Scriptures

Acts 25

Introduction

“Three days after arriving in the province, Festus went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem, where the chief priests and Jewish leaders appeared before him and presented the charges against Paul. They urgently requested Festus, as a favour to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way. Festus answered, “Paul is being held at Caesarea, and I myself am going there soon. Let some of your leaders come with me and press charges against the man there, if he has done anything wrong.” Acts 25:1-5

Paul’s Trial Before Festus

After only three days in the province, Porcius Festus went to Jerusalem. And it was there that the high priest and some of the members of the Sanhedrin approached him about bringing Paul up to Jerusalem for a trial.

And as we have seen time and time again throughout these last couple of chapters in the Book of Acts, these so called religious leaders were actually intending to have Paul assassinated along the road.

But like we’ve also seen, God protected Paul, this is seen in the fact that Festus said that Paul would remain in Caesarea, because he was going there anyway. And so Festus urged those in authority to come present their charges before him there.

Isn’t it amazing the lengths these so called religious leaders are going to, to have Paul killed? They plot and scheme, they lie and bring false accusations. And so Paul once again is called upon to defend his case.

“After spending eight or ten days with them, he went down to Caesarea, and the next day he convened the court and ordered that Paul be brought before him. When Paul appeared, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many serious charges against him, which they could not prove. Then Paul made his defence: “I have done nothing wrong against the law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar.” Acts 25:6-8

Luke says that in eight to ten days, Festus went to Caesarea, sat on the judgment seat, and called for Paul to be brought before him. But the Jews who were on a mission to get rid of Paul once and for all also appeared before the judgment seat and brought serious charges against Paul.

Once again Paul told them clearly that he had not sinned against the Jews, the temple or Caesar. And what happens next is another part of the fulfilment of God’s plan to get Paul to preach the Gospel in Rome.

“Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favour, said to Paul, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there on these charges?” Paul answered: “I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!” After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!” Acts 25:9-12

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 nothing wrong, as Festus well knew, and, as a Roman citizen, would remain before Caesar’s judgment seat.

And Paul’s honesty and his clear conscience is clearly heard when he says that he was willing to die if he was guilty of some offence worthy of death but would not be given up to the Jews if innocent. So what did Paul do? He appealed to Caesar.

And so Festus consulted with this own legal advisors and said Paul would go before Caesar as requested. God was working in the background all the way through this to get Paul where Paul really wanted to go.

Paul’s lifetime ambition was to preach the gospel in the greatest city that the known world knew and God was providing a prepaid ticket for him to get that opportunity.

We too are on a journey to a great city, but it’s not Rome, its heaven, Hebrews 13:11-14. And just as God was using many people to help Paul get to Rome, He uses His church today to help get us and others to heaven. But the only way that is going to happen is when we work together with God and with each other.

Each one of us has work to do but if we are going to be successful in getting ourselves into that eternal city and take as many people with us as possible then we all have to work together to achieve that goal,1 Corinthians 3:6-9. God provided help for Paul to eventually get to Rome, God is providing help for us all to get to heaven.

Festus Consults King Agrippa

“A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus.” Acts 25:13

The King Agrippa that Luke says came to greet Festus is actually Herod Agrippa II. His father was Herod Agrippa I, Acts 12:1-23 and his great-grandfather was Herod the Great, Matthew 2:1-18.Luke mentions this woman named Bernice, who was she?

Bernice was his sister and although she was only sixteen years of age, she 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.

But at the time that Luke records to Theophilus about this event, she was living with her brother. And 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. From a very young age this woman has been around and seems to have no problem marrying if and when she likes.

But it seems from our text that it was during Agrippa’s stay, that Festus brought Paul’s case up for consideration.

“Since they were spending many days there, Festus discussed Paul’s case with the king. He said: “There is a man here whom Felix left as a prisoner. When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and elders of the Jews brought charges against him and asked that he be condemned.” Acts 25:14-15

This whole situation with Paul is interesting to say the least. Here is a bunch of Jews led by the elders of the Jews who didn’t want to know truth.

They had a mission to get rid of Paul by any means possible and they are still at it here, because these guys didn’t even ask for a trial. They wanted to skip the trial and go straight to the verdict of guilty.

When the apostle Paul was going around killing Christians he had a good reputation amongst the Jews but had a reputation of being feared by the Christians. But what other people think of us is not as important as what God thinks of us, Revelation 3:1.

Paul had a reputation and these Jews who were hounding him are holding on to their reputation. They were so religious in all their ways to other people around them but to Jesus they were just hypocrites, Matthew 23:13 / Matthew 23:15.

We shouldn’t give people any reason to make any bad judgments about us, whether they have all the facts or not, 1 Peter 2:13-17.

These Jewish elders were looking for any excuse to get rid of Paul but he was determined that he wasn’t give them one.

“I told them that it is not the Roman custom to hand over any man before he has faced his accusers and has had an opportunity to defend himself against their charges. When they came here with me, I did not delay the case, but convened the court the next day and ordered the man to be brought in. When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. I was at a loss how to investigate such matters; so I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial there on these charges. When Paul made his appeal to be held over for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.” Acts 25:16-21

These words are basically an account of what has happened so far but Luke does tell us that Festus said to Agrippa that he told them that Roman law did not normally allow a man to be condemned without having an opportunity to answer his accusers face to face.

And he says that when the Jews came, Festus found no sufficient charge of evil but, as he saw it, it was more of a religious dispute over Paul’s affirmation that Jesus had been dead but was now alive.

Festus then goes on and explains 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. I believe it is more likely that he was seeking to establish a favourable relationship with the Jews when Paul’s appeal to Caesar forced him to hold Paul for a higher court.

And so Agrippa after listening to Festus seems to be intrigued and immediately expressed an interest in hearing Paul, which Festus readily granted.

Paul Before Agrippa

“Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear this man myself.” He replied, “Tomorrow you will hear him.” The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the audience room with the high ranking officers and the leading men of the city. At the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. Festus said: “King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man! The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome. But I have nothing definite to write to His Majesty about him. Therefore I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that as a result of this investigation I may have something to write. For I think it is unreasonable to send on a prisoner without specifying the charges against him.” Acts 25:22-27

According to our text, 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.

It appears as though Paul is going through the different levels of court systems in Biblical times, but even more importantly, God is allowing this to happen.

Because there is a strong possibly that Festus’ hesitation to send Paul straight away to Rome was God’s way of opening up the door to the most powerful court in the world of that day.

But as we just read, Festus needed some charge against Paul, he needed some proof that he did something wrong. That’s why he announced he had brought him before Agrippa for an examination.

These people were asking the right questions to Paul but they didn’t get the answers they wanted which would cause Paul to be guilty. Festus couldn’t send Paul to Caesar without some sort of case against him or he would look like an idiot and now Paul is waiting to go into the lion’s den, so to speak.

I want to raise a little point about Festus’ actions here, when he says, ‘I have found no guilt in this man.’ His actions are so reminiscent of another man’s words who didn’t have the courage to stand up to the pressure of the Jews.

Herod said publicly, Jesus done nothing wrong, yet he didn’t have the courage to believe in Jesus and live the life of a Christian, Luke 23:13-15.

Pilate said publicly Jesus didn’t do anything wrong, yet he didn’t have the courage to believe Jesus and live his life as a Christian, Matthew 27:24.

Festus publicly said, Paul hasn’t done anything wrong, but didn’t have the courage to believe Paul concerning Jesus and live the life of a Christian, Psalm 25:1-3.

Go To Acts 26

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

Matthew 5:16

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