The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Recently in the book of Acts we’ve seen the apparently pleasant relationship between Paul and the Roman government. In Acts 24:24-27 we find that our relationships with governmental officials may become complicated.
Paul speaks with Felix. We notice in verse 25 that he speaks about righteousness, self-discipline, and coming judgment. Mention of self-discipline is interesting. It appears that Paul was pointing out to Felix that God has standards and we don’t keep those standards. There is a coming time of judgment. This caused Felix to fear God.
Rather than finding repentance and forgiveness, Felix kept Paul imprisoned and spoke with him multiple times over the next two years. Yes, this says it takes some two years, in verse 27. Sometimes our relationships and interactions with others may take a good bit of time. They may be inconvenient. They may seem fruitless. But God is not done working.
In the end, Felix is being replaced by Porcius Festus. Apparently Felix was still not ready to make up his mind, so he left Paul in prison. The Jewish leaders were in favor of Paul’s continued imprisonment. At the end of the day, Felix was a politician. Did he know Jesus as his forgiving Lord? It isn’t clear. Regardless, he finished his term in office and Paul remained in prison.
During this time of imprisonment there were several important things that happened. First, Paul was doubtless able to speak with many people around the prison and the administration about Jesus. We have no idea of the outcomes or ripple effects of these discussions. Second, Luke, who had been touring with Paul, had about two years in and around Jerusalem. Most scholars think he used much of this time to research for the Gospel which he wrote.
God is never finished working. His work is never on hold, even though his servants may seem to be detained. Even though Paul was in prison the Gospel was having an effect. In the same manner, we may not see the immediate effects of our interactions. Yet we can be confident that the Lord is still at work in every one of them.
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