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ACTS
The continued Life of Jesus through the Apostles

CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE

"Fair Festus"
Key Verse = Acts 25:25


  1. Second Attempt To Kill Paul On The Road
  2. Before Festus -  Paul  Appeals To Caesar
  3. Festus Consults with  King Agrippa II



SECOND  ATTEMPT  TO  KILL  PAUL  ON  THE  ROAD

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Acts 25:1
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(1)  Now when Festus had come to the province, after three days he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem

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


Festus's residence would be in Caesarea, but it was politically appropriate to visit the local authorities centered in Jerusalem.

Josephus's portrait of Festus is much more positive than his portrait of Felix or Albinus; Festus corrected disturbances and caught many of the revolutionaries. It also appears from Josephus that Festus died in office, having served in Palestine only a year or two.
(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

Knowing how important it was for him to get along well with the Jewish leaders, Festus lost no time in visiting the holy city and paying his respects.
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries.)

The province
The province of Judea; for Judea at that time was a Roman province.

After the death of Herod Agrippa, Claudius thought it imprudent to trust the government in the hands of his son Agrippa, who was then but seventeen years of age; therefore Cuspius Fadus was sent to be procurator. And when afterward Claudius had given to Agrippa the tetrarchate of Philip, that of Batanea and Abila, he nevertheless kept the province of Judea more immediately in his own hands, and governed it by procurators sent from Rome. (Joseph. Ant. lib. 20 cap. 7 , sec. 1). Felix being removed, Porcius Festus is sent in his place; and having come to Caesarea, where the Roman governor generally had his residence
(from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

The governors of Judea at this time usually resided at Caesarea; but
as Jerusalem had been the former capital;
as it was still the seat of the religious solemnities;
as the Sanhedrin held its meetings there; and
as the great, and rich, and learned men, and the priests resided there,
it is evident that a full knowledge of the state of the province could be obtained only there. Festus, therefore, having entered upon the duties of his office, early went to Jerusalem to make himself acquainted with the affairs of the nation.
(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

From the Amplified Bible
(1)  Now when Festus had entered into his own province, after three days he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem.

Acts 25:2 & 3
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(2)  Then the high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul; and they petitioned him,

And the chief priests, and principal men of the Jews, went unto him against Paul : and they besought him,

(3)  asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem — while they lay in ambush along the road to kill him.

Requesting favor against him, that he would command him to be brought to Jerusalem, laying wait to kill him in the way.


Relations between Felix and the Jewish authorities had been strained; a new governor, however, meant a new chance to introduce agendas previously deferred.

They wanted Paul moved; given the frequent assaults by revolutionaries throughout the country, the priestly aristocracy would not necessarily appear to have sponsored the violence against Paul (as violent as some of their own agendas were reported to be, according to early Jewish sources).
(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

The high priest
The leaders lost no time in bringing up Paul's case. The new high priest was Ishmael, he had replaced Jonathan who had been removed by Felix. Ishmael wanted to resurrect the plot of two years before and remove Paul once and for all (Acts 23:12-15). It is not likely that the new governor knew anything about the original plot or even suspected that the Jewish religious leaders were out for blood. Since a Roman court could meet in Jerusalem as well as in Caesarea, transferring Paul would be a normal procedure. Festus would probably not demand that a large retinue go with him so an ambush would be easy.

Finally, since it was a matter involving a Jewish prisoner and the Jewish law, the logical place to meet would be Jerusalem. "Kill Paul!" had been the cry of the unbelieving Jews ever since Paul had arrived in Jerusalem (Acts 21:27-31; 22:22; 23:10-15; 25:3); however, Festus knew nothing of this. Paul had been warned of this danger, but he had also been assured that the Lord would protect him, use his witness and then take him safely to Rome (Acts 23:11; 26:17). The situation was growing more serious, for now it was the council itself, and not a group of outsiders, that was plotting Paul's death.
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries.)

The high priest at this time was Ismael, the son of Fabi. He had been promoted to that office by Agrippa (Josephus, Antiq., book 20, chapter 8, and section 8). It is probable, however, that the person here intended was Ananias, who had been high priest, and who would retain the name. Some MSS. read "high priests" here in the plural number, and this reading is approved by Mill and Griesbach. There is, however, no improbability in supposing that the high priest Ismael might have been also as much enraged against Paul as the others.
(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Informed him against Paul
Informed Festus of the accusation against Paul, and doubtless endeavored to prejudice the mind of Festus against him. They thus showed their unrelenting disposition. It might have been supposed that after two years this unjust prosecution would be abandoned and forgotten. But malice does not thus forget its object, and the spirit of persecution is not thus satisfied. It is evident that there was here every probability that injustice would be done to Paul, and that the mind of Festus would be biased against him. He was a stranger to Paul, and to the embittered feelings of the Jewish character. He would wish to conciliate their favor upon entering into the duties of his office. A strong representation, therefore, made by the chief men of the nation, would be likely to prejudice him violently against Paul, and to unfit him for the exercise of impartial justice.
(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Asking a favor
If we take the word "favor" 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.
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Lay in ambush
Laying wait in the way to kill him. That is, they would lie in wait, or they would employ a band of Sicarii, or assassins, to take his life on the journey. See the notes (Acts 23:12). It is altogether probable that if this request had been granted, Paul would have been killed. But God had promised him that he should bear witness to the truth at Rome (Acts 23:11), and his providence was remarkable in thus influencing the mind of the Roman governor, and defeating the plans of the Jewish council.
(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

The Judean leaders did not make a demand but made use of the opportunity to ingratiate themselves with Festus by giving him the pleasure of granting an apparently minor and harmless request. They counted on his ignorance of the reason why Sha’ul Saul had been sent down from Yerushalayim Jerusalem in the first place, namely, because of a plot not unlike the one described here. They hoped Festus would send Sha’ul with a small guard that could be easily overcome.
(From Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern.)

From the Amplified Bible
(2)  And [there] the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid charges before him against Paul, and they kept begging and urging him,
(3)  Asking as a favor that he would have him brought to Jerusalem; [meanwhile] they were planning an ambush to slay him on the way.

Acts 25:4 & 5
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(4)  But Festus answered that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself was going there shortly.

But Festus answered : That Paul was kept in Caesarea, and that he himself would very shortly depart thither.

(5)  "Therefore," he said, "let those who have authority among you go down with me and accuse this man, to see if there is any fault in him."

Let them, therefore, saith he, among you that are able, go down with me, and accuse him, if there be any crime in the man.


