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Paul's Appeal to Caesar
After only three days in the province, Porcius Festus went to Jerusalem. There, the high priest and some of the members of the Sanhedrin approached him about bringing Paul up to Jerusalem for a trial. They actually intended to have Paul assassinated along the road. Festus said Paul would remain in Caesarea, where he would shortly go himself. He urged those in authority to come present their charges before him there. In just eight to ten days, Festus went to Caesarea, sat on the judgment seat and called for Paul to be brought before him. The Jews, who may have journeyed with Festus, also appeared before the judgment seat and brought serious charges against Paul. The apostle, according to Luke, simply said he had not sinned against the Jews, the temple or Caesar.
Festus, in an effort to establish good relations with the Jews, asked Paul if he would appear before him in Jerusalem to be judged. Paul answered that he had done no wrong, as Festus well knew, and, as a Roman citizen, would remain before Caesar's judgment seat. He said he was willing to die if guilty of some offense worthy of death but would not be given up to the Jews if innocent. So, he appealed to Caesar. Festus consulted with this own legal advisors and said Paul would go before Caesar as requested ( Act_25:1-12 ).
Festus Introduces Paul and the Jews' Case Against Him
The King Agrippa Luke says came to greet Festus is actually Herod Agrippa II. His father was Herod Agrippa I ( Act_12:1-23 ) and his great-grandfather was Herod the Great ( Mat_2:1-18 ). Bernice was his sister. She, at the age of sixteen, had already been married twice. First to Alexander of Alexandria and then to her uncle, Herod, King of Chalcis, who died in 48 A. D. At the time of this writing, she was living with her brother. Later, she served as mistress to both Vespasian and his son Titus, who probably would have married her if there had not been such an outrage among the people.
During Agrippa's stay, Festus brought Paul's case up for consideration. The elders of the Jews did not ask for a trial, but a guilty verdict. Festus said he told them Roman law did not ordinarily allow a man to be condemned without having an opportunity to answer his accusers face to face. Then the Jews came, Festus found no sufficient charge of evil but, as he saw it, a religious (the actual word meaning a question of demon worship) dispute over Paul's affirmation that Jesus had been dead but was now alive. Festus then reported that he asked Paul to go to answer the questions in Jerusalem so that he could better understand the question involved, but that seems doubtful since he had already told Agrippa he had not found Paul guilty of any of matter involving Roman law. It is more likely that he was seeking to establish a favorable relationship with the Jews when Paul's appeal to Caesar forced him to hold Paul for a higher court.
Agrippa immediately expressed an interest in hearing Paul, which Festus readily granted. The next day, Festus, Agrippa and Bernice all appeared in very formal attire, with the chief captains and important men of the city all in attendance. Paul was brought in and Festus introduced him as the man the Jews sought to have put to death in suits brought in Jerusalem and at Caesarea. Though Festus announced publicly that he had found no guilt in Paul, his actions had forced the apostle to appeal to Caesar. Perhaps his hesitation was God's opening of the door to the most powerful court in the world of that day! So, needing some formal charge of wrong doing against Paul, Festus announced he had brought him before Agrippa for an examination ( Act_25:13-27 ).
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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Acts 25". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
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