A Tragic Man - The Warrior's Journey®

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“As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, ‘That’s enough for now!’ … At the same time Felix was hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe, so he sent for him frequently.” (Acts 24:24-26) 

In Antonius Felix’s day, most public offices were filled by the nobility. But Felix was no noble. He was born a slave. He gained his freedom and rose to the governorship of Judea from AD 52 – 59 – the first slave to ever achieve such honor. He also married well. His three wives were all princesses. 

Yet, Felix faced a chronic problem as a public servant. You see, most prominent governmental offices were filled at one’s own expense – or for only the base pay of a Roman officer. That’s no problem for the nobility, since they were all fabulously rich. But for an ex-slave like Felix, his only means of income would be through shady practices – e.g. selling offices and taking bribes. In fact, Felix was hoping Paul would offer him a bribe for his freedom.   

But no bribe would be forthcoming. Paul saw himself as the prisoner of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:1; 4:1; Philemon 1:1, 9; 2 Timothy 1:8).  Paul viewed his imprisonment as God’s will for him. Besides, Paul would not have stooped to disobeying God’s commandments (Deuteronomy 10:17; 16:19; 27:25) to gain his own freedom. 

Instead of a bribe, every time Felix summoned Paul, Paul gave him the word of God – the last thing he wanted. In the end, Felix deliberately kept Paul in prison as a way of currying favor with the Jews. But it didn’t work. Frustrated by his many corrupt practices, the Jews complained so vehemently to the Emperor that he dismissed Felix.   

Felix got nothing he hoped for – neither the favor of the Jews nor bribes from his distinguished prisoner. Felix would face the judgment Paul spoke of, with the knowledge that he turned away so many opportunities to repent and believe in Jesus. He could have been eternally wealthy, but pursued earthly wealth instead. His name would become a byword in Rome for corruption. The Roman senator and historian, Tacitus, would go on to write of Felix, “He ruled like a tyrant with the mind of a slave.” 

The Lord Jesus once said, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26) Felix didn’t come close to getting the world – and still lost his soul. God help us to avoid his tragic example. 


  • Do you feel the voice of earthly pursuits calling you? Are they worth your soul? 
  • If you give up Jesus to pursue this world, won’t you lose everything? 
  • God’s word tells us, “Do not love the world … for the world is passing away. But those who do the will of God will live forever” (1 John 2:15-17). 

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