You would think that their anger would have subsided after two years, but it had not. Satan the murderer was hard at work (John 8:44). Festus was wise not to cooperate with their scheme, but he did invite the leaders to accompany him to Caesarea and face Paul once again.
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries.)

What induced Festus to refuse their request is not known. It is probable; however, that he was apprised that Paul was a Roman citizen, and that his case could not come before the Jewish Sanhedrin, but must be heard by himself. As Caesarea was also at that time the residence of the Roman governor and the place of holding the courts and as Paul was lodged there safely, there did not appear to be any sufficient reason for removing him to Jerusalem for trial. Festus, however, granted them all that they could reasonably ask, and assured them that he should have a speedy trial.
(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

See how he manages the prosecutors.
1. He will not do them the kindness to send for him to Jerusalem.
It does not appear that he had any suspicion, much less any certain information, of their bloody design to murder him by the way. Perhaps now they were more careful to keep their conspiracy secret than they had been before. God is not tied to one method, in working out salvation for his people. He can suffer the designs against them to be concealed, and yet not suffer them to be accomplished; and can make even the carnal policies of great men to serve his gracious purposes.
2. Yet he will do them the justice to hear what they have to say against Paul, if they will go down to Caesarea, and appear against him there. Festus will not take it for granted, as they desire he should, that there is wickedness in him, till it is proved upon him, and he has been heard in his own defense; but, if he be guilty, it lies upon them to prove him so.
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, PC Study Bible Formatted Electronic Database Copyright © 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

From the Amplified Bible
(4)  Festus answered that Paul was in custody in Caesarea and that he himself planned to leave for there soon.
(5)  So, said he, let those who are in a position of authority and are influential among you go down with me, and if there is anything amiss or criminal about the man, let them so charge him.


 
BEFORE  FESTUS - PAUL  APPEALS  TO  CAESAR

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Acts 25:6 & 7
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(6)  And when he had remained among them more than ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day, sitting on the judgment seat, he commanded Paul to be brought.

And having tarried among them no more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea, and the next day he sat in the judgment seat ; and commanded Paul to be brought.

(7)  When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood about and laid many serious complaints against Paul, which they could not prove,

Who being brought, the Jews stood about him, who were come down from Jerusalem, objecting many and grievous causes, which they could not prove ;


More than ten days
heeméras ou pleíous oktoó déka
days not more eight than ten
This is a negative expression in the Greek (literally "not more than eight or ten days").

The Syriac Peshitta reads it, "no more than eight or ten."
The Vulgate, "not more than eight or ten."
The Complete Jewish Bible, "at most eight or ten."
Most English translations read it, "not more" or "no more" than eight or ten.
The NIV has it "After spending eight or ten days with them."

Judgment seat
Sitting on his tribunal (NASB), pro tribunali, means that this is an official hearing.
(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

This would give Festus opportunity to review the case and get more facts. The Jews agreed, but the hearing brought out nothing new. The Jewish delegation (this time without their lawyer Tertullus) only repeated the same unfounded and unproved accusations, hoping that the governor would agree with them and put Paul to death (Acts 25:15-16).
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries.)

From the Amplified Bible
(6)  So when Festus had remained among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea, took his seat the next day on the judgment bench, and ordered Paul to be brought before him.
(7)  And when he arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood all around him, bringing many grave accusations against him which they were not able to prove.

Acts 25:8
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(8)  while he answered for himself, "Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all."

Paul making answer for himself : Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, no against Caesar, have I offended in any thing.


The accusations against Jewish law and temple (Acts 21:28) would be relevant to a Roman magistrate only if Paul had violated the sanctity of the temple, a charge that had not been demonstrated. An implication of treason (seditio) against Caesar, however, would be fatal.
(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

What did Paul do? He once again affirmed that he was innocent of any crime against the Jewish law, the temple, or the Roman government. Festus saw that no progress was being made, so he asked Paul if he would be willing to be tried in Jerusalem. He did this to please the Jews and probably did not realize that he was jeopardizing the life of his famous prisoner. But a Roman judge could not move a case to another court without the consent of the accused, and Paul refused to go! Instead, he claimed the right of every Roman citizen to appeal to Caesar.
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries.)

Once again no good case was made against Sha’ul, and once again he defended himself against the three major possible accusers —
the Pharisees concerned with the Torah;
the Sadducees & priests concerned with the Temple;
the Roman state embodied in the Emperor.
Luke omits the specifics of both accusation and defense.
(From Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern.)

Paul sums up the charges under the three items of law of the Jews, the temple, the Roman state (Caesar). This last was the one that would interest Festus and, if proved, would render Paul guilty of treason (majestas). Nero was Emperor 54 A.D. - 68 A.D., the last of the emperors with any hereditary claim to the name "Caesar."
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

From the Amplified Bible
(8)  Paul declared in [his own] defense, Neither against the Law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in any way.

Acts 25:9-11
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(9)  But Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and there be judged before me concerning these things?"

But Festus, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, answering Paul, said : Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?

(10)  So Paul said, "I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know.

Then Paul said : I stand at  Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no injury, as thou very well knowest.

(11)  For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar."

For if I have injured them, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die. But if there be none of these things whereof they accuse me, no man may deliver me to them : I appeal to Caesar.


Are you willing?
As a newcomer to Palestine, unfamiliar with Jewish affairs, Festus did not grasp the point of this argument (see v. 20). The accusations and the defense flatly contradicted each other. However, affairs were so unstable in Palestine that it seemed feasible for him to try to gain the good will of the Jewish leaders. They had previously urged that Paul be brought to Jerusalem for trial; Festus therefore suggested to the prisoner that the trial be transferred to Jerusalem to the scene of the alleged crimes.
(from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1962 by Moody Press. All rights reserved.)

Festus had changed his mind on this (cf. vv. 4-5), apparently feeling this would be a suitable compromise to placate the Jews. Also he was realizing he did not know how to handle this kind of religious case (v. 20).
(from Bible Knowledge Commentary/Old Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries; Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament Copyright © 1983, 2000 Cook Communications Ministries. All rights reserved.)

Inasmuch as the crime which Paul was accused of committing took place in Jerusalem, it was quite natural for Festus to ask Paul if he were willing to go there and be put on trial.
"Before me" is emphatic in the Greek sentence structure.
"Be tried on these charges before me" may be rendered as "have me judge these charges against you" or "have me judge if what they say against you is true."
(from the UBS New Testament Handbook Series. Copyright © 1961-1997, by United Bible Societies.)

I stand at Caesar's judgment seat
Every procurator represented the person of the emperor in the province over which he presided; and, as the seat of government was at Caesarea, and Paul was now before the tribunal on which the emperor's representative sat, he could say, with the strictest propriety, that he stood before Caesar's judgment seat, where, as a freeman of Rome, he should be tried.
(from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Extensive parallels between Jesus' hearings in Luke 23 and Paul's in Acts 25-26 indicate that Luke wishes to parallel them, as some other historians paralleled figures; his point is that Christians must follow in Jesus' footsteps.

Roman citizens had the right to appeal to Caesar's tribunal (provocatio ad Caesarem), although the emperor in this period normally delegated the hearing and judging of cases to others. Later, the governor Pliny in Bithynia executed many Christians but sent those who were citizens to Rome for trial. Non-citizen provincials had no automatic right to appeal a governor's decision (except to accuse the governor of extortion or on a capital charge).
(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

The procurator, or governor, held his commission from the Roman emperor, and it was, in fact, his tribunal. The reason why Paul made this declaration may be thus expressed:
"I am a Roman citizen. I have a right to justice. I am under no obligation to put myself again in the hands of the Jews. I have a right to a fair and impartial trial; and I claim the protection and privileges which all Roman citizens have before their tribunals-the right of a fair and just trial."
It was, therefore, a severe rebuke of Festus for proposing to depart from the known justice of the Roman laws, and, for the sake of popularity, proposing to him to put himself in the hands of his enemies.

Festus knew, probably, that Paul had been tried by Felix, and that nothing was proved against him.
He had now seen the spirit of the Jews, and the cause why they arraigned him.
He had given Paul a trial, and had called on the Jews to adduce their "able" men to accuse him, and after all nothing had been proved against him.
Festus knew, therefore, that he was innocent. This abundantly appears also from his own confession, Acts 25:18-19. As he knew this, and as Festus was proposing to depart from the regular course of justice for the sake of popularity, it was proper for Paul to use the strong language of rebuke, and to claim what he knew Festus did not dare to deny him, the protection of the Roman laws.
Conscious innocence may be bold; and Christians have a right to insist on impartial justice and the protection of the laws.
Alas! how many magistrates there have been like Festus, who, when Christians have been arraigned before them, have been fully satisfied of their innocence, but who, for the sake of popularity, have departed from all the rules of law and all the claims of justice.
(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

I appeal to Caesar
What led Paul to make that wise decision?
For one thing, he knew that his destination was Rome, not Jerusalem; and the fastest way to get there was to appeal to Caesar.
Paul also knew that the Jews had not given up their hopes of killing him so he was wise to stay under the protection of Rome. By appealing to Caesar, Paul forced the Romans to guard him and take him to Rome.
Finally, Paul realized that he could never have a fair trial in Jerusalem anyway, so why go?
It must have infuriated the Jewish leaders when Paul, by one statement took the case completely out of their hands. He made it clear that he was willing to die if he could be proved guilty of a capital crime, but first they had to find him guilty. Festus met with his official council, and they agreed to send Paul to Nero for trial. No doubt the new governor was somewhat embarrassed that he had handled one of his first cases so badly that the prisoner was forced to appeal to Caesar, and to Caesar he must go!
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries.)

By the Valerian, Porcian, and Sempronian laws, it had been enacted that if any magistrate should be about to beat, or to put to death any Roman citizen, the accused could appeal to the Roman people, and this appeal carried the cause to Rome. The law was so far changed under the emperors that the cause should be carried before the emperor instead of the people. Every citizen had the right of this appeal; and when it was made, the accused was sent to Rome for trial. Thus, Pliny (Eph. 1:0,97 ) says that those Christians who were accused, and who, being Roman citizens, appealed to Caesar, he sent to Rome to be tried.

The reason why Paul made this appeal was that he saw that justice would not be done him by the Roman governor. He had been tried by Felix, and justice had been denied him, and he was detained a prisoner in violation of law, to gratify the Jews; he had now been tried by Festus, and saw that he was pursuing the same course; and he resolved, therefore, to assert his rights, and remove the cause far from Jerusalem, and from the prejudiced people in that city, at once to Rome. It was in this mysterious way that Paul's long-cherished desire to see the Roman church, and to preach the gospel there was to be gratified. For this he had prayed long, and now at length this purpose was to be fulfilled.
God answers prayer, but it is often in a way which we little anticipate.
He so orders the train of events;
he so places us amidst a pressure of circumstances, that the desire is granted in a way which we could never have anticipated, but which shows in the best manner that he is a hearer of prayer.
(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Roman citizens could make this appeal in capital offences. There would be expense connected with it, but better that with some hope than delay and certain death in Jerusalem. Festus was no better than Felix in his vacillation and desire to curry favor with the Jews at Paul's expense. No doubt Paul's long desire to see Rome and the promise of Jesus that he would see Rome played some part in Paul's decision. But he made it reluctantly for he says in Rome (Acts 28:19): "I was constrained to appeal." But acquittal at the hands of Festus with the hope of going to Rome as a free man had vanished.
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

From the Amplified Bible
(9)    But Festus, wishing to ingratiate himself with the Jews, answered Paul, Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and there be put on trial [before the Jewish Sanhedrin] in my presence concerning these charges?
(10)  But Paul replied, I am standing before Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you know better [than your question implies].
(11)  If then I am a wrongdoer and a criminal and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not beg off and seek to escape death; but if there is no ground for their accusations against me, no one can give me up and make a present of me [give me up freely] to them. I appeal to Caesar.

Acts 25:12
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(12)  Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, "You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!"

Then Festus having conferred with the council, answered : Hast thou appealed to Caesar? To Caesar shalt thou go.


