It is nothing for the most excellent ones of the earth to have all manner of evil said against them falsely for Christ’s sake and to be represented even in courts as odious and harmful to society. Nevertheless God is able to make men’s worldly policies serve His own purpose (Psalm 76:10), and when enemies think to block the gates of the Gospel, He is able to open them wider.
1 Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
2 Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him,
3 And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.
4 But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither.
5 Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him.
6 And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought.
7 And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.
8 While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.
9 But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?
10 Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.
11 For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.
12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.
13 And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.
14 And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul’s cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix:
15 About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.
16 To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.
17 Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth.
18 Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed:
19 But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.
20 And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters.
21 But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar.
22 Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.
23 And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus’ commandment Paul was brought forth.
24 And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer.
25 But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him.
26 Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write.
27 For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.
Acts 25:1-9 – J. Vernon McGee
Acts 25:10 – J. Vernon McGee
Acts 25:11-12 – J. Vernon McGee
Acts 25:13-27 – J. Vernon McGee
Acts 25:1-12 – Granting Appeal to Caesar
How inveterately must these Jews have hated Paul, when after two years they still thirsted for his blood! It would never have done for the trial to be transferred to Jerusalem, as the Jews had requested. If Paul had been brought thither, many plots might have been set on foot for the purpose of ending his life, especially if Festus proved as amenable to a bribe as had his predecessor. Festus was quite prepared to humor the Jews by granting such a transference, and there was no way of averting it other than Paul’s availing himself of his right as a Roman citizen to be tried by the emperor himself.
The appeal was a great surprise. Festus himself was probably annoyed. It would not be agreeable to him to have his jurisdiction superseded on this the first occasion of holding a public inquiry. But there was no question that the appeal was admissible, and Festus had therefore no alternative. How strangely God was fulfilling His own word, So must thou bear witness also at Rome (Acts 23:11)! Paul had always desired to visit the imperial city, to bear thither the message of the Cross; but he never expected to go under the safeguard of Roman soldiers and at Roman expense. “Deep in unfathomable mines of never-failing skill” God fulfills His purposes. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Acts 25:13-27 – Seeking Charges against His Prisoner
Mark the difference with which these two men regarded our Lord. To the one, He was the supreme object of his affection and his life; to the other, He was “one Jesus” (Acts 25:19). Notice also that Paul had made clear his belief that Jesus was alive. Evidently the risen Christ had been the burden of Paul’s preaching. Even Festus had come to understand that, although he would not accept it as true.
The Apostle’s audience on the morrow was the most dignified and influential that he had addressed up to this point. As the Lord told Ananias that Saul had been chosen to bear His name before Gentiles and kings and the Children of Israel, so it came to pass. See Acts 9:15. There is no doubt that Paul was lifted far above the thought or fear of man by the consciousness that the Lord was standing by to strengthen him, so that through him the gospel might be fully known. Let us view every circumstance in our experience as the lamp-stand on which to place the lamp of testimony. It is a good thing to ask, “How far will this promote my Lord’s business?” —Through the Bible Day by Day
Acts 25:19—One Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.
Festus talked lightly enough about Jesus. It was only a question in his mind of some Jewish superstition hardly worth debating. What did it matter to him or his imperial master whether Jesus were alive or dead? And was it not a fact that he was dead, crucified under Pontius Pilate? How little Festus realized the importance of that death, not to the Jews alone, but to himself! How little he understood that his own continued life was due to that death of which he spoke so lightly! Generations of luxury and years of self-indulgence had blunted his perception: as for all religious questions—they were mere superstition! And with respect to religious enthusiasm, as it appeared in Paul, he could find in his own history nothing that could account for or explain it.
Contrast with this sated worldling—a flatterer, an office-seeker, prepared to sell his soul for gold—the noble apostle whose character stands out in unsullied light. Though Christ had died, according to the Scriptures, he knew that He had risen, and was alive for evermore. His faith did not go back to the cross, but rose perpetually to the throne. He who was dead, was living for evermore; sharing His servant’s sorrows, and supplying hourly grace for his every need.
He affirmed that He was alive. On the abundant testimony of those who had spoken with Him after his resurrection; on the strength of his own vision when Jesus had laid an arrest on him hard by Damascus; because of the mighty works that emanated from his hand; because of the daily fellowship which brought him into the presence of his Lord, in spite of clanking chain and iron bar—he affirmed that Jesus was alive. —Our Daily Homily