Act 25:1 ¶ Now when Festus was come into the province, after
three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
COMMENT: The use of the word "ascended"
from Caesarea to Jerusalem first of all puts Jerusalem at the
top of the world and it suggests to us there was no small pomp
in his journey since he is the new governor of the region.
Act 25:2/3 Then the High Priest and the chief of the Jews
informed him against Paul, and besought him, and desired favour
against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait
in the way to kill him.
COMMENT: This kind of trechery existed among
the Jews in A.D. 59 as Israel approached their rebellion against
Rome to culminate eleven years later in A.D. 70-72 in the conquest
of Jerusalem by Co-emperor Titus and his armies.
The rulers of the Jews sought favor with the new governor Festus
to send Paul to Jerusalem so they could ambush him in the way
and kill him, the unjust wishing to kill the just.
Act 25:4 But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at
Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly [thither].
COMMENT: Festus turned the Jewish rulers down,
and went on to say:
Act 25:5 "Let them therefore," said he, "which among you are able,
go down with [me], and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness
COMMENT: Festus invited the Jewish rulers
to come to Caesarea to make their case against Paul.
Act 25:6 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.
COMMENT: Festus stayed in Jerusalem ten days
and the day after his arrival in Caesarea, he had Saint Paul brought
before the secular judgment seat there.
Act 25:7 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.
COMMENT: The Jewish rulers had no case. They
were persecutors of believers in Jesus and would kill them all if
that would stop them from competing for followers from among the
same constituency as they drew their power from, and from preaching
to them of their wickedness in having Christ crucified.
Act 25:8 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.
COMMENT: Paul made a very brief
summary of his defense.
Act 25:9 But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure,
answered Paul, and said, Will you go up to Jerusalem, and
there be judged of these things before me?
COMMENT: Festus was not interested in justice.
He had a political agenda and immediately addressed it; by asking
Paul if he would be willing to be judged by the Jewish religious
leaders in Jerusalem who were zealous to have him killed.
Act 25:10 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 you very well know.
COMMENT: Paul knew Festus was on the side
of those who wished to kill him, by asking him to return to
Jerusalem to be judged; so Paul rejected the offer
to go there and in doing so, he reproved Festus by concluding:
"to the Jews have I done no wrong, as you very well know."
We are hearing of two judgment seats: One is that of the Jewish
council of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem where religious judgments
took place. The other was that of Caesar's regional
judgment seat before
which Paul was present with Governor Festus presiding.
Act 25:11 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.
COMMENT: Saint Paul makes his appeal
for Caesar, the ruler of the Roman Empire to judge him. He has
been in custody for two years with liberty, but now that liberty
is gone; and the new governor favors those who wish to kill him
without a just cause. He knows
this will be accepted because the Lord visited him two years
earlier telling Paul in a vision he must witness of him in Rome.
Act 25:12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council,
answered, Have you appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shall you go.
COMMENT: We are left to imagine what Festus
must have said to the Jewish council, but it is clear they had no
case; and under those circumstances the governor could do nothing
for them. So Festus announced that Paul would be sent to Caesar.
Act 25:13 ¶ And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice
came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.
COMMENT: King Agrippa is the son of
of King Herod Agrippa who committed blasphemy before the people
in A.D. 45 and was eaten of worms. King Herod Agrippa,
his father had killed
some of his sons, leaving the dynasty in a state of confusion at
his death; and there was quite a fight among his remaining sons
for the throne;
so the Roman Emperor reduced this present King Agrippa's
kingdom to that of tetrarch of Galilee, Iturea, Abilene, and
Trachonitis. This was not quite as glorious a kingdom as his fathers
King Agrippa and his sister Bernice came to Caesarea for a
prolonged visit to make sure of their friendship with the new
governor Festus who ruled over Jerusalem and Judea which formerly
was in the power of the Herodian dynasty.
Act 25:14 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: About whom, when I was at Jerusalem,
the Chief Priests and the elders of the Jews informed [me],
desiring [to have] judgment against him.
COMMENT: Festus seemed to open
up to King Agrippa after
MANY DAYS telling him of the desire of the Jewish rulers to
have Paul brought before them in judgment.
Act 25:16 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.
COMMENT: Here Festus gives us a lesson in
Roman law as he explains to King Agrippa what he said to the
Act 25:17/19 Therefore, when they were come here, 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
no 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.
COMMENT: Festus explained to King Agrippa how
he was surprised to find out the Jewish rulers had no evidence
against Paul, just "certain questions against him" of their beliefs
with Paul disagreed, saying in regard to Christ who was dead,
Paul declared to be alive.
Act 25:20 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.
COMMENT: Festus makes it appear
he thought Paul would get a fair trial in Jerusalem, but
we know from the temper of the Jewish multitude there the
holy Apostle could not receive a fair trial.
Act 25:21 But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the
hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept til I might send
him to Caesar.
Act 25:22 Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear
the man myself." "To morrow," said he, "you shall hear him."
Act 25:23 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.
Act 25:24 And Festus said, "King Agrippa, and all men which are
here present with us, you 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.
COMMENT: Governor Festus is addressing all
who are present, but particularly King Agrippa who is preimminent
Act 25:25/26 But when I found that he had committed nothing
worthy of death, and that he himself has 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 specially
before you, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might
have somewhat to write.
COMMENT: Governor Festus makes it clear he
found no guilt in Saint Paul. He ought to have released
Paul, and to have cleared his good name; but to show the Jewish rulers
political favor - he accepted Paul's appeal to be judged by
Caesar, and was determined to send him; although he had nothing to
write to Caesar since there was no evidence.
Act 25:27 "For it seemes to me unreasonable to send a prisoner,
and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him."