A Roman judge normally had a consilium, or council, with whom to confer; because a governor might not be learned in the law (iuris prudentes), it was important for him to have some advisors who were, although he was ultimately free to disregard their counsel. A citizen could appeal a capital sentence (appelatio), but appealing before a case had been heard (provocatio), as Paul does here, was less common, because it was not necessarily advantageous. Festus has reason to comply with Paul's request. The political implications of dismissing an appeal to Caesar were unpleasant, whereas the benefits of sending Paul to Rome free Festus from having to disappoint the Jerusalem leaders if his own juridical conclusions differ from theirs.
(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

With his associate judges, or with those who were his counselors in the administration of justice. They were made up of the chief persons, probably military as well as civil, who were about him, and who were his assistants in the administration of the affairs of the province.
He was willing in this way to rid himself of the trial, and of the vexation attending it.
He did not dare to deliver him to the Jews in violation of the Roman laws.
He was not willing to do justice to Paul, and thus make himself unpopular with the Jews.
He was, therefore, probably rejoiced at the opportunity of thus freeing himself from all the trouble in the case in a manner against which none could object.
(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

HISTORICAL OUTLOOK FROM 400 A. D. BY ARCHBISHOP JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
Homily 51 - Acts 25:1-12
"Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem. 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." (ch. 25:1-3.) Here now God's providence interposed, not permitting the governor to do this: for it was natural that he having just come to the government would wish to gratify them: but God suffered him not. "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. 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." (v. 4-6.)
But after they came down, they forthwith made their accusations shamelessly and with more vehemence: and not having been able to convict him on grounds relating to the Law, they again according to their custom stirred the question about Caesar, being just what they did in Christ's case. For that they had recourse to this is manifest by the fact, that Paul defends himself on the score of offences against Caesar. "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. While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended anything at all. 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"? (v. 7-9.) Wherefore he too gratifies the Jews, the whole people, and the city. Such being the case, Paul terrifies him also, using a human weapon for his defense.
"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 anything 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." (v. 10, 11.) Some one might say, How is it, that having been told, "Thou must also bear witness of Me in Rome," (ch. 11), he, as if unbelieving, did this?
God forbid: nay, he did it, because he so strongly believed. For it would have been a tempting of God to be bold on account of that declaration, and to cast himself into numberless dangers, and to say: "Let us see if God is able even thus to deliver me." But not so does Paul; no, he does his part, all that in him lies, committing the whole to God. Quietly also he reproves the governor: for, "If, says he, I am an offender, thou doest well: but if not, why dost thou give me up?" "No man," he says, "may sacrifice me." He put him in fear, so that even if he wished, he could not sacrifice him to them; while also as an excuse to them he had Paul's appeal to allege. "Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go. And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus." (v. 12, 13.)
(from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1, Volume 11, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Excerpts from "The Apostle: A Life of Paul"
The new Procurator of Judea was Porcius Festus, a man of better background and higher principles, whose endeavors to rule the turbulent province broke his health: he died in office after two years.
As soon as he had been installed at the beginning of July 59, Porcius Festus left Caesarea to visit Jerusalem. Inevitably, among many other matters, the High Priest and the Sanhedrin raised the question of Paul. The young zealots who had rashly vowed neither to eat nor to drink until they had killed Paul, and presumable had walked around for two years under a dispensation, would be waiting to ambush him in a wadi or a wood. Festus ruined the plan, probably quite undeliberately. He merely suited his own convenience when he refused to order Paul to Jerusalem.
Festus returned with his retinue to Caesarea, and next morning took the bench as Chief Justice of Judea. The first case was Paul's. The moment Paul entered, the Jews from Jerusalem converged on him in the pent-up fury of two years' frustration, restrained only by the presence of the Procurator. As Festus describes the scene: "When confronted with him, his accusers did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected; but they had  some argument or other with him about their own religion and about a dead man called Jesus whom Paul alleged to be alive."  Though Luke does not precisely say so, he implies that at each indictment Festus asked for legal proof and none was offered.
Puzzled by the religious quarrel, he was ready to hand Paul over to the Sanhedrin. He addressed Paul: "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial on these charges before me there?"
Very deliberately Paul answered Festus: "I am standing at Caesar's tribunal and this is where I should be tried. I have done the Jews no wrong, as you very well know. If there is no substance in the accusations these persons bring against me, no one has a right to surrender me to them. I appeal to Caesar."
At that appeal, duly delivered in legal form, precedent demanded a short adjournment while the Procurator consulted his advisers whether to give leave.
Paul's appeal, though unexpected by Festus, was no sudden decision. In the past two years, as the case dragged on, Paul had thought out his next step. He must go to Rome. This offered a way. Moreover, the ruling of Gallio, that Christianity was a recognized cult, might not hold much longer; another governor could rule differently. The Emperor was Nero. But the young Nero of A.D. 59 still remained under the wise influence of Gallio's brother, Seneca, the greatest philosopher of the day. Neither Paul nor any provincial could forecast in 59 the awful degeneration of Nero into the despot whose name has been a byword for lust, cruelty and bad government.
All depended on Festus' willingness to grant Paul his right. After that, the wheels of justice would grind slowly but could not be reversed.
The court reconvened. Festus took his seat, then uttered the time-honored legal response.
"Have you appealed to Caesar? Unto Caesar you shall go."
(From "The Apostle: A Life of Paul," by John Pollock; RiverOak Publishing, a division of Cook Communication Ministries)

From the Amplified Bible
(12)  Then Festus, when he had consulted with the [men who formed his] council, answered, You have appealed to Caesar; to Caesar you shall go.



FESTUS  CONSULTS  WITH  KING  AGRIPPA II

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Acts 25:13-15
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(13)  And after some days King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to greet Festus.

And after some days, king Agrippa and Bernice came down to Caesarea to salute Festus.

(14)  When they had been there many days, Festus laid Paul's case before the king, saying: "There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix,

And as they tarried there many days, Festus told the king of Paul, saying : A certain man was left prisoner by Felix.

(15)  about whom the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, when I was in Jerusalem, asking for a judgment against him.

About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests, and the ancients of the Jews, came unto me, desiring condemnation against him.


King Agrippa
When Agrippa I died (12:23), his son, Agrippa II (here), was only seventeen; his (Agrippa I) daughters were Berenice (sixteen), Mariamne (ten) and Drusilla (six). Agrippa II ruled a small part of Palestine and worked with the Roman administration. He was an advocate for his people but was also loyal to Rome and later struck a coin in A.D. 89 commemorating Rome's triumph over the Jewish rebels. Josephus's record shows that Agrippa visited Roman officials frequently, especially when they first arrived. Festus later took Agrippa's side in a dispute with the priests.
(IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament)

The new governor's problems were not over. He had managed not to offend the Jews, but he had not determined the legal charges against his prisoner. How could he send such a notable prisoner to the emperor and not have the man's crimes listed against him? About that time, Festus had a state visit from Herod Agrippa II and Herod's sister, Bernice. This youthful king, the last of the Herodians to rule, was
the great-grandson of the Herod who killed the Bethlehem babies (Matthew 2:16)
the son of the Herod who killed the Apostle James (Acts 12)
The fact that his sister lived with him created a great deal of suspicion on the part of the Jewish people, for their Law clearly condemned incest (Leviticus 18:1-18; 20:11-21). Rome had given Herod Agrippa II legal jurisdiction over the temple in Jerusalem, so it was logical that Festus share Paul's case with him.
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries.)

