May 06, 2020 – Wednesday
Acts 25:1-5 NIV
1 Three days after arriving in the province, Festus went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem,
2 where the chief priests and the Jewish leaders appeared before him and presented the charges against Paul.
3 They requested Festus, as a favor to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way.
4 Festus answered, “Paul is being held at Caesarea, and I myself am going there soon.
5 Let some of your leaders come with me, and if the man has done anything wrong, they can press charges against him there.”
So the new governor, Festus, is not willing to simply give Paul over to those who want him dead, but is willing to have them present their case against Paul once again in Caesarea. Back in Caesarea, nine or eleven days later the chief priest and Jewish leaders brought numerous strong charges against him, but once again they could not prove them.
Festus wanting to stay on the good side of the Jewish leaders asked Paul to stand trial in Jerusalem. Paul refused saying no charges had been proven against him and they had not. At the end to prevent this he made an appeal to Caesar. This would be like appealing to the United States Supreme Court (USSC). 12 After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!” This is amazing in and of itself as Caesar, like our USSC, does not hear very many cases that seek to be heard.
In fact, it was so unusual to send someone before Caesar, Festus did not know really what to do with Paul. Then King Agrippa arrived who, when told of the case, wanted to hear from Paul himself. Festus agreed, hoping the King could help him draw up charges against Paul before sending him off to Rome. Then in the next chapter Paul speaks and makes his defense once again, now before King Agrippa. He asked 8 Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead? before telling his own story of persecuting followers of Jesus of Nazareth and of his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.
It was at this point Paul described what his conversion had led him to do: 19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”
Festus could not let this stand and interrupted shouting 24 You are out of your mind, Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane. Whereupon Paul replied to Festus and King Agrippa 25 I am not insane, most excellent Festus. What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.
After more back and forth 32 Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.” We are not told what if any input King Agrippa gave Festus as he prepared to send Paul to Rome as a prisoner. Paul went on a ship with other prisoners, but there was a shipwreck on the way where miraculously everyone survived as Paul had foretold after a visit from an angel of God who said he must stand trial before Caesar. Even though still a prisoner, on the island on which they were shipwrecked Paul performed a number of miracles there.
In chapter twenty-eight we discover they were on the island for three months before setting sail once again for Rome – with Paul still a prisoner. Tomorrow we will look at what happens when Paul finally arrives in Rome.
Riley D. Driver-Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton