Acts 25:1. Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
Porcius Festus had been appointed governor in the place of Felix, who had left Paul a prisoner so as to please the Jews, though he would have been willing enough to release him, if Paul or his friends, would have given him a sufficiently heavy bribe. He had trembled as Paul had “reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come,” but his conscience had not been so quickened as to make him act justly towards the apostle. Yet his unrighteous conduct was made to serve the Lord’s purpose, which was that Paul should testify before one earthly ruler after another until he should ultimately appear before the cruel Nero himself at Rome. Paul was at Caesarea, but he was not at once brought before Festus; and when the governor went up to Jerusalem, the apostle’s enemies renewed their plotting against him
Acts 25:2-3. Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him, and desired favor against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.
They had been foiled in their previous attempt to assassinate the apostle but their malice led them to try again to put him to death in that dastardly fashion.
Acts 25:4-5. But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea and that he himself would depart shortly thither. Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him.
Whether Festus suspected their real reason for being so anxious for him to send for Paul, we cannot tell; but, at any rate, their scheme was once more a failure.
Acts 25:6-7. 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. 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.
It was easy for them to lay many and grievous complaints against Paul, yet it was not only difficult but impossible for them to prove their charge against the apostle.
Acts 25:8-9. 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. But Festus, willing to do the Jew’s pleasure,-
In that respect he was just line his predecessor, Felix. No doubt he took into account the number and position of Paul’s accusers, and thought it would be the wiser policy to side with them rather than with the prisoner; and, therefore, “Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure,” —
Acts 25:9-11. Answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me? 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. For 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.
As a freeborn Roman citizen, he had the right of appeal to the emperor, and that right he exercised, it may be that he also realized that this was the way in which the Lord’s prophecy should be fulfilled: “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at home.”
Acts 25:12. Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.
The die was cast, there was no need to argue the matter any further.
Acts 25:13-16. And after certain days King Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus. 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: About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him. 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 must have felt profound contempt for the chief priests and elders of the Jews who clamoured for Paul’s death even before he had been tried, and he gave them plainly to understand that this was not the Roman if it was the Jewish method of dealing with accused persons.
Acts 25:17-19. 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. Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: but had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.
Festus may have supposed that they would have accused Paul of plotting against Rome, or of some other political crime. He would have thought such matters of far greater importance than the “certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.” Paul could make that affirmation with the utmost confidence, for Christ had appeared to him on the road to Damascus, proving without doubt that, though once dead, he was again alive.
Acts 25:20-22. 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. But 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. Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. Tomorrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.
So Paul’s witness-bearing was made to spread still further. It is scarcely possible to conceive of any other circumstances in which the gospel could have been made known to such an audience as the apostle was, on the morrow, to have the opportunity of addressing.
Acts 25:23. 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.
It was such a congregation as Paul was only too glad to address, and the gospel could not have had a nobler or worthier advocate, yet we do not read of anyone who was present yielding up himself or herself to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Acts 25:24. 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.
Festus took care that the Jews should not be able to forget that they had demanded the death of a man who had not even been put upon his trial.
Acts 25:25-27. But 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. 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. For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.
The governor talked like a man of sense, and he even went so far as to say that the prisoner before him “had committed nothing worthy of death.”
This exposition consisted of readings from Acts 25. and Acts 26; and 1 John 4.
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Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Acts 25". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany