Acts 25:21

ESV But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of the emperor, I ordered him to be held until I could send him to Caesar.”
NIV But when Paul made his appeal to be held over for the Emperor's decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.'
NASB But when Paul appealed to be held in custody for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered that he be kept in custody until I send him to Caesar.'
CSB But when Paul appealed to be held for trial by the Emperor, I ordered him to be kept in custody until I could send him to Caesar."
NLT But Paul appealed to have his case decided by the emperor. So I ordered that he be held in custody until I could arrange to send him to Caesar.'
KJV 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.

What does Acts 25:21 mean?

When Festus took over as governor, the Sanhedrin asked him to hold a new trial for Paul in Jerusalem (Acts 25:1–3). The Jewish leaders had presented their charges before the previous governor, Felix, two years before. Felix had refused to give a verdict, instead holding Paul under house arrest until the governor was relieved two years later (Acts 24). The Sanhedrin at least wants Festus to convict Paul of a crime against Roman law. Even better is if Festus would bring Paul out in the open so they can kill him (Acts 25:3).

Because Paul is a Roman citizen and cannot be forced to have his trial in Jerusalem, Festus held a hearing in Caesarea. He quickly realized why Felix had refused to render a decision: Paul hadn't done anything wrong. At the same time, it's not wise to antagonize the spiritual and cultural leaders of a people who really don't want the Romans in their space and will revolt at the drop of a hat. Festus asked Paul if he would allow the trial to take place in Jerusalem. Paul promptly accused Festus of not doing his job and appealed his case to Caesar (Acts 25:5–12).

It is a few days after this trial. Festus is speaking with King Agrippa II and his sister Bernice. He must send Paul to a higher court—Roman law demands it. But he has nothing with which to charge Paul (Acts 25:26). Agrippa's family is from the area—his grandfather is Herod the Great—and he's an expert in the Jewish law and culture (Acts 26:3). Festus hopes Agrippa can identify what offense Paul has committed.

Agrippa agrees to hear Paul's testimony (Acts 25:22). Instead of giving a testimony of his innocence, Paul tells the story of how he met Jesus. Festus, who knows next to nothing about Judaism or Christianity, responds, "Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind" (Acts 26:24). Agrippa, however, seems almost ready to accept Christ for himself (Acts 26:28).

Unfortunately, Agrippa can't help Festus and Festus knows it. They say to each other, "This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment" (Acts 26:31). Agrippa finishes, "This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar (Acts 26:32).
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