Words in italic type have been added for clarity. They are not found in the original Hebrew or Aramaic.
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Paul Appeals to Caesar
Acts 25:1 Now when Festus had come to the province, after three days he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
- Festus succeeded Felix as procurator of Judea.
- Antonius Felix was a Roman freed slave. The historian Tichius described him as a man who “practiced every kind of cruelty and lust wielding the power of a king with all the instincts of a slave” ~ Histories.
His wife, Drusilla, and son would die in Pompeii during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Acts 25:2 Then the high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul; and they petitioned him,
Acts 25:3 asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem—while they lay in ambush along the road to kill him.
Acts 25:4 But Festus answered that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself was going there shortly.
Acts 25:5 “Therefore,” he said, “let those who have authority among you go down with me and accuse this man, to see if there is any fault in him.”
Acts 25:6 And when he had remained among them more than ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day, sitting on the judgment seat, he commanded Paul to be brought.
Acts 25:7 When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood about and laid many serious complaints against Paul, which they could not prove,
Acts 25:8 while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.”
Acts 25:9 But Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and there be judged before me concerning these things?”
- Festus already had in mind favoring the Jews, making himself look good in his new position, by giving Paul to them. But if he had relented then, Paul would have been killed on the way to Jerusalem (v. 3).
Acts 25:10 So Paul said, “I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know.
Acts 25:11 For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.”
Acts 25:12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, “You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!”
- Festus was happy to have Paul’s case out from under him.
Paul Before Agrippa
Acts 25:13 And after some days King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to greet Festus.
Acts 25:14 When they had been there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying: “There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix,
Acts 25:15 about whom the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, when I was in Jerusalem, asking for a judgment against him.
16 To them I answered, ‘It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.’
Acts 25:17 Therefore when they had come together, without any delay, the next day I sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in.
Acts 25:18 When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I (suspected) supposed,
Acts 25:19 but had some questions against him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.
Acts 25:20 And because I was uncertain of such questions, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters.
Acts 25:21 But when Paul appealed to be reserved for the decision of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I could send him to Caesar.”
Acts 25:22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I also would like to hear the man myself.”
“Tomorrow,” he said, “you shall hear him.”
Acts 25:23 So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great (pageantry) pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus’ command Paul was brought in.
- The historian Josephus records that Agrippa II (the son of Herod Agrippa I in Acts 12 See Acts chapter 26); (Josephus, Jewish War, 2.247, 252) was a ‘significant power-broker, both with Rome and with the Jewish community worldwide’ (Jewish War, 2.245, Antiquities 20.135)
- With Pomp and Circumstance the political chess game began with Paul, the pawn.
Acts 25:24 And Festus said: “King Agrippa and all the men who are here present with us, you see this man about whom the whole assembly of the Jews petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying out that he was not fit to live any longer.
Acts 25:25 But when I found that he had committed nothing deserving of death, and that he himself had appealed to Augustus, I decided to send him.
Acts 25:26 I have nothing certain to write to my lord concerning him. Therefore I have brought him out before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the examination has taken place I may have something to write.
Acts 25:27 For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him.”
- Festus did not want to look bad at his new job.
- Although Pilate was not new at his position, he found himself in the same no win situation with Jesus’ trial. Since a sign announced a criminal’s crime at crucifixion, Pilate had no crime to attach to Jesus, so he simply stated “King of the Jews”.