For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough 

25:1.  “Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.”

25:2.  “Then the high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him,”

25:3.  “And desired favor against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.”

As Felix’ tenure came to an end, so do all earthly things, including life itself.  He is a fool who lives simply for these transient things.

Time hadn’t diminished the Jews’ hatred of Paul (in reality, their hatred of Christ); they were as determined as ever to kill him.  Nor had the passage of two years led them to see the incongruity between their religious profession, and their murderous plot.  There are no eyes as blind as those veiled by spiritual darkness.

25:4.  “But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither.”

Festus was apparently aware of the plot that had made it necessary for Lysias to send Paul to Caesarea in the first instance, and he was also determined not to hand Paul over to the Jews.

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 in him.”

Festus would have them prove the truth of their allegations.

25:6.  “And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day commanded Paul to be brought.”

The correct rendering appears to be “among them not more than ten days,” but that is of little importance.  Something of the importance of Paul’s case may be gathered from the fact that one of Festus’ first official acts was to begin the trial so long delayed.  How different it will be in eternity when the roles are reversed, and those who sat in judgment upon the Lord and His servants will themselves stand before Him for judgment at the great white throne!

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.”

In spite of their many charges, they couldn’t produce proof to support one of them.  It will be very different when they stand at the great white throne.  The opened books will furnish proof of every wrong thought, word, and deed, and the book of life will show that they refused to have all those sins blotted out by trusting in Christ as Savior.

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.”

25:9.  “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?”

The Amplified rendering of this is “and there be put on trial [before the Jewish Sanhedrin] in my presence concerning these charges,” and this seems to be correct: otherwise why go up to Jerusalem to do in a Roman court what could be done there in Caesarea?  This of course would have been tantamount to handing Paul over to the mercy of the Jews, for Festus would have had no authority over the decisions of the Sanhedrin.  It would have been with Paul as it had been with his Master, for the decision of the Sanhedrin regarding Him was, “By our law he ought to die.”

25:10.  “Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: as thou very well knowest.”

The terrible spiritual state of Israel is nowhere more dramatically revealed than here.  Paul was assured of a fairer trial before the ungodly Romans than at the hands of those who professed to be the people of God.

Paul’s courage is also revealed.  He didn’t hesitate to upbraid this conniving Roman official.  With Paul, the Word of God was no mere Shibboleth.  He lived in the confident assurance given to every believer, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me,” He 13:6.

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.”

In view of God’s word to him in 23:11, “... as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome,” there can be no doubt that Paul was acting and speaking with the assurance of one in the center of God’s will.  He who would have similar peace and courage must abide in the same place.

25:12.  “Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.” 

His exasperation betrays itself in this statement, for he was now in a very difficult situation.  The first question likely to be raised by Caesar would be, “Why am I being bothered with a case that should have been settled in Caesarea?”  Festus was unlikely to emerge with anything to his credit, but rather to appear as weak and vacillating.  (The council was his own advisory council, not that of the Jews).

25:13.  “And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.”

This brother and sister were an unsavory couple, added to whose general notoriety was that of their apparently well known incestuous relationship.  Their arrival, however, must have seemed like a stroke of fortune to Festus, for if Agrippa failed to resolve the matter, at least there would now be another who could also be charged with incompetence.

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:”

The conniving Festus attempted to make it appear that Felix was to blame, a ploy too transparent to deceive any but the most naive.

25:15.  “About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.”

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.”

The death of the Lord Jesus Christ of course is the refutation of this claim concerning Roman justice.

25:17.  “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.”

Festus naturally was anxious to present himself in the best possible light.

25:18.  “Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed:”

25:19.  “But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.”

As noted already, the resurrection of Christ was itself the condemnation of what the Jews had done.  The tragedy is that they could have had forgiveness had they been willing to acknowledge their sin and trust in Him as their Savior and Messiah.  But they would not.

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.”

He was very careful to present himself as the efficient impartial representative of Rome, instead of the coward he really was.

25:21.  “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.”

Festus was careful to omit the fact that Paul’s appeal had come only after he (Festus) had wanted to hand him over to the Jews, i.e., to certain death.

25:22.  “Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself.  To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.”

God’s assurance to Paul that he would testify in Rome had wider implications than even Paul may have imagined, for even before he reached Rome, Agrippa would be at least the third high Roman official to hear the gospel from the lips of the Apostle.

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.”

It will be a very different scene at the great white throne, when they, stripped of all earthly glory, each reduced to the same guilty level as his fellows, will be arraigned before the only impartial Judge, the Lord Whose servant they here presumed to judge.

25:24.  “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.”

Festus might have added also that but for his and Felix’ pandering to the Jews, Paul should have been set at liberty long ago.

25:25.  “But when I found that the had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus,”

25:26.  “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.”

As noted already, it was his own pandering to the Jews that had brought him into this dilemma.

25:27.  “For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.”

What was even more unreasonable was that an innocent man should have been held prisoner for more than two years simply to accommodate the conniving of crooked cowardly officials, and the blood lust of a wolf pack of religious hypocrites.

[Acts 26]



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough