What does Acts chapter 25 mean?Paul is in custody in Caesarea Maritima, the Roman capital of the region. Careless but zealous Jews from modern-day Turkey, irritated Jewish leaders from Jerusalem, and a corrupt Roman governor have conspired such that Paul has been under house arrest for two years with no formal charges. The Sanhedrin wanted him charged, convicted, and if possible executed. Governor Felix couldn't bow to their wishes because Paul hadn't seemed to break any actual laws. So, he kept Paul under wraps, occasionally calling for him in hopes Paul would offer to buy his freedom, and then sending him away when Paul pointed out he's a corrupt and violent person who will be judged by God. Within two years, the citizens of Caesarea complained about Felix's cruelty so much that Nero commanded he return to Rome (Acts 24).
Acts 25:1–5 introduces the new governor, Porcius Festus, who must deal with the Paul problem before he even settles in. Three days after arriving in Caesarea, he travels to Jerusalem to meet the Sanhedrin, likely hoping to develop a better working relationship than they'd had with Felix. The Jewish leaders immediately ask him to bring Paul back to Jerusalem for trial, not telling Festus they need Paul out in the open to take another go at assassinating him (Acts 23:12–15). Festus counters by inviting them back up to Caesarea where they can begin a new trial.
In Acts 25:6–12, the undercurrents of the last two years swirl around a hapless Festus. The Jews arrive with serious but false charges against Paul. Paul counters by saying none of those things happened. Festus can see Paul is innocent but wishes to be a positive representative of Rome. So, he asks if Paul will agree to continue the trial in Jerusalem. Paul refuses, saying Festus has jurisdiction where he is. He then drops a bomb the Sanhedrin probably never considered: he insists his trial go "to Caesar," meaning an appeal to a higher Roman court. As Paul is a Roman citizen, Festus has no choice but to comply and the issue is out of the Sanhedrin's hands.
In Acts 25:13–22, having met the religious and cultural leaders, Festus greets the political leaders: King Agrippa II and his sister/lover Bernice. Festus asks for Agrippa's help, basically recapping everything that happened in Acts 25:1–12, but in more detail. He agrees with the tribune Lysias: this is a difference of opinion regarding the Jews' own religion (Acts 23:29). It is not an obvious offense against Roman law. As Festus is new to the area and knows little about Christianity, he asks Agrippa's help to determine if Paul has broken a Roman or Jewish law which he hasn't considered.
Acts 25:23–27 recounts Festus's opening remarks to Paul's testimony before Agrippa and Bernice, the military tribunes, and the city leaders. Festus explains—again—that he can find nothing with which to charge Paul but must send some information to Caesar. He asks for their help to determine what to write.
In Acts 26, Paul defends himself by giving his testimony. Festus is confused by Paul's story, but Agrippa understands the relationship between Judaism and Christianity and immediately determines the entire thing is a spat between Paul and the Sanhedrin—nothing criminal is involved. Paul appealed to Caesar, however, and so he must go. Paul and Luke take a harrowing sea voyage and survive a shipwreck before they arrive. In Rome, Paul spends another two years under house arrest, but is finally able to speak with the church directly and even manages to spread the gospel into Caesar's household (Acts 27—28).