Reflection materials excerpted from the Chinese edition of the New Testament with Lectio Divina (by Claretian Publications), translated by Fountain of Love and Life
Reflection: How did Paul face the trial before Felix? How should Christians respond when they find themselves before a judge like Felix? How does the Christian faith, justice, and personal ethics relate to one another?
Prayer: When the time comes for you to witness your faith in Christ, do not forget to ask the Holy Spirit for instructions and guidance. May we Christians behave in a way that helps our society to build a culture of integrity and honesty, and bring an end to corruption.
Action: In your community, strive to promote a way of living based on the Gospel, that is, peace, fraternity, tolerance, justice, unity, and honesty etc.
Acts of the Apostles
Trial before Felix.
1 Five days later the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and an advocate, a certain Tertullus, and they presented formal charges against Paul to the governor. 2When he was called, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, “Since we have attained much peace through you, and reforms have been accomplished in this nation through your provident care, 3we acknowledge this in every way and everywhere, most excellent Felix, with all gratitude. 4But in order not to detain you further, I ask you to give us a brief hearing with your customary graciousness. 5 We found this man to be a pest; he creates dissension among Jews all over the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazoreans. 6 He even tried to desecrate our temple, but we arrested him. 7 8 If you examine him you will be able to learn from him for yourself about everything of which we are accusing him.” 9 The Jews also joined in the attack and asserted that these things were so.
10 Then the governor motioned to him to speak and Paul replied, “I know that you have been a judge over this nation for many years and so I am pleased to make my defense before you. 11As you can verify, not more than twelve days have passed since I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 12 Neither in the temple, nor in the synagogues, nor anywhere in the city did they find me arguing with anyone or instigating a riot among the people. 13 Nor can they prove to you the accusations they are now making against me. 14 But this I do admit to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our ancestors and I believe everything that is in accordance with the law and written in the prophets. 15 I have the same hope in God as they themselves have that there will be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous. 16 Because of this, I always strive to keep my conscience clear before God and man. 17 After many years, I came to bring alms for my nation and offerings. 18 While I was so engaged, they found me, after my purification, in the temple without a crowd or disturbance. 19 But some Jews from the province of Asia, who should be here before you to make whatever accusation they might have against me 20 or let these men themselves state what crime they discovered when I stood before the Sanhedrin, 21unless it was my one outcry as I stood among them, that ‘I am on trial before you today for the resurrection of the dead.'”
22 Then Felix, who was accurately informed about the Way, postponed the trial, saying, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I shall decide your case.” 23 He gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that he should not prevent any of his friends from caring for his needs.
Captivity in Caesarea.
24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He had Paul summoned and listened to him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25But as he spoke about righteousness and self-restraint and the coming judgment, Felix became frightened and said, “You may go for now; when I find an opportunity I shall summon you again.” 26 At the same time he hoped that a bribe would be offered him by Paul, and so he sent for him very often and conversed with him.
27 Two years passed and Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. Wishing to ingratiate himself with the Jews, Felix left Paul in prison.
Teaching from Fr. Francis Ching (Traditional and Simplified Chinese subtitles are available):
Read Acts 24:24-25 and the related footnotes in either your bible or ICSB (See Go bible). Who was Drusilla, and what was her relationship with Felix? Why did Felix become alarmed when Paul spoke about the Christian message?
Paul Before Felix at Caesarea
- Paul bravely and concisely defenses himself against the accusations of the high priest, that these accusations are unfounded. Felix is “frightened”, just as Pontius Pilate in the trial of Jesus has been, for he has found himself between a rock and a hard place. He respects Paul and begins to fear him because the Holy Spirit has shown His power in defending Paul. The Spirit instills fear in the world’s rulers and judges. As Jesus has promised, when we witness our faith, the Spirit will grant us wisdom and put words into our mouth.
- “I worship the God of our ancestors, believing everything laid down according to the law or written in the prophets. I have a hope in God – a hope that they themselves also accept” – Paul affirms that not only the Jews and Christians come from the same root (Rm 11:17-24), but they also hold one hope.
- Resurrection revisited: according to the traditions of the Pharisees, based on Dn 12:2, is Jesus’ teachings (Jn 5:25-29), is an infallible teaching (CCC 1038).
- Felix is guilty in his heart. When the Holy Spirit reveals our sinfulness to us, we can choose to repent or hide the sins. Felix chooses the latter.
Acts of the Apostles
Trial before Felix. / Captivity in Caesarea.
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