This Agrippa was the son of Herod Agrippa (Acts 12:1), and great-grandson of Herod the Great. His mother's name was Cypros (Josephus, Jewish Wars, book 2, chapter 11, and section 6). When his father died he was at Rome with the Emperor Claudius. Josephus says that the emperor was inclined to bestow upon him his entire father's dominions, but was dissuaded by his ministers.

The reason of this was that it was thought imprudent to bestow so large a kingdom on so young a man, and one so inexperienced. Accordingly, Claudius sent Cuspius Fadus to be procurator of Judea and of the entire kingdom (Josephus, Antiq., book 19, chapter 9, and section 2). When Herod, the brother of his father, Agrippa the Great, died in the eighth year of the reign of Claudius, his kingdom - the kingdom of Chalcis - was bestowed by Claudius on Agrippa (Josephus, Antiq., book 20, chapter 5, and section 2). Afterward, he bestowed on him the tetrarchy of Philip and Batanea, and added to it Trachonitis with Abila (Antiq., book 20, chapter 7, section 1). After the death of Claudius, Nero, his successor, added to his dominions Julias in Perea and a part of Galilee. Agrippa had been brought up at Rome, and was strongly attached to the Romans.

When the troubles commenced in Judea which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem, he did all that he could to preserve peace and order, but in vain. He afterward joined his troops with those of the Romans, and assisted them at the destruction of Jerusalem. After the captivity of that city he went to Rome with his sister Bernice, where he ended his days. He died at the age of seventy years, about 90 AD His manner of living with his sister gave occasion to reports respecting him very little to his advantage.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)
 

THE HEROD FAMILY
Name Reference Date of Rule Description
Herod the Great Matthew 2:1-18;
Luke 1:5
37–4 B.C. Half Jewish; eager to please the Roman authorities who decreed him king of the Jews; slaughtered the innocent baby boys of Bethlehem
Herod Philip I Matthew 14:3b;
Mark 6:17
4 B.C.–A.D. 34 Son of Herod the Great; married Herodias,
his niece
Herod Antipas Mark 6:14-29;
Luke 3:1,13;
Luke 23:7-12
4 B.C.–A.D. 39 Son of Herod the Great; Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea; called a “fox” by Jesus; ordered the execution of John the Baptist; presided over the trial of Jesus
Herod Archelaus Matthew 2:22 4 B.C.–A.D. 6 Son of Herod the Great; Ethnarch of Judea, Samaria, and Idumea
Herod Philip II Luke 3:1 4 B.C.–A.D. 34 Son of Herod the Great; Tetrarch of Iturea and Trachonitis; married Salome, the daughter of Herodias
Herod Agrippa I Acts 12:1-11 A.D. 37–44 Grandson of Herod the Great; king over Palestine; had James the apostle killed and Peter imprisoned
Herodias Matthew 14:3;
Mark 6:17
  Granddaughter of Herod the Great; sister of Agrippa I; married her Uncle Herod Philip I, and later her uncle Herod Antipas
Herod Agrippa II Acts 25:13–26:32 A.D. 50–70 Son of Herod Agrippa I; Tetrarch of Chalcis; presided over Paul’s trial
Drusilla Acts 23:25–24:27   Daughter of Herod Agrippa I; wife of Felix (procurator of Judea, A.D. 52–59)
Bernice Acts 25:13; 26:30   Daughter of Herod Agrippa I; sister and mistress of Herod Agrippa II
(from The Tyndale Handbook of Bible Charts & Maps. Copyright 2001 (c) by Neil S. Wilson & Linda K. Taylor.)
(Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois)

Bernice
Berenice (also spelled Bernice) was Agrippa's sister. Some ancient writers maligned her close relationship with her brother Agrippa II, slandering it as incestuous, but their charge is unlikely.  She later became the mistress of the Roman general Titus, who besieged Jerusalem, but once he became emperor so much scandal arose about his consorting with a Jewish woman that he was forced to ignore her; she finally left Rome brokenhearted. She was fifteen years older than Titus.
(IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament)

The history of Bernice, or Berenice (the name seems to have been a Macedonian form of Pherenice), reads like a horrible romance, or a page from the chronicles of the Borgias. She was the eldest daughter of Herod Agrippa I, and was married at an early age to her uncle the king of Chalets. Alliances of this nature were common in the Herodian house, and the Herodias of the Gospels passed from an incestuous marriage to an incestuous adultery (See Matt 14:4). On his death Berenice remained for some years a widow, but dark rumors began to spread that her brother Agrippa, who had succeeded to the principality of Chalcis, and who gave her, as in the instance before us, something like queenly honors, was living with her in a yet darker form of incest, and was producing in Judaea the vices of which his father's friend, Caligula, had set so terrible an example (Sueton. "Calig." c. 24). With a view to screening herself against these suspicions, she persuaded Polemon, king of Cilicia, to take her as his queen, and to profess himself a convert to Judaism, as Azizus had done for her sister Drusilla, and accept circumcision. The ill-omened marriage did not prosper. The queen's unbridled passions once more gained the mastery. She left her husband, and he got rid at once of her and her religion. Her powers of fascination, however, were still great, and she knew how to profit by them in the hour of her country's ruin. Vespasian was attracted by her queenly dignity, and yet more by the magnificence of her queenly gifts. His son Titus took his place in her long list of lovers. She came as his mistress to Rome, and it was said that he had promised her marriage. This, however, was more than even the senate of the empire could tolerate, and Titus was compelled by the pressure of public opinion to dismiss her, but his grief in doing so was matter of notoriety. "Dimisit invitus invitam" (Sueton. "Titus," c. 7; Tacit, "Hist." 2:81; Jos. "Ant." 20:7, § 3). The whole story furnished Juvenal with a picture of depravity which stands almost as a pendent to that of Messalina ("Sat." 6:155-9).
(from The Biblical Illustrator Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006 Ages Software, Inc. and Biblesoft, Inc.)

Bernice was Agrippa's sister, so their relationship was incestuous. Felix's wife Drusilla (24:24) was sister of both. Bernice was later mistress of two emperors, Vespasian and Titus, and almost became Empress. Obviously she had long since given up whatever vestiges of Jewish religion and morals she might have once had.

Festus laid Paul's case before the king
He did this, probably, because Agrippa, being a Jew, would be supposed to he interested in the case. It was natural that this trial should be a topic of conversation, and perhaps Festus might be disposed to ask what was proper to be done in such cases.
[Left in bonds] Greek: "a prisoner" - desmios (NT: 1198). He was left in custody, probably in the keeping of a soldier, Acts 24:23, 27.

