Verse 25. "As he reasoned of righteousness" - dikaiosunhv; The principles and requisitions of justice and right, between God and man; and between man and his fellows, in all relations and connections of life.
"Temperance" - egkrateiav, Chastity; self-government or moderation with regard to a man's appetites, passions, and propensities of all kinds.
"And judgment to come" - krimatov tou mellontov; The day of retribution, in which the unjust, intemperate, and incontinent, must give account of all the deeds done in the body. This discourse of St. Paul was most solemnly and pointedly adapted to the state of the person to whom it was addressed. Felix was tyrannous and oppressive in his government; lived under the power of avarice and unbridled appetites; and his incontinence, intemperance, and injustice, appear fully in depriving the king of Emesa of his wife, and in his conduct towards St. Paul, and the motives by which that conduct was regulated. And as to Drusilla, who had forsaken the husband of her youth, and forgotten the covenant of her God, and become the willing companion of this bad man, she was worthy of the strongest reprehension; and Paul's reasoning on righteousness, temperance, and judgment, was not less applicable to her than to her unprincipled paramour.
"Felix trembled" - "The reason of Felix's fear," says Bp. Pearce, "seems to have been, lest Drusilla, who was a Jewess, and knew that what she had done was against the law of Moses, might be influenced by Paul's discourse, and Felix's happiness with her disturbed. What is said of Felix, ver. 26, seems to show that he had no remorse of conscience for what he had done." On the head of Drusilla's scruples, he had little to fear; the king of Emesa, her husband, had been dead about three years before this; and as to Jewish scruples, she could be little affected by them: she had already acted in opposition to the Jewish law, and she is said to have turned heathen for the sake of Felix. We may therefore hope that Felix felt regret for the iniquities of his life; and that his conscience was neither so scared nor so hardened, as not to receive and retain some gracious impressions from such a discourse, delivered by the authority, and accompanied with the influence, of the Spirit of God. His frequently sending for the apostle, to speak with him in private, is a proof that he wished to receive farther instructions in a matter in which he was so deeply interested; though he certainly was not without motives of a baser kind; for he hoped to get money for the liberation of the apostle.
"Go thy way for this time" - His conscience had received as much terror and alarm as it was capable of bearing; and probably he wished to hide, by privacy, the confusion and dismay which, by this time, were fully evident in his countenance.
is still apparent, and it is now insufferable, being added to the
Verse 26. "He hoped also that money should have been given him" - Bp.
Pearce asks, "How could St. Luke know this?" To which I answer: From the report of St. Paul, with whom Felix had frequent conferences, and to whom he undoubtedly expressed this wish. We may see, here, the most unprincipled avarice, in Felix, united to injustice. Paul had proved before him his innocence of the charges brought against him by the Jews. They had retired in confusion when he had finished his defense. Had Felix been influenced by the common principles of justice, Paul had been immediately discharged; but he detained him on the hope of a ransom. He saw that Paul was a respectable character; that he had opulent friends; that he was at the head of a very numerous sect, to whom he was deservedly dear; and he took it, therefore, for granted that a considerable sum of money would be given for his enlargement. Felix was a freed man of the Emperor Claudius; consequently, had once been a slave. The stream rises not above its source: the meanness of the slave
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.