Acts 26:32

ESV And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”
NIV Agrippa said to Festus, 'This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.'
NASB And Agrippa said to Festus, 'This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.'
CSB Agrippa said to Festus, "This man could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar."
NLT And Agrippa said to Festus, 'He could have been set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.'
KJV Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.

What does Acts 26:32 mean?

When Festus took over as governor, he resolved to have a good relationship with the local leadership. His first stop after arriving in his capital of Caesarea Maritima was Jerusalem. The Sanhedrin, still angry that Paul had been out of their grasp, quickly pushed their agenda. They asked Festus to bring Paul to Jerusalem for trial, planning to assassinate him along the way. Festus knew that Paul was a Roman citizen and had the right to choose where his trial would be, so he countered by inviting them to Caesarea where Paul had been placed under house arrest two years prior (Acts 25:1–5).

Festus knows very little about Judaism, Christianity, or the Jewish culture. From where he stood, he couldn't see anything valid in the Sanhedrin's accusations against Paul. But he still wanted to accommodate their request, so he asked Paul if he wouldn't mind moving the trial to Jerusalem. Paul scolded Festus, saying if he couldn't perform his legal duties and hold the trial in Caesarea, Paul would take advantage of his rights as a Roman citizen and move the trial to Caesar's court in Rome (Acts 25:6–12).

Festus will send Paul to Caesar, but he must also have legal charges. He's asked King Agrippa II and the leaders of Caesarea to hear Paul's testimony and determine what he should tell Caesar's court (Acts 25:23). The decision is obvious: "This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment" (Acts 26:31).

Agrippa's words are true, but God has a reason for Paul's appeal. Two years prior Jesus had told Paul, "Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome" (Acts 23:11). Paul knows it's time to go to Rome, as he's wished to for years (Romans 1:9–10). To get there, he will survive a violent storm, a shipwreck, murderous guards, and a snakebite. When he arrives, the reception of the Jews will not be as enthusiastic as he wished. But he will share the story of Jesus with members of Caesar's household and write letters to Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae, and Philemon. And two years later, he will finally be free (Acts 27—28).
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