Paul’s enemies again try for an order bringing Paul to Jerusalem, that they might ambush and kill him on the way.
Acts 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 of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him, 25:3 And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.
The new governor Festus announces that he will hold the inquiry at Caesarea and invites his accusers there.
25:4 But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither. 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.
The inquiry at Caesarea
25:6 And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought.
Various unproven accusations are made. Remember this was two years after the incidents at Jerusalem and yet they could find no solid accusation against Paul.
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.
Paul gives his answer before the governor
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.
Paul knowing that Christ had commissioned him to go to Rome and being a Roman citizen appeals to Caesar for judgment: Thus opening up the opportunity to preach the Gospel of warning, repentance and salvation through Jesus Christ in Rome and even to the Emperor’s household.
Dating the Pauline House Arrest in Rome
Priscilla and Aquila were Jews of Rome who went to Corinth when the Emperor Claudius ordered all Jews expelled from Rome.
Acts 18:2-3: There he [Paul] met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla [because of the Claudian expulsion of the Jews from Rome], because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome.
The Roman historian Suetonius states that Emperor Claudius expelled all the Jews from Rome in 49 AD because of the interminable strife and rioting between the Jews.
Since Paul found many Jews at Rome; it is clear that he went there after 54 AD, when Claudius died and the expulsion of the Jews from Rome was lifted. The most widely accepted dates for Paul’s house arrest in Rome are 61-63 AD.
Acts 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? 25:10 Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. 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.
Paul is sent to Caesar at Rome, but first witnesses to king Agrippa and Bernice
25:12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.
25:13 And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.
Festus introduces Paul’s case to the king
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: 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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
The king requests to hear Paul
25:22 Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.
Agrippa hears the Gospel from Paul
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.
Festus officially introduces the case to the king
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. 25:25 But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him.
Festus asks Agrippa for help to write the indictment against Paul to Caesar for he knows Paul to be innocent
25:26 Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord [Caesar] 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. 25:27 For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.
Paul gives his defense relating his personal history and proclaiming the Gospel of Warning, Repentance and the Resurrection to Salvation through Jesus Christ
26:1 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
26:2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: 26:3 Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.
26:4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; 26:5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. 26:6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God, unto our fathers: 26:7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. 26:8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?
26:9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 26:10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. 26:11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
26:12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 26:13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. 26:14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 26:15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
26:16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; 26:17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
26:19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
26:21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. 26:22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: 26:23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
Festus declares Paul mad, but King Agrippa understood the witness of Paul
26:24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. 26:25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
The king believes but does not repent
26:26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. 26:27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
26:28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. 26:29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.
Paul is judged innocent of breaking any law. Yet they chose to send him to Caesar to get rid of him, because of the Jews anger and uproar. For surely Paul could have withdrawn his appeal if the charges were withdrawn. This came about so that the words of Christ to Paul, that he must witness at Rome, would be fulfilled.
26:30 And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: 26:31 And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.
26:32 Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.