Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” Meanwhile, he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him. But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound. (Acts 24:25-27)
Waiting On God’s Plan
The apostle Paul was a driven man. At first, he pursued the disciples of the Way intending to wipe them off the face of the earth. He shut up many in prison and casting his vote to have them executed Paul was fierce persecution against the church of the Lord. Through God’s grace, he was redeemed by the blood of the One he sought to destroy and became one of the preeminent workers in the kingdom of Christ. His labor was a tireless and exhausting series of trips to teach in every city, every synagogue and any place he would be allowed to speak. He stood before kings and nobles, shared the good news with women by a river bank and declared the saving power of Christ to all who would hear. His opponents tried vainly to destroy him. They sought to kill him on a number of occasions. Near the end of Luke’s account of the early church, Paul is in Caesarea for his safety awaiting judgment on the charges put before him after a tumult in Jerusalem where men were charged to kill him. The apostle was sent to Felix, governor of the region while the Jews prepared their case against Paul. After a short trial which resulted in no action being taken, Felix spent time with Paul reasoning about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come. No decision was forthcoming in the case of Paul as Felix thought he might be able to secure monies from the man from Tarsus. After two years Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus.
It must have been excruciating for Paul to languish in the Roman garrison of Caesarea with no certain plan for the future and the inability to continue on the trips he had begun earlier. Paul was a busy, busy man. Twenty-four months in Caesarea would have been suffocating to a man who was accustomed to the frantic pace of his previous three journeys throughout the Roman Empire. Luke tells us little of those days with the exception that Felix spent many hours with Paul to converse about the Way and Paul’s life story. Sadly, Paul could not persuade Felix to change his heart. The teachings of righteousness and self-control were directly in contradiction to the lifestyle of Felix who had married the wife of Azizus, king of Emesa. Felix and Bernice were in an unlawful marriage which was not uncharacteristic of the rulers of that day. Yet in the two years they spent together, Paul could not move the heart of Felix and he remained a prisoner. In part, Felix pleased the Jews by keeping Paul in prison and this was for selfish reasons. Felix was unpopular with the Jews and they threatened to accuse him before Caesar. He thought appeasing the Jews with his treatment of Paul would put him in favor with Rome but it did not. Paul was the pawn in the political maneuverings of the Roman and Jewish world. He spent two years away from his beloved work in traveling from city to city preaching and teaching the wonderful grace of Jesus Christ.
While Luke does not tell us about the events of those two years it would seem clear enough that Paul trusted in the will of the Lord to work for the good of the gospel. Paul would stand before the new governor Festus and King Agrippa and pour out his message of hope and grace but again to no avail. Appealing to Caesar, the apostle would begin a perilous journey to Rome where he would be imprisoned again, released and then arrested a final time before being beheaded for serving his King, Jesus Christ. In all of this Paul trusted in the plan of God. If he questioned why he stayed in Caesarea for two years is not known but would it have mattered to the apostle? It is certain among all those who came to see him and to whom he had contacted the mighty servant of the Lord used every opportunity to teach others the gospel of Christ. While in a Philippian jail he and Silas sang praises to the Lord and there can be no doubt this would be a constant pattern of Paul’s life. Life may not be clear now and there may need to be a two-year waiting period before the real work begins in our lives but when we trust in the plan of God He will make all things possible. The timetable of the Lord is so vastly different from our time and Paul patiently waited for the harvest of God’s blessings to bear fruit in his life. Trust in the will of the Lord and allow His grace to measure your days. Paul waited for two years because He knew his God would deliver him.