But Felix, with a somewhat accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, "When Lys'ias the tribune comes down here, I will decide your case." He then ordered the centurion to keep him in custody with some liberty, and that none of his friends be prevented from attending to his needs. After some days Felix came with his wife Drusil'la, who was a Jewess; and sending for Paul heard him speak upon faith in Christ Jesus. As he presented a case about justice and self-control and future judgment, Felix became alarmed saying, "Go for the present. When I have opportunity I will summon you." At the same time he hoped he would be paid money by Paul. So he sent for him regularly and conversed with him. But then two years elapsed, and Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, and desiring to do the Jews a favour, Felix saw to it that Paul was left in prison.
Felix probably already knew about "the Way" from his wife, a Jewish woman. Her father had executed James, the brother of John. He had also imprisoned Peter. Drusilla could remind her husband about Jesus and His disciples if he needed any reminding. Felix showed a little interest in Paul's teaching. Paul explained faith in Jesus Christ and explained how this world relates to God's Kingdom. Luke tells us how Paul presented a case about justice, self-control and the future when God's judgment is sure to be handed down. We might say that Paul explained a "Christian world-view" to the Roman Governor. But Luke also tells us that this alarmed Felix. Paul was evidently trying to help Felix understand the difficulties faced by his administration. But Felix used Paul as a diversion, as entertainment.
But as we read this we have to be careful not to misinterpret what Luke is telling us. Clearly, Felix had many issues on his agenda and though we might say that God had given Felix a wonderful opportunity to hear about His grace and forgiveness, we should not too readily assume that Paul's tenure in prison was the most important matter for Felix. For instance, there may have been many other insurrectionists incarcerated in Caesarea. How many? We do not know. We do know there was ongoing communal and ethnic tensions. Luke doesn't tell us about these matters directly, although he does tell us that Felix's tenure at Caesarea would shortly come to an end. But before Felix left he ensured that Paul would stay in prison. Paul was kept locked up even though he was clearly innocent.
Luke also tells us that though Felix felt alarmed at Paul's teaching about Jesus, he still expected Paul, or his friends, to arrange the payment of a bribe. Then he might be released. Luke's account exposes corruption in the Roman provincial authorities. Moreover, the corruption had become part of the structure of Jewish-Gentile relations under Felix's rule. Felix used Paul, as his father-in-law had used Peter - a useful pawn kept in prison to placate the Jews. Felix waited for an opportunity to exploit this to his advantage, but before he could do so, he was recalled. Festus arrived and took over the administration of the province.