Acts chapter 25

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1Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem. 2Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him, 3And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him. 4But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither. 5Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him. 6And 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. 7And 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. 8While 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. 9But 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? 10Then 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. 11For 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. 12Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.
13And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus. 14And 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: 15About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him. 16To 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. 17Therefore, 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. 18Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: 19But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. 20And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters. 21But 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. 22Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him. 23And 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. 24And 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. 25But 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. 26Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. 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. 27For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.

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 to help 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).
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