Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned to him to speak, answered…
I. FELIX'S IMPRESSION OF PAUL.
1. Paul's address. He was in trouble. There had been a tumult. As to the cause of it there were two sides to be heard. Every advantage had been taken of whatever in the circumstances seemed against Paul. Paul's reply has in it four heads.
(1) Introduction. Tertullus had begun with flattery. Paul begins with respect.
(2) Rebuttal. He mentions the brief time he had been in Jerusalem — entirely insufficient to accomplish all the deep plots alleged against him by the Jews.
(3) Explanation. How had he happened to be in Jerusalem at all, and what was he doing in the temple?
(4) Demand for evidence.
2. The characteristics of this speech probably made a deeper impression on Felix than its contents.
(1) Candour. Paul was evidently telling as plainly, fully, and simply as he could the very truth. He did not overdo the matter. An experienced judge is not often deceived as to the honesty of a witness.
(2) Fearlessness was evident in every word of Paul's. He was not overcome by the danger of his situation.
(3) Uprightness was written over every word which Paul uttered. Paul was one who, without counsel, might say all he would; for he was a good man.
3. What was the effect of this speech upon Felix?
(1) He recognised that no case had been made out against Paul. The main witnesses had, for some unaccountable reason, not been brought into court.
(2) A postponement for further inquiry followed.
(3) At the same time his sense of right, being still feebly operative (as in Pilate), will not allow him to treat the prisoner as though he had been convicted of crime.
II. FELIX'S IMPRESSION OF CHRISTIANITY.
1. He had some curiosity about it, and after certain days came and sent for Paul and heard him speak about Jesus Christ.
2. Paul's speech.
(1) The subject. The whole of Paul's address is not preserved.
(a) Righteousness is the aim of the Christian life. Christ died that He might purify from us the guilt of sin and impute to us His own righteousness. To be holy as God is holy, and so to glorify Him by reflecting His excellence, is the chief end of man.
(b) Temperance, or self-control; referring to the subjugation of the passions and the holding of the whole life in submission to the will of God. This in a certain sense is the negative side of the righteousness which Paul has just mentioned.
(c) Judgment to come. Christianity derives its hold upon many men by appealing to high motives and ambitions.
(2) These themes, doubtless treated in a general way, had also their personal application. Preaching truth is preaching such truth as the hearers ought to have preached to them. Yet Paul was not offensive. He was personal in the way he chose his subject, but not in the manner of its delivery, so far as we can see.
3. No wonder that Felix was convicted by this address, No wonder his heart was smitten with fear. He had been used to association with sycophants, who would flatter him in the face and stab him in the back. What a privilege to truly know one's self, even if it be to find defects, for that is the way to perfection. But such an experience is not comfortable.
III. FELIX'S DISPOSAL OF CHRISTIANITY.
1. He let the bad elements in him prevail.
2. Consequently he was led to postpone his dealing with the matter of his relation to God.
3. Why is it that postponing the receiving of salvation is so apt to be its complete rejection? Because —
(1) It is going back again to the ever-increasing domination of sin;
(2) Conscience unanswered becomes deadened and its voice is more and more feeble;
(3) The desire for a nobler life awakened in us by the Holy Spirit is subdued when unsatisfied;
(4) We are not so susceptible to the presence of the Spirit when we do not obey Him. So far as we know men, they do not mean to be lost.
1. The Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword. It searches us out. It "finds" us (as Coleridge said).
2. Selfishness is the cause of men's rejection of Christ. They love their sinful ways too well to deny self and follow Him.
3. The great lesson is that postponing the acceptance of Christ is eternally dangerous. Suspect every motive that keeps you from Christ. No such motive is adequate and justifiable.
(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself: