Chapter 25: Acts 25: 1-27, trial before Festus
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your word, the Holy Spirit, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Help us to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
VV 1-5, Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem. 2 Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him, 3 And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him. 4 But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither. 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.
When Festus came to Jerusalem, the high priest and elders approached him requesting him to send Paul to Jerusalem so that that they could assassinate him. Festus rejected their wicked demand and proceeded to Caesarea. He invited them to follow him to Caesarea to accuse Paul officially.
VV 6-8, 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. 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. 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.
Paul stood trial before Festus. The Jews from Jerusalem charged Paul with serious charges which they could not prove. Paul defended himself saying that he had not done anything against the Jews, the law, the temple, Caesar, or anyone.
VV 9-12, 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? 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. 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. 12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.
Wanting to please the Jews, Festus persuaded Paul to go to Jerusalem for another trial before him. Paul refused Festus’ request. He did not want to face so many trials since he was innocent. As a Roman citizen, he appealed to stand trial in Rome under Emperor Caesar Augustus and Festus granted his appeal.
VV 13-21, 13 And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus. 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: 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.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. 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.18 Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: 19 But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. 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. 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.
After some time, King Herod Agrippa the 2nd and his wife Bernice came to Caesarea for an official visit. Festus told Agrippa about Paul, the prisoner that he had inherited from Felix, about the trial before the Jews, about his refusal to be tried in Jerusalem, about his appeal to Caesar., which he had granted. The charges concerned Jewish religious issues and a man called Jesus of Nazareth who had died whom Paul claimed to be alive.
King Herod Agrippa the 2nd was the son of Herod Agrippa the 1st, grandson of Herod Antipas, and great-grandson of King Herod the Great. Herod was in an illicit relationship with his own sister Bernice.
VV 22-23, 22 Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him. 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.
Herod Agrippa wanted to meet Paul. He entered the auditorium with a great show of splendour and colourful attires, accompanied by commanders and VIPs of the city. Festus commanded Paul to be brought in.
VV 24-27, 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. 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. 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. 27 For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.
Festus introduced Paul to King Herod Agrippa the 2nd, explaining his background and narrating all the events that had transpired since his arrival to Caesarea. He explained that Paul had appealed to Caesar Augustus but he did not know how to write his letter to Augustus Caesar since the charges were so vague. He requested King Herod Agrippa to cross-examine Paul in the case of “Paul versus the Jewish religious leaders”. King Herod Agrippa agreed to cross-examine Paul.
Here we see providence at work. Paul wanted to visit Rome after Jerusalem but he was arrested and sent to Caesarea. Now his appeal was successful. He would be going to Rome soon! God had protected Paul. His destiny was to go to Rome, to preach to Jews, Gentiles, and Kings, Acts 9:15.
God had a destiny for every Christian, Romans 8:28.
Acts 9:15, “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel”.
Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your providence in our lives. We claim the promise of Romans 8:28, that all things will work for her for good, for us, who loved you and are called by Your name, in Jesus’ name, Amen.