Here the Apostle Paul was showing that he sought to find common ground with whoever he met…whether Jew, Christian, slave, master, weak, or strong in the faith…in order to preach the Gospel to all. Unfortunately as a people, we generally look for petty differences and disagreements than seek out things that we share. But if we would take the time to think about it, we have much more in common with each other than we can disagree about. Finding common ground with one another can also be easier if we ask ourselves this question first…In the eternal scheme of things, does this matter? Sure, there’s some non-negotiables…but really, the vast majority of stuff we fight about makes no difference at all.
Felix, the Governor of Judea, was well acquainted with the “Way”…in fact he was even married to a Jewess named Drusilla. So as he listened to Paul speak about faith in Jesus Christ, conviction hit a little too close to home. Conviction by the Holy Spirit is an intense persuasion…a laying bare of our personal sin, and the realization of the judgment to come if we don’t repent. Paul saw this force at work by the Holy Spirit first hand and later wrote to the Thessalonians, “Because our Gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” (I Thessalonians 1:5) Never underestimate the power of conviction by the Holy Spirit…for it is unrelenting and able to reach where no human words can.
The Apostle Paul wasn’t speaking to non-Believers in this passage. Rather, he was directing the faithful to stop judging one another. You probably know someone who has been deeply wounded at Church by some hyper-critical Carnal Christian, and now because of that, has turned their back totally on Christianity and anything to do with God. For them, they can only see hypocrisy in fellow Believers that should be showing the love of Jesus…but instead are negative and critical. Such Carnal Christians are a hindrance and a barrier to the Gospel Message.
The Apostle Paul was given a thorn in his flesh…some chronic, painful condition that plagued him continually. And even though he had prayed three times for the Lord to take it – it remained. This was the same Paul who preformed extraordinary miracles, (Acts 19:11)…cast out evil spirits, (Acts 16:18)…and raised people from the dead, (Acts 20:10). But the prayers of his own healing went unanswered. Now many of us would react very badly if we had a great Ministry but were unable to be healed personally of some very visible disease. But Paul didn’t allow it to make him bitter, or doubt his worth. Rather, he looked at it from the viewpoint of his dependence on the Lord and his need for humility. For he writes in Philippians 4:13, “I can do everything through Him Who gives me strength.” Paul gained his strength through his weakness…for God in His infinite wisdom gave Paul what he needed, not what he wanted.
Even though the Disciples had lived, traveled, and witnessed miracles by Jesus – this was now becoming tough times. Jesus was gone, they were on their own, and preaching the Good News was becoming more and more difficult. They had been thrown into jail…again, when an angel broke them out. But rather than telling them to flee for their lives, he commanded them to go right back to the Temple and speak. How many of us would have the same kind of boldness and courage to go right back into enemy territory? They realized the life-giving Word they preached overshadowed the momentary fear they felt.
I cringe inwardly every time I over hear a married couple bickering in public. It hurts my heart to hear a husband belittle his wife, and she return it with a volley of sharp and biting comments. The type of love in this verse that the Apostle Paul is talking about is a love rooted in the mind and will of the person, and means to value, esteem, prize…to treat as precious. The fastest way to embitter a person is to make them feel devalued, worthless, and unappreciated.
To place in proper order… Paul wasn’t teaching that women were inferior to men, quite the opposite. In an age when women were downgraded and looked upon as mere property – Paul declared that in Christ there was no distinction in status between men and women (Gal. 3:28). He had even called the married couple, Priscilla and Aquila, by the same word…synergous – which meant “fellow workers.” God is a God of order, and by freely placing ourselves in submission in an orderly fashion under our husbands, we allow the blessings of the Lord to flow.