King Agrippa. Herod Agrippa II, the last Herodian king, was raised in Rome and made king in 50 C. E., six years after the death of his father Herod Agrippa I (see 12:3). His capital was Caesarea Philippi (modern Banyas), at the foot of Mount Hermon, some 40 miles northeast of Caesarea, where modern Israel, Lebanon and Syria meet.

From the Amplified Bible
(13)  Now after an interval of some days, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus [to welcome him and wish him well].
(14)  And while they remained there for many days, Festus acquainted the king with Paul's case, telling him, There is a man left a prisoner in chains by Felix;
(15)  And when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me about him, petitioning for a judicial hearing and condemnation of him.

Acts 25:16-19
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(16)  To them I answered, 'It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.'

To whom I answered : It is not the custom of the Romans to condemn any man, before that he who is accused have his accusers present, and have liberty to make his answer, to clear himself of the things laid to his charge.

(17)  Therefore when they had come together, without any delay, the next day I sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in.

When therefore they were come hither, without any delay, on the day following, sitting in the judgment seat, I commanded the man to be brought.

(18)  When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed,

Against whom, when the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation of things which I thought ill of :

(19)  but had some questions against him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.

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


Roman law required that the accused be permitted to confront his accusers and defend himself against charges in a public hearing.

The real issue here is one of Jewish law — one not tried by Roman courts. Luke again shows the Roman impression that Christianity was part of Judaism and thus should be accorded legal toleration.
(IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament)

Festus was smart enough to understand that the Jewish case against Paul had nothing to do with civil law. It was purely a matter of "religious questions" (Acts 18:14-15; 23:29) which the Romans were unprepared to handle, especially the doctrine of the Resurrection. Acts 25:19 proves that Paul was defending much more than the resurrection in general. He was declaring and defending the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
(The Bible Exposition Commentary.)

He here states the reasons which he gave the Jews for not delivering Paul into their hands. In Acts 25:4-5, we have an account of the fact that he would not accede to the requests of the Jews; and he here states that the reason of his refusal was that it was contrary to the Roman law. Appian, in his Roman History, says, "It is not their custom to condemn men before they are heard." Philo (DePraesi. Rom.) says the same thing. In Tacitus (History, ii.) it is said, "A defendant is not to be prohibited from adducing all things by which his innocence may be established."

It was for this that the equity of the Roman jurisprudence was celebrated throughout the world. We may remark that it is a subject of sincere gratitude to the God of our nation that this privilege is enjoyed in the highest perfection in this land. It is a right which every man has: to be heard; to know the charges against him; to be confronted with the witnesses; to make his defense; and to be tried by the laws, and not by the passions and caprices of people. In this respect our jurisprudence surpasses all that Rome ever enjoyed, and is not inferior to that of the most favored nation of the earth.

No charge as Festus expected of a breach of the peace; of a violation of the Roman law; of atrocious crime. It was natural that Festus should suppose that they would accuse Paul of some such offence. He had been arraigned before Felix; had been two years in custody; and the Jews were exceedingly violent against him. All this, Festus would presume, must have arisen from some flagrant and open violation of the laws.

Their own religion
Religion = deisidaimonias (NT: 1175) - superstition.
This word properly denotes "the worship or fear of demons"; but it was applied by the Greeks and Romans to the worship of their gods. It is the same word which is used in Acts 17:22, where it is used in a good sense.

There are two reasons for thinking that Festus used the word here in a good sense, and not in the sense in which we use the word "superstition":
(1) It was the word by which the worship of the Greeks and Romans, and, therefore, of Festus himself, was denoted, and he would naturally use it in a similar sense in applying it to the Jews. He would describe their worship in such language as he was accustomed to use when speaking of religion.
(2) He knew that Agrippa was a Jew. Festus would not probably speak of the religion of his royal guest as superstition, but would speak of it with respect. He meant, therefore, to say simply that they had certain inquiries about their own religion, but accused him of no crime against the Roman laws.

Jesus who had died
It is evident that Festus had no belief that Jesus had been raised up, and in this he would expect that Agrippa would concur with him. Paul had admitted that Jesus had been put to death, but he maintained that he had been raised from the dead. As Festus did not believe this, he spoke of it with the utmost contempt. "They had a dispute about one dead Jesus, whom Paul affirmed to be alive." In this manner a Roman magistrate could speak of this glorious truth of the Christian religion, and this shows the spirit with which the great mass of philosophers and statesmen regarded its doctrines.
(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Gallio in similar circumstances had refused to sit in judgment on a matter of internal concern among Jews (18:12-16). Festus was less wise. Nevertheless this Gentile's description of the dispute as one about certain points of their own religion is additional evidence that Messianic Judaism is a form of Judaism.
(From Jewish New Testament Commentary Copyright © 1992 by David H. Stern.)

From the Amplified Bible
(16)  But I replied to them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up freely any man for punishment before the accused had met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to defend himself concerning the charge brought against him.
(17)  So when they came here together, I did not delay, but on the morrow took my place on the judgment seat and ordered that the man be brought before me.
(18)  [But] when the accusers stood up, they brought forward no accusation [in his case] of any such misconduct as I was expecting.
(19)  Instead they had some points of controversy with him about their own religion or superstition and concerning one Jesus, Who had died but Whom Paul kept asserting [over and over] to be alive.

Acts 25:20-22
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(20)  And because I was uncertain of such questions, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters.

I therefore being in a doubt of this manner of question, asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things.

(21)  But when Paul appealed to be reserved for the decision of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I could send him to Caesar."

But Paul appealing to the reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept, till I might send him to Caesar.

(22)  Then Agrippa said to Festus, "I also would like to hear the man myself."
"Tomorrow," he said, "you shall hear him."

And Agrippa said to Festus : I would also hear the man, myself. Tomorrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.


Festus gave the impression that he wanted to move the trial to Jerusalem because the "Jewish questions" could be settled only by Jewish people in Jewish territory. It was a pure fabrication, of course, because his real reason was to please the Jewish leaders, most of whom King Herod knew.
(The Bible Exposition Commentary.)

As a newcomer, Festus would naturally want the counsel of Agrippa, who knew Judaism but was more sympathetic to Roman interests than the priestly aristocracy was proving to be. Agrippa had a good Greek education, and Festus might have gravitated to him as one of the few local people with whom he could talk. (IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament)

It is obvious, that if Paul was not found guilty of any violation of the laws, he should have been at once discharged. Some interpreters understand this as affirming that he was not satisfied about the question of Paul's innocence, or certain whether he ought to be set at liberty or not.

