Paul stands before Porcius Festus. The high priest makes false allegations. Paul appeals to Caesar. Then Paul stands before King Agrippa and Bernice.
VERSE 1. Festus therefore, having come into the province, after three days went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea.
Festus. This is Porcius Festus. He was the Roman procurator of Judea from about 59 to 62 AD.
VERSE 2. Then the high priest and the principal men of the Jews informed him against Paul, and they begged him,
VERSE 3. asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem; plotting to kill him on the way.
VERSE 4. However Festus answered that Paul should be kept in custody at Caesarea, and that he himself was about to depart shortly.
VERSE 5. “Let them therefore”, he said, “that are in power among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong in the man, let them accuse him.”
VERSE 6. When he had stayed among them more than ten days, he went down to Caesarea, and on the next day he sat on the judgment seat, and commanded Paul to be brought.
VERSE 7. When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing against him many and grievous charges which they could not prove,
charges which they could not prove. Their accusations against Paul were false. Fortunately, Paul’s trial was conducted by a secular court rather than a religious one.
In our day, secular courts are more just and impartial than ecclesiastical courts.
VERSE 8. while he said in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar, have I sinned at all.”
VERSE 9. But Festus, desiring to gain favor with the Jews, answered Paul and said, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem, and be judged by me there concerning these things?”
desiring to gain favor with the Jews. In those days, the Jewish people naturally disliked the Roman Empire.
In this verse, Festus is trying to curry favor with them. He would try Paul in Jerusalem. He would have the foregone conclusion that Paul is guilty. In essence, this offer is totally corrupt.
VERSE 10. But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you also know very well.
I ought to be tried. Paul recognizes the corruptness of the offer from Festus. Paul knew his rights, and didn’t hesitate to use them in his own defense.
VERSE 11. For if I have done wrong and have committed anything worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die; but if none of those things is true that they accuse me of, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar!”
I appeal to Caesar! Paul could get a more just trial from the secular courts in Rome than he could from the religious courts in Jerusalem.
Isn’t that strange? In our day, secular courts are more just and impartial than ecclesiastical courts.
VERSE 12. Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you shall go.”
VERSE 13. Now when some days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea, and greeted Festus.
VERSE 14. As he stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying, “There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix;
VERSE 15. about whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, asking for a sentence against him.
VERSE 16. I answered them that it is not the custom of the Romans to give up any man to destruction before the accused has met the accusers face to face and has had opportunity to make his defense concerning the matter laid against him.
VERSE 17. When therefore they had come together here, I didn’t delay, but on the next day sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought.
VERSE 18. When the accusers stood up, they brought no charges against him of such things as I supposed;
VERSE 19. but had certain questions against him about their own religion, and about one Jesus, who was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.
VERSE 20. Being perplexed how to inquire concerning these things, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters.
VERSE 21. But when Paul had appealed to be kept for the decision of the emperor, I commanded him to be kept until I could send him to Caesar.”
VERSE 22. Agrippa said to Festus, “I also would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” he said, “you shall hear him.”
VERSE 23. So on the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and they had entered into the place of hearing with the commanding officers and the principal men of the city, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in.
VERSE 24. Festus said, “King Agrippa, and all men who are here present with us, you see this man about whom all the multitude of the Jews petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying that he ought not to live any longer.
VERSE 25. But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and as he himself appealed to the emperor I determined to send him,
he had committed nothing worthy of death. In his letter to the Emperor, even the corrupt Porcius Festus could not accuse Paul falsely.
Some people naively think that kings and other rulers are directed by the LORD God:
Proverbs 21:1. The king’s heart is in the LORD’s hand like the watercourses. He turns it wherever he desires.
VERSE 26. of whom I have no certain thing to write to my lord. Therefore I have brought him out before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, that, after examination, I may have something to write.
VERSE 27. For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to also specify the charges against him.”
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.