The Road to Rome
But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.
The Greek word for “room” is diadochos and means successor. Porcius Festus is sent from Rome to replace Felix.
Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him, And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.
It is now 60 A.D.; Paul has been under house arrest for two full years. We have not seen cruelty from Felix to Paul, although some could argue otherwise. We have witnessed his corruption as he waited two years to extract a bribe from Paul.
Then Festus, only in the area a matter of days, and the High Priest and Chief Priests are trying once again to arrange for Paul to be murdered.
But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither. Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him. And 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.
This is not a Roman trial for those from the Sanhedrin will speak for themselves. It is also not a Sanhedrin trial because Festus is sitting as the judge.
And 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.
The same problem as before, no proof, no evidence.
While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended anything at all.
Paul’s defense holds firm, and once again, Paul has a trial without the judge rendering a verdict.
But 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?
Felix was willing to do the Judean Council a favor by keeping Paul in bonds. But it was bonds in the governor’s residence, guarded by Roman soldiers. Festus on the other hand, is also willing to do the Judean Council a favor by sending Paul back to Jerusalem to stand trial in front of the Sanhedrin one more time.
If Festus is willing to give an honest judgment, why not render a verdict right here and now? What will he hear differently in Jerusalem?
Then 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. For 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.
Paul has had enough. Either relying upon his citizenship as a Roman or inspiration from God, Paul appeals to Caesar. He takes the decision out of the hands of Festus who is obviously setting Paul up to be killed.
Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.
Festus agrees it is Paul’s legal right to appeal unto Caesar. These are busy days for Festus as he sets up life as the new governor of Judea and welcomes King Agrippa II and Bernice.
And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.
There have been many Herod’s associated with Israel through the years. All of them are descendants of the first, King Herod the Great. Herod the Great is the Herod in the Bible that had children slaughtered to kill the Christ child. This original Herod was from a Jewish mother and a father who was an Edomite.
An Edomite is a descendant of Esau, the eldest son of Isaac who desired the physical inheritance of Isaac but not the spiritual inheritance.
When Herod the Great died, around 4 A.D., his kingdom was split between his four sons. Herod Antipas, called the Tetrarch, is the Herod that killed John the Baptist and presided over a mock trial of Jesus before he was crucified. He was followed by Herod Agrippa I who killed the Apostle James and expected to kill Peter. He met his end in Acts 12. He was followed by Herod Agrippa II, his son, who we are meeting in Acts 25.
Herod Agrippa I had three daughters, two of which are in this section of Acts. His youngest daughter, Drusilla was married to Felix, and Bernice, when her husband died came to live with her brother, Herod Agrippa II, as his queen.
Herod Agrippa II was seventeen years old when he became the King, but Nero kept him in Rome thinking he was too young to rule as a king. By the time of Acts 25 Herod Agrippa II is approximately thirty-one years old.
And 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: About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him. To 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.
Again, you can see the impact the Twelve Tablets had on the legal system of the Roman Empire. Paul gets to face his accusers and give an answer to the accusations of crimes. Festus, according to verse 16, knows the Temple leadership wants to kill Paul, but he is a Roman citizen, and you must be careful how you treat a Roman citizen.
Therefore, 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. Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters. 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.
“Augustus” is used here as a title. Every Caesar since Julius Caesar has used this title in his name. The Greek word is sebastos and it means reverend, or emperor, or venerable. It is a Roman idiom.
Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. Tomorrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.
So, it is decided, Paul will give his testimony yet again. Governor Festus is looking for help with what to say about Paul as he sends him to Rome for trial.
And 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.
Look at this audience King Agrippa and Governor Festus are providing for Paul. People coming out to see the new governor or to see a King are about to hear the Word of God.
Yet Festus wants to fully explain what is happening and why it is happening.
And 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. But 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. Of 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. For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.
Festus is looking for some help, especially from King Agrippa who knows and understands Rome.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Here, in one verse of scripture, are the two spiritual forces operating in the world, one in plain sight, the other hidden behind lies and worldly wisdom.
Gathered here are the cream of the crop (intellectually, socially, financially) that the world of Caesarea has to offer. King Agrippa II, with his sister Bernice, Governor Festus, and the Chief Captains, along with the principal men of the city of Caesarea.
An illustrious group of people. Raised on the greatest wisdom the world has to offer. God is giving them the privilege to hear the personal testimony of the Apostle Paul, without the slander and accusations of the envious Sanhedrin.
© Auxano Ministry 2023