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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Acts 25

 

 

Verse 1

Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.

Festus, coming to Jerusalem, is urged to have Paul tried there-Hedeclines, but promises the parties a hearing at Caesarea ()

Now when Festus was come into the province , [eparchia ( G1885 )]. Judea belonged to the Roman province of Syria, which was under the imperial rule, and administered by a Procurator [epitropos ( G2012 )]. See the note at Acts 13:7.

After three days he ascended from Cesarea to Jerusalem - to make himself acquainted with the great central city of his government without delay.


Verse 2

Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him,

Then the high priest - `the chief priests' is clearly the true reading [ hoi (Greek #3588) archiereis (Greek #749)].

And the chief of the Jews - Festus calls them afterward 'the whole multitude of the Jews' ( Acts 25:24),


Verse 3

And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.

And desired favour (entreating it as a boon), against him. If we take the word "favour" here in the sense of "judgment" against him (as in Acts 25:15 ), it amounted to asking him for condemnation without even a trial; and Acts 25:16 would seem to confirm this.

That he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him. How deep must have been their hostility when, two years after the defeat of their former attempt, they thirst as keenly as ever for his blood! Their plea for having the case tried at Jerusalem, where the alleged offence took place, was plausible enough; but from Acts 25:10 it would seem that Festus had been made acquainted with their causeless malice, and that in some way which Paul was privy to.


Verse 4

But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither.

But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept ('in custody') "at Cesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly there."


Verse 5

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.

Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, [hoi ( G3588 ) dunatoi ( G1415 )] - 'the men of power,' 'weight,' 'influence,'

The Hearing at Caesarea before Festus-Being asked if he wouldabide a judgment at Jerusalem, the apostle declines, and appeals to the Emperor, to which Festus assents ()


Verse 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.

And when he had tarried among them more than ten days. Instead of this reading, the weight of authority is plainly, in favour of 'not more than eight or ten days' [ heemeras ( Greek #2250) ou (Greek #3756) pleious (Greek #4119) oktoo ( Greek #3638 ) ee (Greek #2228 ) deka (Greek #1176 )].

He went down into Cesarea; and the next day, sitting on the judgment seat, commanded Paul to be brought.


Verse 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.

And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul , [ kataferontes (Greek #2702 ), not ferontes (Greek # ), of the Received Text, which has next to no evidence],

Which they could not prove. From his reply, and Festus' statement of the case before Agrippa, these charges seem to have been a jumble of political and religious matter which they were unable to substantiate, and vociferous cries that he was unfit to live.


Verse 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.

While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Cesar, have I offended any thing at all. This reply, not given in full, was probably little more than a challenge to prove any of their charges, whether political or religious.


Verse 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?

But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure - to ingratiate himself with the Jews,

Answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me? If this was meant in earnest, it was temporizing and vacillating. But, possibly, anticipating Saul's refusal, he wished merely to avoid the odium of refusing to remove the trial to Jerusalem.


Verse 10

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.

Then said Paul, I stand at Cesar's judgment seat - i:e., I am already before the proper tribunal. This seems to imply that he understood Festus to propose handing him over to the Sanhedrim for judgment (and see the note at Acts 25:11 ), with a mere promise of protection from himself. But from going to Jerusalem at all he was too well justified in shrinking, for there assassination had been quite recently planned against him.

To the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest, [kallion (Greek #2566 )] - literally, 'knowest better;' better, than to press such a proposal; or, 'full well.'


Verse 11

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.

For if - `If then,' according to the true reading [ ei ( G1487 ) men (Greek #3303) oun (Greek #3767)],

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, [autois ( G846 ) charisasthai (G5483)] - 'may surrender me to their pleasure.'

I appeal unto Cesar - right of appeal to the supreme power, in cases of life and death, was secured by an ancient law to every Roman citizen, and continued under the empire. Had Festus shown any disposition to pronounce final judgment, Paul, strong in the consciousness of his innocence and the justice of a Roman tribunal, would not have made this appeal; but when the only other alternative offered him was to give his own consent to be transferred to the great hotbed of plots against his life, and to a tribunal of unscrupulous and bloodthirsty ecclesiastics whose vociferous cries for his death had scarcely subsided, no other course was open to him.


Verse 12

Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.

Then Festus - little expecting such an appeal, but bound to respect it,

When he had conferred with the council - his assessors in judgment, as to the admissibility of the appeal, answered,

Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? Unto Caesar shalt thou go - as if he would add, 'and see if thou fare better.'

Herod Agrippa II, being on a visit to Festus, and consulted on thisase, desires to hear the Apostle-He is accordingly brought forth, the king and his sister Bernice, is pompous form and with a distinguished retinue, taking their places in the audience-hall ()


Verse 13

And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.

And after certain days king Agrippa - great grandson of Herod the Great, and Drusilla's brother (see the note at Acts 24:24). On his father's awful death (Acts 12:23), being thought too young to succeed (only seventeen), Judea was attached to the province of Syria. Four years after, on the death of his uncle Herod, he was made king of the northern principalities of Chalcis, and afterward got Batanea, Iturea, Trachonitis, Abilene Galilee, and Perea, with the title of king. He died A.D. 100 AD, after rejoining 51 years.

And Bernice - his sister. She was married to her uncle Herod, king of Chalcis, on whose death she lived with her brother Agrippa-not without suspicion of incestuous sexual intercourse, which her subsequent licentious life tended to confirm.

Came unto Cesarea to salute Festus - to pay his respects to him on his accession to the procuratorship.


Verse 14

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:

And when they had been there many days , [pleious ( G4119 )] - 'several days,'

Festus declared Paul's cause, [anetheto ( G394 ) - later Greek in this sense: cf. Galatians 2:2, Gr.] - 'laid Paul's cause before the king'-taking advantage of the presence of one who might be presumed to know such matters better than himself; though the lapse of 'several days' before the subject was touched on shows that it gave Festus little trouble.

Saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix;


Verse 15

About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.

About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.


Verse 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.

To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver ('surrender') any man [to die]. (The bracketed words [eis ( G1519 ) apooleian ( G684 )] are insufficiently supported, and seem an explanatory gloss.)

Before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence , [ topon (Greek #5117 ) - later Greek in this sense] "to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him."


Verse 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.

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.


Verse 18

Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed:

Against ('around') whom, when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed - such crimes as I naturally concluded he would be charged with, punishable by the civil law.


Verse 19

But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.

But had certain questions against him of their own superstition - rather, 'religion.' See the note on the same word [ deisidaimonia (Greek #1175)] in Acts 17:22 . It cannot be supposed that Festus, in addressing his Jewish royal guest, would use such a word in any discourteous sense.

And of one Jesus. 'Thus (says Bengel) speaks this miserable Festus of Him to whom every knee shall bow.'

Which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive - showing that the resurrection of the Crucified One had been the burden, as usual, of Paul's preaching. The insignificance of the whole affair in the eyes of Festus is manifest.


Verse 20

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.

And because I doubted of such manner of questions - the "I" is emphatic-`I, as a Roman judge, who could not be expected to understand such matters, and so was at a loss how to deal with them; "I asked him, whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters."


Verse 21

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.

But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus - the imperial title, first conferred by the Roman senate on Octavius, and for sometime cautiously accepted, but at length boldly assumed.

I commanded him to be kept until I might send him to Cesar.


Verse 22

Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.

Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear ('should like to hear) the man myself. No doubt Paul was right when he said, "The king knoweth of these things ... for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner" ( Acts 26:26 ). Hence, his curiosity to see and hear the man who had raised such commotion, and was remodelling to such an extent the old Jewish life.


Verse 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.

And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, [ fantasias ( G5325 ) 'display'-later Greek in this sense] - in the same city (as Wetstein notes) in which their father, on account of his pride, had perished, eaten of worms,

And was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains - `the chiliarchs' or 'tribunes' (see the note at Acts 21:32 ). Josephus (Jewish Wars 3: 4. 2) says that five cohorts-whose full complement was 1,000 men each-were stationed at Caesarea.

And principal men of the city - both Jews and Romans. 'This (as Webster and Wilkinson observes) was the most dignified and influential audience Paul had yet addressed; and the prediction, Acts 9:15 , was now fulfilled, though afterward still more remarkably at Rome (cf. 27:24; 4:16-17 ): "at Festus' commandment Paul was brought forth."

Festus Opens the Proceedings with a Statement of the Case ()


Verse 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.

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.


Verse 25

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.

But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined ('I determined') to send him.


Verse 26

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.

Of whom I have no certain thing - meaning, 'nothing definite,' nothing that could be fastened on as a charge,

To write unto my lord, [too ( Greek #3588) kurioo (Greek #2962)] - 'to the lord' or 'sovereign;' meaning Nero. 'The writer's accuracy (says Hackett) should be remarked here. It would have been a mistake to apply this term ("lord") to the emperor a few years earlier. Neither Augustus nor Tiberius would allow himself to be called dominus ("lord"), because it implied the relation of master and slave. The appellation had now come (rather, was now coming) into use as one of the imperial titles.'

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.


Verse 27

For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.

For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him, [mee (Greek #3361) kai (Greek #2532) tas (G3588 ) kat' ( Greek #2596) autou ( G846 ) aitias (Greek #156) seemanei (Greek #4591)] - 'without also stating the charges against him.'

Remark: If Felix cuts a sorry figure in the preceding chapter, Festus in this one shows not much better. No doubt he was perplexed in consequence of his ignorance of the Jewish Religion, the parties it created, and the questions which it raised. So that though he at first declined to try the cause of Paul at Jerusalem, and intimated his intention to take it up at Caesarea, he might, without inconsistency, have been anxious to transfer it to Jerusalem, on finding the means of getting to the bottom of it could best be had there. But when the charges brought against the prisoner by Tertullus at Caesarea, and assented to by his Jewish accusers, so completely broke down-since of crime against the State there was none, and even their charges of sacrilege in religious matters proved baseless-it was the duty of an upright judge at once to acquit the prisoner. If there had existed evidence against him, his accusers ought to have had it ready when formally summoned to appear in the cause at Caesarea.

Failing that, there was no pretext for delay in the acquittal of the prisoner; and it was a cruel alternative to shut him up to-either to have his cause transferred to Jerusalem, where his life, already attempted, would be at the mercy of his enemies, or to make his appeal to the emperor. The keen sense of this wrong appears in the apostle's reply to the proposal of Festus that be should go to Jerusalem; and for all the injustice, and hardship, and danger involved in that proposal Festus was alone to blame. Nor did he commit this wrong under any misapprehension. The explanation given of it by the historian-that he was "willing to do the Jews a pleasure" - is one that would naturally suggest itself even though had not been expressed; and it leaves a foul blot upon his administration. But "it was of the Lord," that He might fulfill the word which He spake in the night season to His servant, when shut up in the castle at Jerusalem from the fury of his enemies, "Be of good cheer, for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome" ( Acts 23:11 ).

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Acts 25:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/acts-25.html. 1871-8.

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Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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