Verse 27. "After two years" - That is, from the time that Paul came prisoner to Caesarea.
"Porcius Festus" - This man was put into the government of Judea about A.D. 60, the sixth or seventh year of Nero. In the succeeding chapter we shall see the part that he took in the affairs of St. Paul.
"Willing to show the Jews a pleasure" - As he had not got the money which he expected, he hoped to be able to prevent the complaints of the Jews against his government, by leaving Paul, in some measure, in their hands. For it was customary for governors, &c., when they left, or were removed from a particular district or province, to do some public, beneficent act, in order to make themselves popular. But Felix gained nothing by this: the Jews pursued him with their complaints against his administration, even to the throne of the emperor. Josephus states the matter thus: "Now when Porcius Festus was sent as successor to Felix, by Nero, the principal of the Jewish inhabitants of Caesarea went up to Rome, to accuse Felix. And he certainly would have been brought to punishment, had not Nero yielded to the importunate solicitations of his brother Pallas, who was at that time in the highest reputation with the emperor."-Antiq. lib. xx. cap. 9. Thus, like the dog in the fable, by snatching at the shadow, he lost the substance. He hoped for money from the apostle, and got none; he sought to conciliate the friendship of the Jews, and miscarried. Honesty is the best policy: he that fears God need fear nothing else. Justice and truth never deceive their possessor.
1. Envy and malice are indefatigable, and torment themselves in order to torment and ruin others. That a high priest, says pious Quesnel, should ever be induced to leave the holy city, and the functions of religion, to become the accuser of an innocent person; this could be no other than the effect of a terrible dereliction, and the punishment of the abuse of sacred things.
2. Tertullus begins his speech with flattery, against which every judge should have a shut ear; and then he proceeds to calumny and detraction.
These generally succeed each other. He who flatters you, will in course calumniate you for receiving his flattery. When a man is conscious of the uprightness of his cause, he must know that to attempt to support it by any thing but truth tends directly to debase it.
3. The resurrection of the body was the grand object of the genuine Christian's hope; but the ancient Christians only hoped for a blessed resurrection on the ground of reconciliation to God through the death of his Son. In vain is our hope of glory, if we have not got a meetness for it. And who is fit for this state of blessedness, but he whose iniquity is forgiven, whose sin is covered, and whose heart is purified from deceit and guile!
4. We could applaud the lenity shown to St. Paul by Felix, did not his own conduct render his motives for this lenity very suspicious. "To think no evil, where no evil seems," is the duty of a Christian; but to refuse to see it, where it most evidently appears, is an imposition on the understanding itself.
5. Justice, temperance, and a future judgment, the subjects of St. Paul's discourse to Felix and Drusilla, do not concern an iniquitous judge alone; they are subjects which should affect and interest every Christian; subjects which the eye should carefully examine, and which the heart should ever feel. Justice respects our conduct in life, particularly in reference to others: temperance, the state and government of our souls, in reference to God. He who does not exercise himself in these has neither the form nor the power of godliness; and consequently must be overwhelmed with the shower of Divine wrath in the day of God's appearing, Many of those called Christians, have not less reason to tremble at a display of these truths than this heathen.