Much like today, Rome was a tolerant society – as long as you believed the same things! Rome was tolerant of many gods so the Jews with their radical monotheism were initially a problem. The Jews had held onto monotheism under lots of different occupiers and wouldn’t change, so Julius Caesar made it a Religio Licita a legal religion alongside Roman paganism.
In this trial Ananias and his lawyer are trying to argue that Christianity is a troublesome religion and far enough away from Scriptures that it can’t also enjoy religio licita status. Paul’s arguments are that it is Messianic Judaism, that the promise of the Scriptures are fulfilled in Christ. He gets to the resurrection quickly as that is the crux of Christianity.
Felix is a ‘manana’ type of guy. It can wait until tomorrow! He keeps calling Paul back for more, hoping for a bribe, but he keeps putting off coming to faith in Jesus. Felix was a rogue, a former favourite of the Emperor Claudius. He’d been recalled to Rome in disgrace for cruelty. So when Luke writes of Paul’s discourse on righteousness, self-control and the judgement to come, v.25, he knew that would make Roman readers and Theophilus sit up and take notice! Felix’s putting it off until tomorrow ended in disaster two years later when he was deposed and disgraced and he was later killed in the Vesuvius eruption of 79AD.
Don’t keep putting off responding to the gospel – do it today while you still have a chance.