|Acts Chapter 25|
Translation by William E. Paul
by Charles Dailey
(Black underlined words match words in the Bible text.)
|1) Three days after Festus came to the province he went from Caesarea up to Jerusalem.||– Festus was getting acquainted with the nations under his supervision on their own turf. So he visited Jerusalem.|
|2) The leading priests and the leading Jewish men [there] informed Festus of the charges against Paul. Then they begged him|| – The leading priests may have been the heads of the 24 courses of priests. 1 Chronicles 24:1-31.|
- This is long-term hatred. More than two years had passed.
|3) to do them a favor by having Paul brought [from Caesarea] to Jerusalem, for they were plotting to kill him on the way.|| – The leaders brought the charges again. Paul had stood trial once for these same complaints. |
- They are not requesting justice, but a favor.
- This plot was more "official" than the previous, failed plot.
|4) Festus answered that [since] Paul was being held in custody in Caesarea, and [since] he himself was soon going there [i.e., he could see Paul at Caesarea at that time].||– Festus did not fall for the assassination ruse. - The Jews were willing to risk the penalties of overpowering the Roman guards who would have accompanied Paul to Jerusalem. They were desperate to kill Paul.|
|5) So, he said, "Let your leaders go down with me and if there is anything [found] wrong with the man, let them bring their charges against him [at that time]."|| – Paul is to be charged again without warning, without an attorney and still without witnesses. |
- The Jewish leaders did not use an attorney for this presentation as they had before Felix.
|6) After staying not more than eight or ten [more] days [there in Jerusalem], Festus went down to Caesarea and the following day he ordered Paul to appear before him as he sat in his court of justice.|| – Luke did not know the precise number of days, showing that he was not present. He was based in Caesarea during these two years. |
- Festus heard the case the next day, partly because of the Jewish leaders who had come to Caesarea to press charges.
|7) When Paul appeared, the [Jewish] leaders who had accompanied Festus down from Jerusalem gathered around him and brought many serious charges against him, which they were not able to prove.||– Luke says the charges were unfounded.|
|8) Paul replied in his defense, "I have not committed any sin against the law of the Jews, nor against the Temple, nor against Caesar."||– Paul should have been released at this time. He should have been released when Felix did not find him guilty in the previous chapter.|
|9) But Festus, wanting to gain favor with the Jews [See 24:27], answered Paul, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there?"|| – Festus was a politician at heart. He wanted to please those he ruled. |
- Paul knew of the previous attempt on his life by the Jews.
|10) Paul replied, "I am [already] standing before a court of Caesar's authority, where I deserve to be tried. I have done nothing wrong to the Jews, as you very well know.|| – Perhaps Paul reasoned that if Festus would make a concession to have a second trial, he might make further concessions to please Paul's enemies. He exercised his right to stand before a Roman court. |
- as you know very well shows Festus had prior knowledge of the case.
|11) If then I am a criminal and have committed any crime that deserves the death penalty, I will not try to avoid being put to death. But if none of the charges I have been accused of are true, [then] no one has the right to turn me over [to the authorities]. I make my appeal to Caesar."|| – Paul agreed the death penalty is acceptable, but he was not guilty of any crimes. |
- He would not be used as a present from Festus to the Jewish Sanhedrin where a fair trial was impossible.
- Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen. He requested to have his case tried before Caesar, ruler of the Empire in Rome.
|12) After conferring with his advisors, Festus answered Paul, "[Since] you have appealed to Caesar, then you will go to Caesar."|| – The appeal removed the case from Festus' jurisdiction. |
- Nero was the current Caesar. Donald Nash says that his first five years in office were the golden age of prosperity in the Empire. His evil came later.
|13) After a number of days King Agrippa [Note: This man was the great grandson of Herod the Great. See Matt. 2:1] and [his wife] Bernice arrived at Caesarea and came to greet Festus.|| – Agrippa ruled next-door in Galilee and Perea. |
- He would be the last of the Herod dynasty to rule and the last person to wear the title of king.
