1 “Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended
from Caesarea to
was come, Authorized Version; went up for he ascended, Authorized Version;
The province (ἐπαρχία – eparchia - province); above, ch. 23:34. After three days, etc.
It is an evidence of the diligence of Festus that he lost no
time in going to
the center of disaffection to the Roman government.
2 “Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul,
and besought him,” And for then, Authorized Version; chief priests for high priest,
Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; principal men for chief, Authorized Version;
and they besought for and besought, Authorized Version. Chief priests; as in v. 15
and ch. 22:30. But the reading of the Textus Receptus, "the high priest," is more in
accordance with ch. 24:1, and is approved by Alford. The high priest at this time
was no longer Ananias, but Ismael the son of Phabi, who was appointed by King
Agrippa towards the close of Felix's government (Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 20. 8:8).
He went to
the temple from being overlooked, and which Agrippa had ordered to be pulled
down; and being detained at
priesthood by Joseph Cabi the son of Simon. We may feel sure that on this occasion
he was present before Festus, for
he had not yet gone to
(ἐνεφάνισαν - enephanisan - disclosed); see ch. 24:1, note. The principal men of
the Jews (οἱ πρῶτοι – hoi protoi – the foremost ones). In v. 15 Festus speaks of
them as οἱ πρεσβύτεροι – hoi presbuteroi – the elders. The question arises as to
whether the two phrases are identical in their meaning. Meyer thinks that the
πρῶτοι includes leading men who were not elders, i.e. not Sanhedrists. Josephus
calls the leading Jews of
ton Ioudaion - ('Ant. Jud.,' 20. 8:9).
3 “And desired favor against him, that he would send
for him to
laying wait in the way to kill him.” Asking for and desired, Authorized Version;
to kill him on the way for in the way to kill him, Authorized Version. Asking favor,
etc. The Jews evidently thought to take advantage of the inexperience of Festus,
and of his natural desire to please them at his first start, to accomplish their
murderous intentions against Paul.
Seeking Favor to Cover Wicked Devices (v. 3)
Taking advantage of the anxiety to please his new subjects which would
characterize the fresh governor, the enemies of Paul came to Festus
asking a favor; not, however, that they directly asked for what they really
wanted. They asked for Paul’s trial at a
ecclesiastical offences, with which he was charged, could alone be properly
considered. They intended to take advantage of his journey to attack the
party and kill Paul — a scheme which only religious bigotry could devise,
for it was one which promised little success. Roman soldiers were not wont
to lose their prisoners. The incident gives a painful illustration of the
miserable servility of religious bigotry. Farrar says, “Festus was not one of
the base and feeble procurators who would commit a crime to win
popularity. The Palestinian Jews soon found that they had to do with one
who more resembled a Gallio than a Felix.” “Festus saw through them
sufficiently to thwart their design under the guise of a courteous offer that,
Paul was now at
and give a full and fair audience to their complaints. On their continued
insistence, Festus gave them the haughty and genuinely Roman reply that,
whatever their Oriental notions of justice might be, it was not the custom
of the Romans to grant any person’s life to his accusers by way of doing a
favor, but to place the accused and the accusers face to face, and to give
the accused a full opportunity for self-defense.” Felix may have given
Festus some intimation of the enmity felt against this particular prisoner,
and some account of the plot to assassinate him, from which he had been
preserved by Lysias. Examining the character and schemes of these
enemies of Paul, we note:
thoroughly “prejudiced,’’ and religious prejudices are the most blinding and
most mischievous that men can take up. No kind of argument, no
statements of fact, ever suffice to correct such prejudices, as may be
illustrated from both religious and political spheres in our own day. Things
corrected or denied a hundred times over, prejudice will persist in
believing. When prejudice says, “It must be,” all the world may stand in
vain and plead, “But it is not.” The prejudice of these men declared that
Paul had defiled the temple, but he had not; it said that he insulted the
honored system of Moses, but he did not. Their eyes were blinded, their
hearts were hardened, and all argument was lost upon them.
Recall the scene in the court of the high priest, when the person occupying
that office temporarily was reproved by the apostle. Nothing increases the
hate in an evil-disposed man like his being publicly reproved or humbled.
