Acts 24, Drusilla, and Pompeii

Photo by Marc Szeglat on Unsplash

I have been greatly enjoying the study notes of the ESV Archaeology Study Bible. The notes offer many fascinating glimpses into the broader historical and cultural context of the scriptures. This week I have been finishing up the book of Acts and I learned some new information about Drusilla, Felix’s wife and the daughter of Agrippa I, and her connection to a famous catastrophe of the Roman world. Turns out Drusilla died, along with her son, Agrippa, in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. This event is more commonly known by the name of one of the towns destroyed by the eruption, Pompeii. In Acts 24 she is present with Felix as Paul speaks about “faith in Jesus Christ… righteousness and self-control and the coming judgement” (Acts 24:24-25). Luke records that Felix became alarmed at Paul’s message and sent him away, though he continued to listen to Paul speak over the next two years (while also hoping for a bribe).

No doubt Paul was speaking to Felix and Drusilla about the final judgment. None present could have known that in a few years Drusilla, the Jewish princess, would die in one of the more terrifying previews of the last day – the eruption of Vesuvius. Did she eventually take Paul’s message to heart and repent before the end? Only God knows. Her story serves as a an appropriate warning in these days of pandemic and global crises. If we hear the message of grace offered through Jesus, let’s not delay. Today is the day to turn to God in repentance.

-ESV Archeology Study Bible, pp. 1655-1666

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