Acts 25:1-5 Festus, the governor of Caesarea, arrived in Jerusalem. The chief priests and leading Jews begged Festus to bring Paul back to Jerusalem for trial, hoping to ambush Paul on the way. Festus said, “No,” but instead told the Jews to come to Caesarea instead to lay their charges against Paul.
Notes: Caesarea was the proper place for Paul, a Roman citizen, to be tried.
Acts 25:6-12 More than a week later, Festus arrived in Caesarea, took his seat on the Tribunal, and ordered Paul be brought before him. The Jews arrived from Jerusalem and laid their charges against Paul, but could not prove them. Paul defended himself and said he broke no Jewish law, did nothing against the Temple, nor broke any Roman law. Festus wanted to do the Jews a favor, so he tried convincing Paul to go to Jerusalem for trial. Paul refused and said he instead appealed to Caesar for trial. After conferring with his council about the matter, Festus agreed to send Paul to Caesar.
Notes: Paul declared his right as a Roman citizen to have a trial in Rome.
Acts 25:13-22 Days later, King Herod Agrippa and Bernice, Herod’s sister, arrived at Caesarea to greet Festus as the new governor. Festus told Agrippa about Paul’s case and how the Jews wanted him dead. Festus described Paul’s trial while in court at Caesarea and how he judged that Paul did nothing worthy of death. Festus said there were disputes about their own religion and about Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul claims was alive again. He told Agrippa how he tried to convince Paul to return to Jerusalem for trial, but instead Paul wanted to go to Rome and be tried before Caesar. Agrippa said he wanted to hear Paul speak.
Notes: Agrippa. Herod Agrippa II, son of the Herod who killed James and imprisoned Peter. He was the last of the Herods, who play a prominent role in NT history. His great-uncle, Herod Antipas, was the Herod of the Gospels, while his great-grandfather, Herod the Great, ruled at the time Jesus was born. King Herod Agrippa and Bernice’s sister, Drusilla, was married to the former governor, Felix.
Acts 25:23-27 The next day, Agrippa and Bernice entered the audience hall with a great display of ceremony. All the leading men of the city were there also. Festus commanded Paul be brought to the hall. Festus told everyone about Paul’s case and how the Jews wanted him condemned to death. Festus told them he found no fault in Paul, that Paul appealed to Caesar, and that he had no idea what to write to Caesar concerning Paul. Festus hoped that Agrippa’s and the leading men of the city’s examination of Paul would give him something substantial to write down that would explain clearly the exact charges levied against Paul by the chief priests and the leading Jews of Jerusalem.
Notes: For a provincial governor to send a prisoner to the emperor with no clear charges against him was foolish, if not dangerous. Festus hoped Herod’s expertise in Jewish affairs would enable him to make sense of the charges against Paul.