Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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ACTS - Chapter 25

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Acts 25

Supplemental Commentary:

II.  THE CHURCH IN ASIA MINOR AND EUROPE:
THE MISSIONARY JOURNEYS OF ST. PAUL  13, 1 -- 28, 31 (continued)

4.  Imprisonment in Palestine  21, 17 -- 26, 32 (continued)

25, 1-12:  Festus.  The two years' inactivity had not lessened the Jew's animosity against St. Paul.  Backed by a shouting crowd, they had at first tried to overawe the new procurator and force him to condemn St. Paul at once (25, 15 f).  Failing this, they wanted him to order the trial held at Jerusalem.    9.  The injustice of this request is indicated by his motive which was to begin his term of office with the good will of the Jews.    11.  St. Paul knew the hopelessness of justice in such a trial and also perhaps the plots against his life.  Once he exercised his right as a Roman citizen to be tried before the Emperor at Rome, Festus had to admit the appeal.

25, 13-27:  Agrippa.    13.  Agrippa was the son of Herod Agrippa I, who had persecuted the Church (Acts 12), and the great-grandson of Herod the Great.  He had received Chalchis, to the north of Palestine, from the Emperor Claudius and later was given Batanea and the vicinity.  He had authority over the Jews in religious matters.  During the Jewish war he sided with the Romans.  His sister Bernice lived with him after the death of her first husband, Herod of Chalcis, and rumor accused them of incestuous intimacy.  Then she married Polemon, king of Pontus, but later king merely of a small section of northwestern Cilicia; but she soon left him and returned to her brother.  She found favor with both Vespasian and Titus during the Jewish War, and Titus would have married her in Rome, had it not been for the popular outcry.    20.  In reality he was afraid of the Jews.    21.  He seems aware that he has put himself in a false position by forcing St. Paul to appeal instead of releasing him.


Confraternity Bible:

Festus  1 Festus accordingly entered his province, and three days afterwards he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem.  2 And the chief priests and Jewish leaders presented their charges against Paul, and begged him, 3 asking it as a favor against Paul, that he would have him fetched to Jerusalem.  Meanwhile they were laying an ambush to kill him on the way.  4 But Festus answered that Paul was being kept in custody at Caesarea and that he himself would be going there shortly.  5 "Let, therefore, your influential men go down with me," he said, "and if there is anything wrong with the man, let them present charges against him."

6 After staying among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea, and the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul brought in.  7 And when he was fetched, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem surrounded him and brought many serious charges against him, which they were unable to prove.  8 Paul said in his own defense, "Neither against the Law of the Jews nor against the temple nor against Caesar have I committed any offense."  9 But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, "Art thou willing to go up to Jerusalem and be tried there before me on these charges?'

10 But Paul said, "I am standing at the tribunal of Caesar; there I ought to be tried.  To Jews I have done no wrong, as thou thyself very well knowest.  11* For if I had done any wrong or committed a crime deserving of death, I do not refuse to die.  But if there is no ground to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them; I appeal to Caesar."  12 Then Festus, after conferring with the council, answered, "Thou hast appealed to Caesar; to Caesar thou shalt go."

Agrippa  13* And after an interval of some days, King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus.  14 And as they were staying there several days, Festus laid Paul's case before the king, saying, "There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix, 15 and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and elders of the Jews presented their case against him, and asked for his conviction.  16 But I told them that Romans are not accustomed to give any man up before the accused has met his accusers face to face and has been given a chance to defend himself against the charges.  17 Therefore, when they had assembled here, I lost no time, but on the following day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought in.  18 But when his accusers got up, they did not charge him with any of the crimes that I had expected.  19 But they had against him certain questions about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, but who Paul affirmed was alive.  20 Being at a loss as to how to investigate such matters, I asked him if he was willing to go to Jerusalem and be tried on these charges there.  21* But when Paul entered an appeal to have his case reserved for the decision of Augustus, I ordered him kept in custody till I could send him to Caesar."  22 And Agrippa said to Festus, "I myself also could have wished to hear the man."  "Tomorrow," said he, "thou shalt hear him."

23 So the next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the audience hall with the tribunes and principal men of the city, and by order of Festus Paul was brought in.  24 And Festus said, "King Agrippa and all men here present with us, you see this man about whom the whole multitude of the Jews pleaded with me at Jerusalem and here, insisting and crying out that he ought not to live any longer.  25 But I, for my part, found that he had done nothing deserving of death.  But as he himself made the appeal, I decided to send him to Augustus.  26 Still I have nothing definite to write to my lord about him.  So I have brought him forth before you, and especially before thee, King Agrippa, that after an examination of him has been made I may have something to put in writing.  27 For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner without stating the charge against him."
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*

11: Appeal to Caesar: when a Roman citizen under trial appealed to the emperor, the case passed out of the jurisdiction of all other magistrates.

13: Agrippa: Herod Agrippa II, son of the Herod in chapter 12.

21: Augustus: a title used for the emperors from the time of Augustus himself, who reigned from 27 B.C. to 14 A.D.