therefore he also used to send for him quite often and converse with him. 27 But after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus; and wishing to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul imprisoned. (NAS)
Felix was a self-made man. Felix had begun life as a slave. The outlook for his life to rise above meager means was bleak. Through a political event in the life of his family with relatives involved in Rome, he had been granted his freedom. He rose through life to his current position to be the Governor of all Judea.
Drusilla, 19-year old, very attractive lady - everything going for her. She was the daughter of Herod the Great who was struck down by God and eaten by worms when he accepted praise that belonged to God. She was steeped in astrology and the occult. She was related by birth and by marriage to many of the other Herods. She was the wife of the Prince of Assyria. She was lead away from her husband by Simon the Sorcerer, who Paul and John told him "Your money perish with you!" when he tried to buy the secret of the power of God from them. He was wooed away into an adulterous relationship where we find her in these verses.
They were very much into life for themselves.
So why is it that we find the Apostle Paul standing before these two who we might have suspected God would have judged a long time ago? Paul had been promised that he would stand before Kings and those in political power. Felix knew of the Way from Simon. He was intimately familiar with Christianity. Paul recounted the gospel clearly to Felix until he was so uncomfortable that Felix dismissed Paul. Yet, he knew that what Paul said was true. Out of that conviction, he gave Paul a limited amount of freedom. Paul was afforded by God a time of rest in Caesarea, one of the most beautiful cities in the Roman world. Drusilla would have been familiar with Christianity through the teaching of John the Baptist told to her by her sisters and sisters-in-law. Herod the Great knew the scriptures well enough to send soldiers to murder all the male children under two years old in an effort to kill the coming Messiah King.
So why is Paul standing here? He is bent over from beatings, nearly blind, scared from whips and rods that have beaten him for the cause of Christ. Felix had moved from slavery to power. Paul had moved from power to being a willing slave for Jesus Christ. Why was Paul here? Because God loved Felix and Drusilla enough to send Paul with one more call to come home. God sent Paul to say, "God loves you, enough to have come and died for you." It is the same gospel we have today.
Eph 6:19-20 and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (NAS)
Paul was in jail for the Gospel when he wrote this to the church at Ephesus. He didn't say, pray that God would get me out of here. His heart was to stay and speak to the judges and governors and eventually to Caesar with the story of how much God loved them.
We don't hear of how Drusilla reacted to this good news. She died at 21 in a volcanic eruption, overcome by a flow of lava. But we know that Felix became convicted in his heart to the point where he dismissed Paul rather than agree with him. Whether it was peer pressure of having his assembled contemporaries around, not wanting to lose face in front of his wife, or a proud refusal to let go of his current situation, he refused the message he knew to be true. Felix lost everything he held dear. He left office in disgrace. The thing he trusted in withered away.
Pro 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. (NAS)
Felix chose to trust in his own wisdom and strength over the reveled will of God. He had trembled at what he heard and turned his back on the gospel. It collapsed out from under him. The things of this world are passing at best. I challenge you to hear what Paul had to say to Felix. Jesus Christ is the same today as He was then. His love for you is the same as it was for Felix and Drusilla. He loves us all and offers the same opportunity. Felix tried to hold on to it all and lost it all. Let go of it all to hold on to God and he will full your life with all the good things He has for you. It many not be money and power, but your heart will be satisfied.
Lord Jesus - give us the courage and the faith to let go of the things we hold important to grab on to you. These things will pass away to dust, but You will endure forever. Amen.
Grace & Peace,