The reigning emperor at this time was Nero. The name Augustus Sebastos (NT: 4575) properly denotes "what is venerable, or worthy of honor and reverence." It was first applied to Caesar Octavianus, who was the Roman emperor in the time when our Savior was born, and who is usually named Augustus Caesar. But the title continued to be used of his successors in office, as denoting the veneration or reverence which was due to the rank of emperor.

Agrippa doubtless had heard much of the fame of Jesus, and of the new sect of Christians, and probably he was induced by mere curiosity to hear what Paul could say in explanation and defense of Christianity. This wish of Agrippa gave occasion to the noblest defense which was ever made before any tribunal, and to as splendid eloquence as can be found in any language. See Acts 26:23.
(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

From the Amplified Bible
(20)  And I, being puzzled to know how to make inquiries into such questions, asked whether he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and there be tried regarding them.
(21)  But when Paul had appealed to have his case retained for examination and decision by the emperor, I ordered that he be detained until I could send him to Caesar.
(22)  Then Agrippa said to Festus, I also desire to hear the man myself. Tomorrow, [Festus] replied, you shall hear him.

Acts 25:23-25
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(23)  So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus' command Paul was brought in.

And on the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice were come with great pomp, and had entered into the hall of audience, with the tribunes, and principal men of the city, at Festus' commandment, Paul was brought forth.

(24)  And Festus said: "King Agrippa and all the men who are here present with us, you see this man about whom the whole assembly of the Jews petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying out that he was not fit to live any longer.

And Festus saith : King Agrippa, and all ye men who are here present with us, you see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews dealt with me at Jerusalem, requesting and crying out that he ought not to live any longer.

(25)  But when I found that he had committed nothing deserving of death, and that he himself had appealed to Augustus, I decided to send him.

Yet have I found nothing that he hath committed worthy of death. But forasmuch as he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him.


The pomp
Fantasias  (NT: 5325) - "with much phantasy" - a vain show,  parade, and splendor

Luke's mention here was characteristic of royal families, including Jewish ones (e.g., 1 Maccabees 11:6). The "commanders" (NASB) or "officers" (NIV) are the five tribunes, Roman commanders of the five cohorts in Caesarea and each equal in rank to the one tribune in Jerusalem (21:31).
(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

It seems incredible that of this pomp and ceremony was because of one little Jewish man who preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ! But the Lord had promised Paul he would bear witness before "Gentiles and kings" (Acts 9:15), and that promise was being fulfilled again. Once Paul was finished with his witness, all his hearers would know how to be saved and would be without excuse. They met in an "audience room" in the palace, and the key military men and officers of the Roman government were there. Paul's case had probably been discussed by various official people many times over the past two years, so very few of those present were ignorant of the affair.
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries.)

They had not accused Paul of any crime against the Roman laws; and Festus professes himself too ignorant of the customs of the Jews to inform the emperor distinctly of the nature of the charges and the subject of trial.
[Unto my lord] To the emperor-to Caesar. This name Lord the Emperors Augustus and Tiberius had rejected, and would not suffer it to be applied to them. Suetonius (Life of Augustus, v. 53) says "the appellation of Lord he always abhorred as abominable and execrable." See also Suetonius' Life of Tiberius, v. 27. The emperors that succeeded them, however, admitted the title, and suffered themselves to be called by this name. Nothing would be more satisfactory to Nero, the reigning emperor, than this title.
(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Three aspects of Paul's appearance before Felix and Agrippa stand out.
First The public nature of this hearing.
The first two had been legal trials; this time Paul defended himself in a formal audience before these two officials.
Second Both officials declared Paul's innocence.
Festus's preliminary comments to Agrippa indicated that the Jews' charges were religious rather than political. Before Paul spoke, Festus repeated the words of Lysias the tribune, declaring that Paul had done nothing "worthy of death." After speaking to Paul, even Agrippa declared his innocence.
Third The nature of Paul's defense.
Like the other two occasions, Paul proclaimed his innocence of any wrongdoing. In this case, however, he went on to share his own personal experience and to call Agrippa and all those who heard to faith in God.
Three times Paul appeared before Roman officials; each time no official verdict was rendered. Paul was about to realize his desire to preach the gospel in Rome.
(from Holman Bible Handbook. (c) Copyright 1992 by Holman Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(23)  So the next day Agrippa and Bernice approached with great display, and they went into the audience hall accompanied by the military commandants and the prominent citizens of the city. At the order of Festus Paul was brought in.
(24)  Then Festus said, King Agrippa and all the men present with us, you see this man about whom the whole Jewish people came to me and complained, both at Jerusalem and here, insisting and shouting that he ought not to live any longer.
(25)  But I found nothing that he had done deserving of death. Still, as he himself appealed to the emperor, I determined to send him to Rome.

Acts 25:26 & 27
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(26)  I have nothing certain to write to my lord concerning him. Therefore I have brought him out before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the examination has taken place I may have something to write.

Of whom I have nothing certain to write to my lord. For which cause I have brought him forth before you, and especially before thee, O king Agrippa, that examination being made, I may have what to write.

(27)  For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him."

For it seemeth to me unreasonable le to send a prisoner, and not to signify the things laid to his charge.


The charge against Paul is political, but all the evidence involves Jewish religion, which would be incomprehensible to Roman procurators. Agrippa II is the first official competent in both Roman and Jewish law to hear Paul's defense; he will thus supply the evaluation for Festus's letter to Nero.
(From IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament by Craig S. Keener Copyright © 1993 by Craig S. Keener. Published by InterVarsity Press.)

Festus needed something definite to send to the Emperor Nero, and perhaps Agrippa could supply it ("Augustus" in Acts 25:21, 25 is a title, "the august one," and not a proper name.) The king was an expert in Jewish matters (Acts 26:2-3) and certainly would be keenly interested in knowing more about this man who caused a riot in the temple. Perhaps Herod could assist Festus in finding out the real charges against Paul, and perhaps Festus could assist Herod in learning more about Jewish affairs in the holy city.

Festus was certainly exaggerating when he said that "the multitude of the Jews" had pressed charges against Paul, but that kind of statement would make the Jews present feel much better. Acts 25:25 gives us the second of Luke's "Official statements" declaring Paul's innocence (see Acts 23:29); and there will be others before his book is completed. In his flowery speech before Agrippa, Festus indicated that he wanted the king to examine Paul, but there is no record that he did. In fact, before the session ended, Paul became the judge, and Festus, King Agrippa, and Bernice became the defendants! Paul was indeed defending himself, but at the same time, he was presenting the truth of the Gospel and witnessing to the difference Jesus Christ can make in a person's life. This is the longest of Paul's speeches found in Acts.
(From The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries.)

