At Cæsarea in A.D. 60, Porcius Festus succeeded Antonius Felix who was forced off his position as the designated Roman leader over Judea. To tame the Jews, who were among his accusers, Felix turned Paul over to the new Roman governor.
“1 Now when Festus had come to the province, after three days he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem.” (Acts 25:1)
Festus took office at Cæsarea, the seaport city located along the Mediterranean Sea, and capital of the Roman province of Judea. After he had been there three days, the Roman governor journeyed to Jerusalem, the Jewish capital where he would be approached by Jewish leaders concerning Paul.
“2 Then the high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul; and they petitioned him, 3 asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem—while they lay in ambush along the road to kill him.” (Acts 25:2-3)
Paul’s accusers continued with their plan to kill him by requesting the prisoner be transferred back to Jerusalem. Two years earlier, they had plotted to ambush the apostle, but their plan failed as Claudius Lysias, the chief captain ordered two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to escort Paul to Cæsarea where he would stand trial before Felix.
“4 But Festus answered that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself was going there shortly. 5 “Therefore,” he said, “let those who have authority among you go down with me and accuse this man, to see if there is any fault in him.” (Acts 25:4-5)
Even though the Jews pressed Festus to release Paul to them, the emperor maintained his position that would see his prisoner tried at Cæsarea. As such, Festus called upon the leaders among Paul’s accusers to travel back with him to the Roman capital where the case against the apostle would be heard.
“6 And when he had remained among them more than ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day, sitting on the judgment seat, he commanded Paul to be brought. 7 When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood about and laid many serious complaints against Paul, which they could not prove, 8 while he answered for himself, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.” (Acts 25:6-8)
After spending 10 days in Jerusalem, Festus returned to Cæsarea accompanied by a Jewish envoy. The next day, Paul’s trial resumed and the Jews presented their case, and placed their accusations against the prisoner. The charges included teaching an illegal religion, profaning the temple as well as offending Cæsar. In his own defense, the apostle claimed he had not violated any law, neither Roman nor Jewish.
“9 But Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and there be judged before me concerning these things?” 10 So Paul said, “I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know.” (Acts 25:9-10)
Since he was relatively new in the area, and sought to gain the favor of the Jews, Festus proposed to Paul that he should be tried in Jerusalem since the charges stemmed from the Jews, rather than Romans. Because he was aware of the plot to kill him, and since he was a Roman citizen with every right to do so, the apostle turned down the trial in Jerusalem instead requested to be tried in Rome, before Cæsar.
“11 For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.” (Acts 25:11)
Roman law allowed for those accused of a crime to stand before Cæsar, or at the very least, to be tried by the imperial tribunal in Rome. This privilege was extended to all Roman citizens throughout the provinces or the great empire so to prevent unjust rulings by dishonest governors. Since he was indeed a Roman citizen, Paul leveraged his right to be tried in Rome rather than in Jerusalem, where he knew murder or unjust death awaited.
“12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, “You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!” (Acts 25:12)
After he consulted with his advisors, Festus rendered his decision to have Paul sent to Rome where the accused would be tried by Cæsar himself, or the Roman imperial tribunal. But, before he would sail to Rome, Paul would be given the chance to preach the gospel once more at Cæsarea, notably to King Agrippa. Let’s pray!
We thank you for your blessings in our lives and for your servant Luke,
We praise you Lord for his wisdom and for his works through this scripture,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use these verses in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of your faithful apostle.
Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through battles,
Allow us to praise and love each other through faith in you Jesus,
Shield us from evil through truth, the gospel, salvation and prayer,
Guide us to abide by your word as we spread your gospel to one and all
Becoming examples of faith through our character as we walk the narrow path.
God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your word, your everlasting wisdom and strength.
May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.
We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre