Acts 25 Paul Before Festus
Summary

After the Jews had wanted Paul moved back to Jerusalem, Festus informed them that he would hear the case in Caesarea. Of course if they could return Paul to Jerusalem, they would harm him. The hearing took place and Paul again declared his innocence. When Festus offered a trial in Jerusalem, Paul felt that he must appeal to Caesar as a Roman citizen. Festus was obliged to grant that request. After a time, Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea and Festus, apparently seeking their advice, informed them of Paul’s case. Agrippa asked to hear Paul and a meeting was held. Festus publicly stated the case but desired to find something to be able to tell the Emperor about Paul and why he was being sent to Rome.

Paul Appeals to Caesar

25Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. 2And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid out their case against Paul, and they urged him, 3asking as a favor against Paul[1] that he summon him to Jerusalem—because they were planning an ambush to kill him on the way. 4Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea and that he himself intended to go there shortly. 5“So,” said he, “let the men of authority among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them bring charges against him.”

Question 1

Why were the Jews so insistent that Paul be tried in Jerusalem?

Question 2

How did Festus show wisdom in dealing with Paul’s situation? What more could he have done legally in this case?

6After he stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. 7When he had arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him that they could not prove. 8Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” 9But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?” 10But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar's tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. 11If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.” 12Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.”

Question 3

Why did Paul appeal to Caesar?

Paul Before Agrippa and Bernice

13Now when some days had passed, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and greeted Festus. 14And as they stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul's case before the king, saying, “There is a man left prisoner by Felix, 15and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews laid out their case against him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him. 16I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him. 17So when they came together here, I made no delay, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought. 18When the accusers stood up, they brought no charge in his case of such evils as I supposed. 19Rather they had certain points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive. 20Being at a loss how to investigate these questions, I asked whether he wanted to go to Jerusalem and be tried there regarding them. 21But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of the emperor, I ordered him to be held until I could send him to Caesar.” 22Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” said he, “you will hear him.”

Question 4

Who were Agrippa and Bernice and what is their response to Paul’s case?

23So on the next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp, and they entered the audience hall with the military tribunes and the prominent men of the city. Then, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24And Festus said, “King Agrippa and all who are present with us, you see this man about whom the whole Jewish people petitioned me, both in Jerusalem and here, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25But I found that he had done nothing deserving death. And as he himself appealed to the emperor, I decided to go ahead and send him. 26But I have nothing definite to write to my lord about him. Therefore I have brought him before you all, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that, after we have examined him, I may have something to write. 27For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to indicate the charges against him.”

Question 5

What was Festus real judgment concerning Paul?

People
  • Festus
  • Roman governor

  • Paul
  • Apostle of Christ

  • King Agrippa II
  • Ruler of the Jews

  • Bernice
  • Agrippa’s wife

Places
  • Jerusalem
  • Festus spoke to the Jewish leaders and heard their requests

  • Caesarea
  • Festus decided to hear Paul’s case in Caesarea and not at Jerusalem

Paul Appeals to Caesar

25Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. 2And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid out their case against Paul, and they urged him, 3asking as a favor against Paul[1] that he summon him to Jerusalem—because they were planning an ambush to kill him on the way. 4Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea and that he himself intended to go there shortly. 5“So,” said he, “let the men of authority among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them bring charges against him.”

Acts 25:1

Festus was competent and wasted no time going to Jerusalem to meet with the leaders there.Josephus tells us that the High Priest at this time was Ishmael ben Phiabi.


Acts 25:3

Some ask why they wanted to ambush Paul? They wanted to get a square meal (see Acts 23:12).

6After he stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. 7When he had arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him that they could not prove. 8Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” 9But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?” 10But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar's tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. 11If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.” 12Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.”

Acts 25:11

Paul’s appeal to Caesar (provocatio) to avoid going before the Jews, based on Roman citizenship.

Paul says that he is willing to die if he has committed anything worthy. In other words, “If I did the crime, I will do the time” (Bock, 702).

Paul Before Agrippa and Bernice

13Now when some days had passed, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and greeted Festus. 14And as they stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul's case before the king, saying, “There is a man left prisoner by Felix, 15and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews laid out their case against him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him. 16I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him. 17So when they came together here, I made no delay, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought. 18When the accusers stood up, they brought no charge in his case of such evils as I supposed. 19Rather they had certain points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive. 20Being at a loss how to investigate these questions, I asked whether he wanted to go to Jerusalem and be tried there regarding them. 21But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of the emperor, I ordered him to be held until I could send him to Caesar.” 22Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” said he, “you will hear him.”

Acts 25:13

This begins Paul’s last major discourse in Acts as well as his longest. Paul appeals to: a) his com- panions on the way to Damascus; b) Jerusalem Jews; c) Agrippa’s knowledge of Judaism; d) the Scriptures; e) a heavenly revelation; f) his being there as evidence of God’s Providence.


Acts 25:13

Agrippa is Herod Agrippa II, aka Marcus Julius Agrippa, only surviving son of Agrippa I (Acts 12:23). He ruled the northeastern part of Herod the Great’s territory including parts of Galilee and some territory east of the Jordan River. Part Jewish, he appointed the High Priest. He later sided with Rome in the war that led to the destruction of Jerusalem. His sister Drusilla was Felix’ wife.


Acts 25:13

Bernice was Agrippa’s sister. She had been married to Herod of Chalcis and King Polemon of Cilicia. She was living in the palace with Agrippa and rumored to have had an incestuous relation- ship with him. Later she was said to have been a mistress to Emperors Vespasian and Titus.


Acts 25:18

Festus had been presented with charges against Paul he was not anticipating.


Acts 25:19

The charges centered in Jewish superstition and religious beliefs, not Roman civil law.


Acts 25:21

The term Caesar (Sebastou) was equivalent to “His Majesty;” “worthy of reverence;” or “august”.It’s use with reference to Roman emperors dates back to Octavian in 27 BC.

23So on the next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp, and they entered the audience hall with the military tribunes and the prominent men of the city. Then, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24And Festus said, “King Agrippa and all who are present with us, you see this man about whom the whole Jewish people petitioned me, both in Jerusalem and here, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25But I found that he had done nothing deserving death. And as he himself appealed to the emperor, I decided to go ahead and send him. 26But I have nothing definite to write to my lord about him. Therefore I have brought him before you all, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that, after we have examined him, I may have something to write. 27For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to indicate the charges against him.”

Acts 25:23

Agrippa asked to hear the case and Festus was glad to oblige.

Perspectives

The charges against Paul were bogus. His calm and reasoned response is worthy of imitation.

The examples of immorality and ungodly motives of the officials is despicable.

That Paul appealed to Caesar says that Christians may appeal for protection to civil authorities