As Agrippa was a Jew, and was acquainted with the customs and doctrine of the Jews, Festus supposed that, after hearing Paul, he would be able to inform him of the exact nature of these charges, so that he could present the case intelligibly to the emperor.

Festus felt that he was placed in an embarrassing situation. He was about to send a prisoner to Rome who had been tried by himself, and who had appealed from his jurisdiction, and yet he was ignorant of the charges against him, and of the nature of his offences, if any had been committed.

When prisoners were sent to Rome to be tried before the emperor, it would be proper that the charges should be all specified, and the evidence stated by which they were supported, Yet Festus could do neither.

In concluding this chapter, we may observe:
(1) That in the case of Agrippa, we have an instance of the reasons which induce many people to hear the gospel. He had no belief in it; he had no concern for its truth or its promises; but he was led by curiosity to desire to hear a minister of the gospel of Christ. Curiosity thus draws multitudes to the sanctuary. In many instances they remain unaffected and unconcerned. They listen, and are unmoved, and die in their sins. In other instances, like Agrippa, they are almost persuaded to be Christians, Acts 26:28. But, like him, they resist the appeals, and die uninterested in the plan of salvation. In some instances they are converted, and their curiosity, like that of Zaccheus, is made the means of their embracing the Savior, Luke 19:1-9. Whatever may be the motive which induces people to desire to hear, it is the duty of the ministry cheerfully and thankfully, like Paul, to state the truth, and to defend the Christian religion.
(2) In Festus we have a specimen of the manner in which the great, and the rich, and the proud usually regard Christianity. They esteem it to be a subject in which they have no interest in a question about "one dead Jesus," whom Christians affirm to be alive. Whether he is alive or not; whether Christianity is true or false, they suppose is a question which does not pertain to them. Strange that it did not occur to Festus that if he was alive, his religion was true; and that it was possible that it might be from God. And strange that the people of this world regard the Christian religion as a subject in which they have no personal interest, but as one concerning which Christians only should inquire, and in which they alone should feel any concern.
(3) In Paul we have the example of a man unlike both Festus and Agrippa. He felt a deep interest in the subject a subject which pertained as much to them as to him. He was willing not only to look at it, but to stake his life, his reputation, his all, on its truth. He was willing to defend it everywhere, and before any class of people. At the same time that he urged his rights as a Roman citizen, yet it was mainly that he might preach the gospel. At the same time that he was anxious to secure justice to himself, yet his chief anxiety was to declare the truth of God. Before any tribunal; before any class of people; in the presence of princes, nobles, and kings, of Romans and of Jews, he was ready to pour forth irresistible eloquence and argument in defense of the truth. Who would not rather be Paul than either Festus or Agrippa? Who would not rather be a prisoner. like him, than invested with authority like Festus, or clothed in splendor like Agrippa? And who would not rather be a believer of the gospel like Paul, than, like them, to be cold condemners or neglecters of the God that made them, and of the Savior that died and rose again?
(From Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

HISTORICAL OUTLOOK FROM 400 A. D. BY ARCHBISHOP JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
Homily 51 - Acts 25:13-22
Observe, he communicates the matter to Agrippa, so that there should be other hearers once more, both the king, and the army, and Bernice. Thereupon a speech in his exculpation. "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 license to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him. 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. And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether be 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." (v. 14-22.)
And observe a crimination of the Jews, not from Paul, but also from the governor. "Desiring," he says, "to have judgment against him." To whom I said, to their shame, that "it is not the manner of the Romans," before giving an opportunity to speak for himself, "to sacrifice a man." But I did give him (such opportunity), and I found no fault in him. "Because I doubted," says he, of "such manner of questions: he casts a veil also over his own wrong. Then the other desires to see him. But let us look again at what has been said.
See what an audience is gathered together for Paul. Having collected all his guards, the governor is come, and the king, and the tribunes, "with the principal men," it says, "of the city." Then Paul being brought forth, see how he is proclaimed as conqueror. Festus himself acquits him from the charges, for what says Festus? "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. 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 especially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write. For it seemed to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him." (v. 24-27.)
Mark how he accuses them, while he acquits him. O what an abundance of justifications! After all these repeated examinations, the governor finds not how he may condemn him. They said he was worthy of death. On this account he said also: "When I found," says he "that he had committed nothing worthy of death.-Of whom I have no certain thing to write to my lord."
This too is a proof of Paul's spotlessness, that the judge found nothing to say concerning him. "Therefore I have brought him forth," he says, "before you. For it seemed to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crime laid against him." Such were the great straits into which the Jews brought themselves and their rulers!
(From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 1, Volume 11, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.)

Excerpts from "The Apostle: A Life of Paul"
To this state function all the great men of Caesarea were invited, Jews and Gentiles, including the general officers of the military command. Many of the procurator's household were present in the audience hall, its pillared sides open to catch the air stirring lazily toward the Mediterranean, and Luke would have had no difficulty in securing a seat: his account of the proceedings bears all the marks of eye-witness. He noted the "great pomp" with which King Agrippa and Queen Bernice were escorted to their thrones, with blare of trumpets, waving of peacock feather fans and the rigid salutes of the generals. No doubt it amused Luke to watch Festus obsequiously giving precedence to a king he could topple at a flick of his finger.
Paul was brought in. Small, bandy-legged, almost stooping, but alert and vigorous in manner; gray-bearded now, a little less thin and wiry after two years in moderate comfort safe from stonings or beatings or long treks from city to city, yet with a frailty and a scarred face in sharp contrast to the hearty young soldier who led him, politely enough, by a chain.
Festus opened the proceedings. "King Agrippa! And all who are present with us: You see this man here about whom the whole Jewish people petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. But I found that he had done nothing deserving death; as he himself has appealed to the Emperor, I decided to send him. But I have nothing definite to write to my lord about him. Therefore I have brought him before you - and especially before you, King Agrippa! - that after we have examined him I may have something to write. For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to indicate the charge against him."
Festus resumed his seat.
(From "The Apostle: A Life of Paul," by John Pollock; RiverOak Publishing, a division of Cook Communication Ministries)

From the Amplified Bible
(26)  [However] I have nothing in particular and definite to write to my lord concerning him. So I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after [further] examination has been made, I may have something to put in writing.
(27)  For it seems to me senseless and absurd to send a prisoner and not state the accusations against him.




(End of Chapter Twenty Five)

 

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