Acts Chapter Twenty-Five
Read Acts 25:1-12
v.1 “1Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.”
As we had noted in our
previous study; in A.D. 60 the emperor, Nero, appointed a new governor for
v.2-3 “2Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him, 3And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.”
The chief priests and
principal men (ASV) of the Jews still haven’t forgotten their vow, their hatred
or their purpose to kill Paul. About two
years have passed, they now have a new governor and immediately they lay this
problem at his feet, requesting that Paul be brought to
v.4. “But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither.”
Festus didn’t grant
their request. He simply tells them that
Paul would be kept at
v.5 “5Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him.”
Festus not only wasn’t
accepting their request he told the Jewish leaders that whoever among them was
able to come to
v.6 “And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought.”
Festus spent the time he needed to spend in Jerusalem, Luke records that it was “MORE THAN TEN DAYS” and then went back down to Caesarea. He didn’t waste any time with Paul or the members of the Jewish Council. He took the seat of judgment afforded him as the Roman Governor, sat to hear this case and had Paul brought out to be judged.
v.7 “And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.”
Luke doesn’t tell us what charges that the members of the Sanhedrin made against Paul except to say that they were “MANY” and “GRIEVOUS”. Luke also tells us that they could not prove any of the charges that they made. They were just a bunch of accusations, nothing that could be substantiated, nothing that could be proven. This made this situation readily recognizable as a political situation, not a matter of criminal conduct of any sort.
v.8 “While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.”
Paul was allowed to make his defense. We’re not told specifically what he presented, just as we’re not told what the Jews presented, but the sum and substance of the situation was that he had not violated any law, Roman or Jewish.
v.9 “But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?”
Just like Felix, Festus wants to gain the cooperation and support of these Jewish leaders and sees a way to do that. Felix wanted the favor of the Jews:
Acts 24:27 “But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to show the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.”
So Festus wasn’t any better in this regard than Felix. In addition he wants Paul to go up to
v.10-11 “Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. 11For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.”
Paul refuses to go to
Paul then appeals to
the highest court in the
the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be
of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in
v.12 “Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.”
Festus has the responsibility to render a judgment in this somewhat bizarre case. Paul is innocent of any wrongdoing, Festus tried to set up something that would please the Jewish leaders and that didn’t work. So he confers with his council, the men appointed to advise and assist the governor in many things. These men served the same purpose as president’s cabinet and that group of White House advisors that support and advise our president today. They decide that the only alternative they have is to send Paul to Caesar, but even this decision continues to present problems.
Read Acts 25:13-27:
v.13 “And after certain days king Agrippa and
Bernice came unto
“AFTER CERTAIN DAYS”,
shortly after Paul’s trial, King Herod Agrippa II and his sister Bernice come
down to Caesarea from Caesarea Philippi.
King Herod Agrippa II was the son of Herod Agrippa I, the Herod who gave
the oration and died in
v.14-15 “And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul’s cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix: 15About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.”
Because he is also a
ruler in this region, perhaps with more experience than Festus, but probably
more so because he is at least part Jewish, Festus tells him about his problem
with Paul; a certain man that Felix has left in bonds. We know from prior study that Paul has now
been there for about two years. The
Jewish leaders from
v.16 “To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.”
Festus did as he should in this case and required that a Roman trial be conducted to determine what crimes Paul has committed. As does our law today Roman law provided the opportunity for those accused to face their accusers and defend themselves.
v.17 “Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth.”
When Paul’s accusers
came down from
v.18-19 “Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: 19But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.”
At this trial, Festus learns that Paul is not being charged with any crime against Roman law or any other civil law but rather the problem is a religious dispute. Religion is translated superstition in the KJV and the original Greek word can be translated either “pious”, “religious” or “superstitious. To Festus who is basically ignorant of the Mosaic Law and God; the main question seems to be the resurrection of the dead, specifically Jesus the Christ.
v.20-21 “And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters. 21But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar.”
Festus doubted the
validity of the charges against Paul; he is in a political bind with the Jewish
rulers. The KJV says that he doubted the
ASV translates that he was perplexed; the RSV says that he was at a loss. He’s got a problem that he has inherited from
Felix and he doesn’t know what to do about it.
He tried to send Paul to
v.22 “Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.”
So perhaps as a courtesy to Festus, perhaps because of his own curiosity since he was a Jew, Agrippa agrees to hear Paul’s case.
v.23 “And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus’ commandment Paul was brought forth.”
Festus keeps his
promise. Arrangements are made and on
the very next day all the court with all the pomp and ceremony worthy of some
great event they gather to hear Paul.
Not only are Festus, Agrippa and Bernice there but also all the chief
captains and principal men of the city of
v.24-25 “And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer. 25But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him.”
This man Paul is one whom the Jewish leaders want condemned and executed but Festus in his judgment has found nothing to warrant punishment. Paul has appealed to Caesar and Festus has determined to send him but now he has a major problem in doing that:
v.26-27 “Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write. 27For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.”
This is Festus’ real
problem. He has to send Paul to