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Paul Before Festus and Agrippa (Acts 25,26)

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Acts 25

Paul appeals to Caesar
Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went to Jerusalem from Caesarea. 2 And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews presented the charges against Paul; and they petitioned him, 3 asking a favour against Paul, that he would summon him to Jerusalem; for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way. 4 However Festus answered that Paul should be kept in custody at Caesarea, and that he intended to go there soon. 5 Therefore, said he, let those that have authority among you come with me, and if there is anything amiss in the man, let them accuse him.
   6 And when he had stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went to Caesarea; and the next day he sat on the judgment seat and commanded Paul to be brought. 7 And when he had arrived, the Jews that had come from Jerusalem stood round him, bringing against him many and grievous charges which they could not prove; 8 while Paul said in his defence: Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar, have I sinned at all. 9 But Festus, desiring to gain favour with the Jews, answered Paul and said: Will you go up to Jerusalem and there be judged of these things before me? 10 But Paul said: I am standing before Caesar's judgment seat, where I should be judged. To the Jews have I done no wrong, as you also very well know. 11 If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not object to dying, but if none of these things are true of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar. 12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered: You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar shall you go.
   13 Now when some days had passed, Agrippa the King and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and greeted Festus. 14 And as they stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul's case before the King, saying: There is a certain man left as a prisoner by Felix, 15 about whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, asking for sentence against him. 16 To whom I answered that it is not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone, before the accused has the accusers face to face, and has had opportunity to make his defence concerning the matter charged against him. 17 Therefore, when they gathered here, I did not delay, and the next day sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought; 18 concerning whom, when the accusers stood up, they brought no charge of such evil things as I supposed. 19 Rather they had certain questions against him of their own religion and of one Jesus, who was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. 20 And I, being perplexed how to inquire concerning these things, asked whether he would go to Jerusalem and there be judged of these matters. 21 But when Paul had appealed to be kept for the decision of the emperor, I commanded him to be kept until I should send him to Caesar. 22 And Agrippa said to Festus: I also would like to hear the man myself. Tomorrow, said he, you shall hear him.
   23 So the next day, when Agrippa had arrived and Bernice, with great pomp, they entered into the place of hearing with the chief captains and principal men of the city; and at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24 And Festus said: King Agrippa and all men who are here present with us, you see this man, about whom all the crowd of the Jews made appeal to me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying that he should not live any longer. 25 But I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death; and as he appealed to the emperor, I decided to send him. 26 But I have nothing certain to write to my lord concerning him. Therefore, I have brought him before you all, 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, without specifying the charges against him.


25:11 Why did Paul appeal to Caesar? Maybe it was simply because he so wanted to go to Rome in order to spread Christianity at the very heart of the Roman empire. Maybe he was spiritually ambitious enough to think that he might be able to testify the Gospel to Caesar himself- and even convert him? After all, Paul prayed that King Agrippa would become a Christian (26:29).

25:26,27 Being sent to the highest level of judgment seat in Rome, yet with no valid charges against him- was bizarre. Paul alludes to this when he wrote to the ecclesia in Rome (who surely knew the situation with Paul’s case) that in Christ, there is now nobody to condemn us (Rom. 8:34). His letter from Rome to the Colossians has a similar message (Col. 1:22): " present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable (Gk. 'free from accusation') in his sight". This freedom from accusation explains why none of our bad deeds will be mentioned to us then. One wonders if Paul's hearing in Acts 25 is described as it is in order to help us imagine this; he has no accusers, and therefore can be acquitted. We are in that same situation. We have been forgiven; there is no case against us before the judgment seat of Christ.