Event(s): Paul is sent to Felix
Today’s Text: Acts 23:23-35
Tomorrow’s Text: Acts 24:1-27
God had just used a young boy to expose the plot to ambush Paul. The Roman commander, who had Paul in custody, took the assassination threat seriously knowing Paul’s enemies would stop at nothing to see him dead. Knowing Paul would not be safe if he remained in Jerusalem, and that riots would most likely continue, he instead chooses to have Paul relocated to Rome, assigning almost half of an entire garrison to escort him. He makes his move in the middle of the night, allowing Paul and the soldiers to get a head start and then commands that all of Paul’s accusers report to Governor Felix as well, and present their charges against Paul.
Acts 23:25 “he wrote a letter in the following manner” Though his actions resulted in Paul’s protection and safety, and God had already ordained that Paul would end up in Rome, Claudius Lysias was mostly motivated by the fact that he didn’t want an assassination of a Roman citizen on his record. This was a truly political move, as is evident by the way he communicated the circumstances in his letter.
Acts 23:26 “to the most excellent governor Felix” Lysias’ address is formal and polite, as it should be since he’s addressing someone of higher rank than he. Yet it may help to understand a bit about him:
“Antonius Felix governed Judea from A.D. 52 to 60. Felix had been a slave, but had gained the status of freedman under the Emperor Claudius. Because Felix’s brother was a friend of the emperor, Felix’s political career blossomed, even though he was not popular among his peers. Felix was known for indulging in every kind of lust, and the writer of Tacitus described him as “exercising the powers of a king with the character of a slave.” –NKJV Study Bible
Acts 23:26-30 As we read through this letter, and compare it with the record of how the events actually unfolded in Acts 22, we can see that Lysias’ letter to Governor Felix was not entirely accurate. Overall, there’s lots of “I” language, making himself look as noble as possible. He writes that he had “rescued” Paul “having learned” that he was a Roman citizen. But the truth was, he had only found out about that after he had him arrested, and conveniently leaves out the part where he almost had Paul flogged.
Acts 23:34 “he heard that he was from Cilicia” “If Paul had come from an area in the empire that had its own ruler, in addition to a Roman governor, then that local authority had a right to witness the proceedings (cf. Luke 23:6-12). “Cilicia” was not such a place, however, so Felix could deal with Paul himself.” –Expository on the Book of Acts
In the 13 verses that cover today’s text, we don’t hear from Paul at all. But let us picture him, at first in prison, with a death threat hurled his way, his only ally a young boy, and then he’s yanked from his cell at 9:00 at night, with about 400 soldiers that are there to relocate him some 70 miles away.
Paul seems to have no control over the circumstances that surround his life right now. But through this entire whirlwind, he is in protective custody. Not just the protective custody of the soldiers that had been assigned to him. He was in God’s protective custody. And much like when Jesus appeared before Pilate and said to him, “You would have no authority over Me at all unless it was given you from heaven” (John 19:11), so it is here with Paul. He knows the Lord is with him and that it is God’s will he end up in Rome (Acts 23:11). How he gets there or what kind of political motivations or inaccuracies are associated with his relocation doesn’t even matter. He’s not going to waste his energy on trying to control that, he has his eye steady on his assignment.
Have you ever felt like you’re in the middle of a situation where things are completely out of your control? It is during these times we must pay very close attention to our inner narrative and also what we choose to spend our energy on. There’s a difference between knowing when to fight for something and using our energy to try and control all aspects of a situation. Remember, Paul’s goal was to finish his race with joy. That’s a great measure of knowing what zone we’re operating in, because control always steals our joy.
“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” –Kay Warren
Can you think of a current situation you feel heavy about? Are there certain aspects that feel outside of your control and the wrestle is causing you to lose your joy? Ask God to show if you if maybe it’s just something you need to let go of. Find peace in knowing you’re under His protective custody.