In the heat of the summer sun in around the Mediterranean you will hear “Domani” or “Manana” a lot – tomorrow. Why do it today, when tomorrow is coming. Both Felix and Agrippa though interested in the gospel, kept putting off the decision until tomorrow.
Felix was the brother of one of the richest men in Rome and a former favourite of Emporer Claudius. He’d recently been in trouble for cruelty towards his subjects, so Paul talking about righteousness, self-control and the judgement to come, would make him and other hearers at the time listen and squirm. He’d seduced Agrippa’s married sister who was young enough to be his daughter. Tacitus wrote that he indulged in every kind of barbarity and lust. Now he is putting Paul on trial, but finding himself in the dock – scared and convicted. But he keeps putting it off until tomorrw. Two years later he was disgraced never to recover, disappearing from history. Don’t discuss and debate the gospel and keep putting it off.
Festus might be a better governor than Felix, but he also puts off responding to the gospel calling Paul an educated madman. Just after Paul later makes it to Rome, Festus dies suddenly. Dismiss the gospel and you are in trouble.
Enter Agrippa II, just as bad as his brother in law Felix. He finally gets to become governor of Galilee. Festus shrewdly brought him in on the trial. Paul goes for the jugular with his defence. He’s put on the spot publicly. Festus laughs off the challenge replying “Do you think that in such a short time ou can persuade me to become a Christian?”
If you follow Christ, you would describe yourself as a Christian (a little Christ), but in Acts the term “christian”, is used only twice as an insult by people opposing Christianity. For the sake of his reputation Festus rejects Christianity.
So we have three Roman rulers who reject the Gospel instead of believing it – through debate and putting it off, through dismissing it as crazy and through disdaining it for the sake of reputation. Agrippa ends up a lonely frustrated failure. All three suffer an ignominous demise.
Pauls’ warning from 2 Cor 6:1-2 is for them and any who reject the Gospel – do not receive God’s grace in vain… now is the time of salvation.