The Bible mentions Drusilla only once in Acts 24:24. History, however, has much more to say about her, and it is from there that we gather most of our information about this beautiful Jewish woman. Drusilla’s name means “watered by the dew.” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia gives us the below background information on her from the historian Josephus:
Drusilla was the youngest of the three daughters of Agrippa I, her sisters being Bernice and Mariamne. She was born about 36 A.D. and was married when 14 years old to Azizus, king of Emeza. Shortly afterward she was induced to desert her husband by Felix, who employed a Cyprian sorcerer, Simon by name, to carry out his purpose. She was also influenced to take this step by the cruelty of Azizus and the hatred of Bernice who was jealous of her beauty. Her marriage with Felix took place about 54 A.D. and by him she had one son, Agrippa.
Drusilla’s second husband, Felix, was not Jewish, but he knew a lot about the Way. They both wanted to hear more from Paul about faith in Jesus the Christ. Acts 24:24 says:
Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus.
After listening to Paul, did Drusilla and Felix come to faith in Christ? The Bible bears no record that they did. It is both likely and unfortunate that they rejected the message of salvation and died in their sins.
1. Drusilla heard the Gospel from Paul, but we have no evidence that she gave her heart to Jesus. In an earlier post, we saw that a similar thing happened to Bernice – the older and jealous sister of Drusilla. When Bernice and her husband, Agrippa, heard the Gospel, they were almost persuaded to become Christians, but ended up rejecting salvation. When Drusilla and Felix requested to hear from Paul, they probably expected to hear about Jesus and His love. Instead, Paul gave them a message “about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come.” When Felix heard the words of Paul, he became afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” It is likely that Drusilla also became afraid. Paul had not condoned their sin of being illegally married to one another, but condemned it, and now she no longer wanted to hear what he had to say.
About this moment of fear, Alexander Whyte suspects that it was Drusilla who held Felix (and herself) back from accepting Paul’s message and trusting Christ for salvation. Whyte writes:
If Felix had but sat still a little longer, Paul was just going on to tell him how to get ease to the hell that was beginning to burn in his bosom. But I suspect Drusilla at that moment. I cannot get over my suspicion that it was Drusilla who so suddenly cut short Paul’s discourse, and sent him back to his prison. I do not read that Drusilla trembled. My belief about that royal pair is, that had Drusilla not sat beside Felix that day, Felix would have been baptized, and Paul would have been set free, before the sun had gone down. But Drusilla and her sisters have cast into their graves many wounded. Many strong men have been slain to death by them. Their house is the way to hell, and then steps go down to the chambers of death.
Drusilla and Felix wanted to know more about Paul’s testimony and the Christian faith, but they weren’t prepared to be confronted in such a blunt manner by the truth. They weren’t prepared to tremble and be made afraid by the word of God. Even though they were convicted, they were unwilling to change. They chose to remain in bondage to sin, instead of finding freedom in Jesus the Christ.
So, you may be asking: what happened to Drusilla? The historian Josephus says that she died while trying to escape with her son from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. If Drusilla never gave her heart to Jesus, then she was doomed to eternal judgment where she remains to this day.
It is possible for us even as believers to do the same thing as Drusilla and Felix did. Instead of immediately obeying the word of God, we push it aside until we “find it convenient” to obey. We hear the truth of the Gospel with our ears, but don’t apply it to our hearts and our minds. We get mad at those who confront us about things we are doing wrong, instead of letting go of our sin and changing. We should not reject the truth and power of the Gospel, no matter how uncomfortable it may make us feel. And if we know of others who have heard the word of God, but have not acted on it, then we need to encourage them to come closer to Christ and not draw further away, before it is too late.