Detained at Cæsarea in A.D. 60, and charged by the Jews with teaching an illegal religion, profaning the Jewish temple as well as offending Cæsar, Paul refused Emperor Festus’ request to be tried in Jerusalem, where he knew of a plot to kill him.
Instead, the apostle, a Roman requested a hearing with Cæsar, in Rome, a right extended to all Roman citizens.
“13 And after some days King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to greet Festus.” (Acts 25:13)
King Agrippa II was the son of King Herod Agrippa I, who died a horrible death at Cæsarea. Agrippa was accompanied by his sister, Bernice, a debauched woman who was among the fairest of the time. She would eventually be courted by Emperor Titus, but their relationship was opposed to such an extend, their marriage plans were cancelled.
Both Agrippa and his sister were at Cæsarea to congratulate Festus, the new Roman emperor over Judea.
“14 When they had been there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying: “There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix, 15 about whom the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, when I was in Jerusalem, asking for a judgment against him. 16 To them I answered, ‘It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.’ 17 Therefore when they had come together, without any delay, the next day I sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in. 18 When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed, 19 but had some questions against him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. 20 And because I was uncertain of such questions, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters. 21 But when Paul appealed to be reserved for the decision of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I could send him to Caesar.” (Acts 25:14-21)
Festus was unfamiliar with Jewish customs, and seeing how aggressively the Sanhedrin pursued Paul, the emperor sought the king’s advice since he was born a Jew.
felt a Jew would know how to handle the charges upon a Jewish prisoner brought on by his own people, as such, the emperor described in detail the nature of the case, the man charged, his accusers and more importantly, his own assessment of the innocence of his prisoner.
And, since he felt Paul was not deserving of death, the emperor held him until he could formulate a letter explaining the charges against his prisoner, before sending him on to Rome, where a superior court would conduct a hearing based on the charges communicated in Festus’ letter. It was Roman law to include such letters when transferring a prisoner from one authority to another.
“22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I also would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” he said, “you shall hear him.” 23 So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus’ command Paul was brought in. 24 And Festus said: “King Agrippa and all the men who are here present with us, you see this man about whom the whole assembly of the Jews petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying out that he was not fit to live any longer. 25 But when I found that he had committed nothing deserving of death, and that he himself had appealed to Augustus, I decided to send him. 26 I have nothing certain to write to my lord concerning him. Therefore I have brought him out before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the examination has taken place I may have something to write. 27 For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him.” (Acts 25:22-27)
The following day, Paul was brought before a dignified audience that consisted of a king, princess, lictors, Cæsarean leaders, and Roman men of arms. Then, Festus introduces the apostle as a prisoner charged by the Jews with offenses deserving of death.
In his introduction, since he found nothing deserving death, the emperor mentions he decided to send him to Rome, per Paul’s request. However, because he could not adequately formulate a letter to accompany the prisoner, he sought the wisdom of Agrippa to help with this task.
Unknowingly, Festus was about to contribute to one of Paul’s most notable speech. 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