- His "wife" was his sister Bernice who later was also consort to Vespasian and Titus. This was a publicly known case of incest.
|14) While they stayed there [with him] for many days, Festus discussed Paul's case with the king, saying, "There is this man [named Paul] who was left in custody by Felix.|| – The longer stay allowed many things to be discussed, including Paul's case.|
- Felix was his predecessor as Roman governor.
|15) When I was at Jerusalem, the leading priests and the Jewish elders presented his case before me to make a judgment against him.||– The leaders did not request a fair trial.|
|16) I answered them that it is not the custom of the Romans to turn over any person [for sentencing] before he is faced by his accusers and has had the opportunity to defend himself against the charges made against him.||– The leading priests and the Jewish elders had requested the death penalty for Paul without further trial. They made no pretense of fairness or justice for God's man.|
|17) When therefore his accusers had assembled here I did not delay [in dealing with the matter; in fact] the very next day I sat in court and summoned the man to be brought [before me].||– Felix had delayed the case for two years hoping for a bribe while Festus moved on the case the next day. This may have been a reference by Festus to the shabby administration of Felix.|
|18) When his accusers stood up, they brought no charge of wrongdoing as I had expected [they would].||– Festus had expected to hear of a crime against Roman law, but the charges were not about persons or property.|
|19) All they had was a controversy with him over their own religion and about someone named Jesus, who had died [but] whom Paul alleges is [now] alive.|| – He had found a religious dispute, not a crime. |
- This Roman procurator could not understand how people would be willing to kill over a belief in the resurrection of Jesus. Religion must seem strange to the non-religious.
|20) And I was perplexed as to how to proceed with the investigation, so I [finally] asked him if he would go to Jerusalem to have his case judged there.||– Since Paul was a long-term prisoner of the Roman government and a Roman citizen, Festus needed to take action. Paul had refused to have his case moved back to Jerusalem.|
|21) But when Paul requested that his case be reviewed for a decision by Caesar, I ordered him to remain in custody until I could send him to Caesar."|| – Paul had seen in Festus a weakness in catering to Jewish interests even though Festus understood that he was not guilty. |
- The implication is that Festus would have released Paul, but would he? And would Paul be safe if he did?
|22) Agrippa said to Festus, "I had been wanting to hear this man's testimony myself." [Festus replied], "Tomorrow you will [have the opportunity to] hear him."|| – Herod Agrippa II had long known of Jesus and His claims. It was his father who had pleased the Jews by killing the Apostle James and was planning to kill Peter. Acts 12.|
- Paul had his own reputation as a follower of Jesus. Agrippa had been wanting to hear him.
|23) So, the next day, when Agrippa and [his wife] Bernice, arrived in an elaborate procession, they entered the hearing chamber, along with the commanders and leading men of the city.|| – Luke writes as an eye-witness. He saw the court in "full dress." |
- This was a formal community affair. Local leaders were also present, both Jews and Gentiles. The military chiefs were there, too. What an opportunity the Lord was preparing for His man Paul.
|24) Then Festus spoke, "King Agrippa, and all you gentlemen assembled with us, you see this man whose case a large number of Jews, [first] at Jerusalem and [then] here [in Caesarea] have petitioned me [to resolve]. They have been clamoring for him to be put to death,|| – We learn that Jews from Caesarea also were involved in the clamor for Paul's death. |
- Festus addresses all who assembled with this puzzlement.
- clamoring - this looks like a criticism toward the unreasonable demands of the Jews
|25) but I found that he had committed nothing which deserved the death [penalty]. And since he himself appealed [his case] to the Emperor, I decided to send him [to Rome].|| – Festus had found Paul innocent of any charges. |
- Festus had to send Paul to Rome. The Lord was again moving his man Paul toward the very top ruler in the Roman Empire.
|26) But I do not have anything specific to write to His Majesty. This is the reason I have brought him before this assembly, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after you have questioned him, I would [then] have something [substantial] to write.|| – Written charges need to accompany Paul to Rome. Festus could not describe the crime. |
- This was essentially a fact-finding session, but it gave Paul another chance to preach to kings. Acts 9:15.
- As it turned out, Paul questioned Agrippa rather than Agrippa questioning Paul.
|27) For it does not seem reasonable for me to send a prisoner [to Rome] without indicating what the [formal] charges are against him."||– The letter would represent the investigation of other high-level officials and would not leave Festus looking incapable.|
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