Acts 24: “When I have a convenient time”

Acts 24: “When I have a convenient time”

One of the saddest and most poignant verses in all the Bible is found in today’s reading. As Paul reasoned with Felix about “righteousness, self-control, and the judgment come, Felix was afraid and answered, ‘Go your way for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.”

It should be noted that Felix was not some incidental bystander to the preaching of the faith that is in Christ, for he had summonsed Paul to hear him speak.

Moreover, consider that Paul “reasoned” with him. The word here translated is our English word “dialogue.” This word is used of Paul’s work at least six times before this. Paul appealed to Felix’s intellect.

The preaching of the gospel is an appeal to the intellect. It is not a litany of death tales or scare tactics designed to evoke a shallow, thoughtless response. Preaching the gospel is a call to repentance based upon faith in Jesus Christ.

Felix’s failure to properly respond to Paul’s preaching is not evidence that he did not believe it, but that he did. With the preaching of the faith that is in Christ, Paul exhorted Felix concerning righteousness (right living), self-control, and the coming judgment.

Of Felix, the noted Roman historian Tacitus said, “with every kind of cruelty and lust, he exercised the authority of a king with the temper of a slave” (Histories, cited in J.W. McGarvey’s Original Commentary on Acts, 273). Felix fully well knew what obeying the faith of Jesus Christ required. In this case, it was an undesirable example of counting the cost.

Jesus spoke of those who would follow Him without giving due consideration to the cost involved. The discipleship of these would likely be short-lived (cf Luke 14:28-33). In Felix’s case, he counted the cost of discipleship and did not deem it as valuable as his life of rebellion to God and his place in Roman leadership.

What Felix failed to understand was that there is never a convenient time to die to self and to sin. When it is ever convenient to take up one’s cross and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23)? Tragically, neither Felix nor Drusilla ever found the convenient time to come to perfect faith in Jesus. Don’t make that same mistake.

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