Having stood before the crowd in Jerusalem (chapter 22) and before the Sanhedrin (chapter 23), Paul now comes before the Roman tribunal, led by the Roman governor, Felix. In Acts, we read that Paul testified before five separate tribunals on his way to Rome. This is the third.
Paul’s primary purpose is not to prove his innocence—although that is what transpires—but to persuade his audience of the truth of his experience, and to encourage them to investigate the matter of the resurrection for themselves. (See Acts 24:21; 26:7–8; 26:23; 28:28–29.)
Surely it is Paul’s conviction regarding the resurrection of Christ that keeps him going. He makes it clear, when he writes to the Corinthians, that the resurrection of Christ keeps our preaching from being useless (1 Cor. 15:14), our faith from being futile (1 Cor. 15:17), and the believer from being pitied (1 Cor. 15:19). It is because of the resurrection we know that there is life beyond this earthly existence and so, whatever we do for the Lord “is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).
Paul’s and our testifying ministry is never empty, vain or pointless. This is the conviction that gives Paul his persistent focus in every arena, wherever and whenever he speaks.
Drusilla (vv. 24–26) is the daughter of Herod Agrippa I who, earlier in Acts, was recorded as eaten by worms (Acts 12:23). She is Felix’s third wife—he persuaded her to leave her husband and join him.
Felix seems to be tantalized by Paul’s preaching. Luke tells us he was hoping for the offer of a bribe from Paul (v. 26). Paul’s preaching was about righteousness, self-control, and judgement (v. 25). Felix and Drusilla needed to realize that if they came to Christ, they couldn’t just add Him as an extra to their indulgent lifestyle—instead, they would be fundamentally changed.
The Jews take the threat of Paul’s ministry very seriously. We see this in the naming of their representatives (v. 1), their opening remarks (vv. 2–4) and their charges (vv. 5–8). Why did they treat the case so seriously? Was there any truth in their charges? For other examples of similar charges, see Acts 6:11; 21:21; Luke 23:2.