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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary
Acts 25

 

 

Verses 1-12

No hope of justice in Judea (25:1-12)

When the new governor, Festus, arrived in Palestine, the Jews were quick to accuse Paul afresh. They no doubt thought that the new governor's lack of experience in handling Jewish affairs would help them win a judgment against Paul (25:1-5).

The trial before Festus was much the same as the one before Felix, but the confused Festus was not sure how to handle the case. He saw no reason why Paul should be in prison, yet he thought it wise to gain the goodwill of the Jews from the outset of his governorship. He therefore suggested that Paul go to Jerusalem and have the case dealt with there, perhaps before the Sanhedrin with Festus himself as the judge (6-9).

Paul could tolerate this injustice no longer. Neither Felix nor Festus had found him guilty of any wrongdoing, yet he had been kept a prisoner of Rome for two years; and all this merely to satisfy the Jews. Paul saw clearly that he would receive no justice from either Festus or the Sanhedrin, so he turned to the final court of appeal open to every Roman citizen, that of Caesar himself (10-12).


Verses 13-32

Paul again declared innocent (25:13-26:32)

Among those who came to Caesarea to pay their respects to the new governor was Herod Agrippa II. This man was the son of Herod Agrippa I (the governor mentioned in 12:1-4,20-23) and the brother of Bernice and Drusilla (13; cf. 24:24; see 'The New Testament World'). He was Rome's appointed ruler over certain areas in the far north of Palestine, but he had no power in the region governed by Festus. He was, however, an expert on Jewish affairs (see 26:3,27,31), and Festus was quick to seek his advice on Paul's case (14-22).

Festus' problem was that he had to send Paul to Caesar for trial, but he had no idea what to say to Caesar about the case. He did not know what accusations the Jews brought against Paul or why they wanted him executed (23-27).

Paul was pleased at last to have the opportunity to put his case before a ruler who had a good knowledge of the Jewish religion (26:1-3). His account of events was similar to that which he gave to the Jewish mob in Jerusalem two years earlier, but with an occasional change of emphasis to suit the present audience. Like most loyal Jews, Paul believed in the resurrection of the dead, but when he preached that Jesus' resurrection brought the Jews' age-long hopes to fulfilment, they persecuted him (4-8).

To some extent Paul could understand the Jews' feelings, because he himself had once persecuted the followers of Jesus (9-11). But the risen Lord Jesus appeared to him and sent him to preach the forgiveness of sins to all people, Jews and Gentiles alike (12-18). Paul willingly obeyed, because he now saw that the salvation brought by Jesus the Messiah was the fulfilment of all that the law and the prophets foretold (19-23).

Festus could not follow the argument at all and thought that Paul was mad (24). Agrippa, however, was familiar with the Old Testament Scriptures and understood what Paul was saying. Paul therefore appealed to him for support (25-27). Agrippa replied, either light-heartedly or sarcastically, that Paul was being over-enthusiastic if he thought he could convert him to Christianity in such a short time (28-29). Nevertheless, he was honest enough to admit that Paul had done nothing that deserved imprisonment (30-32).

By one example after another Luke was making it clear to Theophilus that the Christians were not unlawful or rebellious. In addition to those already mentioned who found no guilt in Paul (namely, the Jerusalem army commander, the Jewish Sanhedrin and two Roman governors), an independent expert on Jewish affairs also declared him to be innocent.

 


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Bibliography Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Acts 25:4". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/acts-25.html. 2005.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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