2586.) Acts 25

Paul knows he is not guilty. The judges see he is not guilty. Then why doesn’t he go free?

Acts 25 (NLT)

Paul Appears before Festus

1 Three days after Festus arrived in Caesarea to take over his new responsibilities, he left for Jerusalem, 2 where the leading priests and other Jewish leaders met with him and made their accusations against Paul. 3 They asked Festus as a favor to transfer Paul to Jerusalem (planning to ambush and kill him on the way).

These were religious men, religious leaders. Their actions show the danger of religion that is not in true contact with God. If your religion makes you a liar and a murderer, there is something wrong with your religion.

–David Guzik

“We see a growth of corruption. In Acts 23, where the plot to murder Paul was first launched, we find that it was the zealots who were responsible. Now, in Acts 25, we find that the leaders are initiating the very thing they were only tangentially involved in earlier.”

–James Montgomery Boice

4 But Festus replied that Paul was at Caesarea and he himself would be returning there soon. 5 So he said, “Those of you in authority can return with me. If Paul has done anything wrong, you can make your accusations.”

Try this perspective on Paul’s imprisonment:   These past two years were a sabbatical, of sorts, for Paul, after his years of exhausting missionary journeys. He was also safe there from the Jewish leaders and their murderous plans.

6 About eight or ten days later Festus returned to Caesarea, and on the following day he took his seat in court and ordered that Paul be brought in. 7 When Paul arrived, the Jewish leaders from Jerusalem gathered around and made many serious accusations they couldn’t prove.

8 Paul denied the charges. “I am not guilty of any crime against the Jewish laws or the Temple or the Roman government,” he said.

9 Then Festus, wanting to please the Jews, asked him, “Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there?”

10 But Paul replied, “No! This is the official Roman court, so I ought to be tried right here. You know very well I am not guilty of harming the Jews. 11 If I have done something worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die. But if I am innocent, no one has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me. I appeal to Caesar!”

Paul’s appeal made sense. He was convinced that the evidence was on his side and that he could win in a fair trial. He also had reason to wonder if his current judge (Festus) was sympathetic to his accusers, the religious leaders among the Jews.

It was the right of every Roman citizen to have his case heard by Caesar himself, after initial trials and appeals had failed to reach a satisfactory decision. This was in effect an appeal to the “supreme court” of the empire.
—David Guzik

12 Festus conferred with his advisers and then replied, “Very well! You have appealed to Caesar, and to Caesar you will go!”

—or did Paul just want a Caesar salad?

13 A few days later King Agrippa arrived with his sister, Bernice, to pay their respects to Festus.

Let’s look at these new characters!

Herod Agrippa II ruled a client kingdom of the Roman Empire to the northeast of Festus’ province. He didn’t rule over much territory, but he was of great influence because the emperor gave him the right to oversee the affairs of the temple in Jerusalem and the appointment of the high priest. Agrippa was known as an expert in Jewish customs and religious matters. Though he did not have jurisdiction over Paul in this case, his hearing of the matter would be helpful for Festus.

Of this King Agrippa — his great-grandfather had tried to kill Jesus as a baby; his grandfather had John the Baptist beheaded; his father had martyred the first apostle, James. Now Paul stood before the next in line of the Herods, Herod Agrippa.

Bernice was Agrippa’s sister. Secular history records rumors that their relationship was incestuous.

14 During their stay of several days, Festus discussed Paul’s case with the king. “There is a prisoner here,” he told him, “whose case was left for me by Felix. 15 When I was in Jerusalem, the leading priests and Jewish elders pressed charges against him and asked me to condemn him. 16 I pointed out to them that Roman law does not convict people without a trial. They must be given an opportunity to confront their accusers and defend themselves.

17 “When his accusers came here for the trial, I didn’t delay. I called the case the very next day and ordered Paul brought in. 18 But the accusations made against him weren’t any of the crimes I expected. 19 Instead, it was something about their religion and a dead man named Jesus, who Paul insists is alive. 20 I was at a loss to know how to investigate these things, so I asked him whether he would be willing to stand trial on these charges in Jerusalem. 21 But Paul appealed to have his case decided by the emperor. So I ordered that he be held in custody until I could arrange to send him to Caesar.”

—or perhaps a slice of Little Caesar’s pizza?

22 “I’d like to hear the man myself,” Agrippa said.

And Festus replied, “You will—tomorrow!”

Agrippa will hold a hearing, as a favor to Festus, and not a trial; the king has no jurisdiction over Paul.

Paul Speaks to Agrippa

23 So the next day Agrippa and Bernice arrived at the auditorium with great pomp, accompanied by military officers and prominent men of the city. Festus ordered that Paul be brought in. 24 Then Festus said, “King Agrippa and all who are here, this is the man whose death is demanded by all the Jews, both here and in Jerusalem. 25 But in my opinion he has done nothing deserving death. However, since he appealed his case to the emperor, I have decided to send him to Rome.

26 “But what shall I write the emperor? For there is no clear charge against him. So I have brought him before all of you, and especially you, King Agrippa, so that after we examine him, I might have something to write. 27 For it makes no sense to send a prisoner to the emperor without specifying the charges against him!”

Festus clearly understood that Paul was innocent. What wasn’t so clear to him was a reasonable charge against Paul.



It would be easy, in the midst of long months of imprisonment and numerous death threats, for Paul to become discouraged and wonder if God had forgotten to take care of him. Frankly, I would guess that it would take much less than that to discourage most of us! But Paul had confidence in the Lord whom he had met on the road to Damascus, and he had given the Lord full freedom to own him and lead him wherever God wanted. Twila Paris’ song, “Not My Own,”  HERE,  encourages me to think more like Paul.

I am not my own
I am bought with a price
I am not my own, not my own

I am not my own
I cannot hold to pride
I am not my own, not my own

Take this false desire
Burn it in Your righteous fire
I am not my own, not my own

This is not my home
This is not Paradise
This is not my home, not my home

This is not my home
I have been far and wide
This is not my home, not my home

Make this longing true
Turn my wistful heart to you
This is not my home, not my home

When I turn to find Your eyes
O Lord, O Lord
I begin to realize
Once more, once more

I am not my own
I am bought with a price
I am not my own, not my own
Take this false desire
Burn it in Your righteous fire
I am not my own, not my own
I am not my own, not my own


Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Not guilty.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/not_guilty.jpeg
Caron.    http://www.keyway.ca/jpg/festus.jpg
salad.   https://fthmb.tqn.com/PK-gzCMO2_chv0BfVqmzfBtou3M=/2500×1656/filters:fill(auto,1)/caesar-salad-2500-56a210635f9b58b7d0c62d64.jpg
pizza.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2019/04/48994-littlecaesars.jpg

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