Leadership Series: Felix the Governor – So close, yet so far

Read Acts 23:1-24:27

When I was in New York, I got called for jury duty once.  And in the case that I was a potential juror on, the crime, armed robbery, occurred in December 2002, and it was finally getting to trial in May 2003.  I found this to be ridiculous.  Where is the speedy trial?  If it takes armed robbery over a year to get to trail, how long does it take more serious crimes to get to trail?  I wondered aloud to several friends if it would be faster and fairer to just put some crimes before a judge and not bother with a jury.

The answer is apparently no, and St. Paul can attest to that.  At the end of our reading, we see that he has been in prison, although with some perks and benefits, for over 2 years just chatting with Felix the Governor about the Gospel on periodic occasions.

Felix is not a terrible person, nor is he a weak leader.  Unlike his predecessor Pilate, Felix does not give into the peer pressure of the Jews; nor does he ignore the important religious implications that are at hand.  Felix does take the time to examine the evidence, and like Pilate, realizes that the Jews are asking for a punishment that does not exactly fit the crime.

But Felix is not perfect.  As it turns out one of the reasons he constantly brings Paul out to speak is because he is looking for money.  And when Felix’s term is over, instead of releasing Paul, he does the Jews a favor by leaving him in prison.  Felix probably wanted the Jews to give him a favorable report, so if Paul was not going to give him money, then leaving him in prison and getting good performance reviews was the next best thing.

The theme of Paul’s imprisonment is that no one is ever looking out for Paul, and doing what is right.  The governors and judges are always looking out for themselves and doing what is in their own best interests, not so much in doing what is right.  The corruption at every level causes one to marvel at Paul’s patience and willingness and faith in God to continue on.

One of the reasons Paul can do that is because he knows the truth of the Gospel.  Paul knows that what he preaches, the hope of the resurrection, is true.  Paul does not labor in vain under corrupt leaders, he labors on in the confidence that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, and that the promise of eternal life awaits Paul and all believers.

For God also gives an unjust verdict in the end, but that verdict is to our own benefit.  And unlike others, God cannot be bribed, nor can He be swayed by those who might report of Him to others.  God’s verdict is final, and it is determined by Him alone.  The verdict is that those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord, will inherit eternal life.

About revschmidt

An LCMS Pastor in North-Central Kansas
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