The Sadducees, who were the party to which the high priest belonged,
would consider themselves insulted in the insult offered to him. And the
Pharisee party were, no doubt, intensely annoyed by being drawn, on the
same occasion, into a mere theological wrangle, which showed themselves
up, and led to their losing their opportunity of killing Paul. So often
personal feeling, injured pride, is at the root of religious prejudice and
persecution. The fancied loyalty to God of the religious persecutor is really
an extravagant anxiety about SELF!
PURPOSE. The scheme to kill Paul had been thwarted through Paul’s
nephew and the Roman officer; but the annoyance of failure prevented
their seeing in the failure a rebuke. What the malicious cannot accomplish
by open methods they will seek by secret ones, lowering themselves to any
depths of meanness to accomplish their ends, even fawning upon new
governors and begging personal favors. Beware of the debasing influence
of cherished prejudices.
4 “But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at
himself would depart shortly thither.” Howbeit for but. Authorized Version;
was kept in charge for should be kept, Authorized Version; was about to depart
thither shortly for would depart shortly thither, Authorized Version. Was kept in
charge. Festus did not merely mention the fact, which the Jews knew already,
that Paul was a prisoner at
he could go down and try him. The Authorized Version gives the meaning.
Either – Ho men – the indeed - is to be understood, as if Festus should say,
"Paul is a Roman citizen;
the procurator, and therefore he must be kept in custody there," or some such
words as, "I have given orders" must be understood before "that Paul should
5 “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. Saith for said,
Authorized Version; which are of power among you for which among you are able,
Authorized Version; if there is anything amiss in the man, let them accuse him
for accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him, Authorized Version.
Which are of power among you; i.e. your chief men, or, as we should say,
your best men, which would include ability to conduct the accusation as well
as mere station. Josephus frequently uses δυνατοί - dunatoi – able - in the sense
of "men of rank and power and influence," Ἰουδαίων οἱ δυνατώτατοι
('Ant. Jud.,' 14. 13:1); ἤκον Ἰουδαίων
Xenophon, and Philo, quoted by Kuinoel). The rendering of the Authorized
Version, though defensible, is less natural and less in accordance with the
genius of the language. Amiss; ἄτοπον – atopon, but many manuscripts omit
ἄτοπον, leaving the sense, however, the same.
6 “And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down
Paul to be brought. Not more than eight or ten days for more than ten days,
Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; on the morrow for the next day,
Authorized Version; he sat... and commanded for sitting... commanded,
Authorized Version. On the morrow (see v. 17). To be brought (ἀχθῆναι –
achthaenai – to be led forth). The technical word for bringing a prisoner
7 “And when he was come, the Jews which came down
stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul,
which they could not prove.” Had come down for came down, Authorized
Version; about him for about, Authorized Version; bringing against him for
and laid... against Paul, Authorized Version; charges for complaints, Authorized
Version. Charges; αἰτιάματα – aitiamata, only here in the New Testament, and
rare in classical Greek. The Authorized Version "complaints" means in older
English exactly the same as "charges" or "accusations" (compare "plaintiff").
8 "While 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."
Paul said in his defense for he answered for himself, Authorized Version and
Textus Receptus; nor for neither, Authorized Version; against for yet against,
Authorized Version; sinned for offended anything, Authorized Version. Said
in his defense (ἀπολογουμένου' - apologoumenou - of defending); ch. 24:10,
note. The Law... the temple,... Caesar. The accusations against him fell under
these three heads (ibid. v. 5): he was the ringleader of an unlawful sect; he had
profaned the temple; and he had stirred up insurrection against the government
among the Jews. The accusations were false under every head.
Protestations of Innocence (v. 8)
The contrast between the two trials needs careful attention. “On the second
occasion, when Paul was tried before Festus, the Jews had no orator to
plead for them, so the trial degenerated into a scene of passionate clamor,
in which Paul simply met the many accusations against him by calm
denials.” The Jews seem to have brought no witnesses, and the apostle
knew well enough that no Roman judge would listen to mere accusations
unsupported by testimony. On the one side was accusation without
witness; it was enough if, on the other side, there was the plea of “not
guilty,” and the solemn protestation of innocence. The charges so
clamorously made were:
1. Of Paul’s heresy. He was declared to be a renegade Jew, whose
teachings were proving most mischievous, and striking at the very
foundations of the Mosaic religious system. Paul answered with an
emphatic denial. He was but proclaiming those very truths for the sake of
which the Mosaic system had been given, and of which it had testified, and
for which it had been the preparation.
2. Of Paul’s sacrilege. This was, in the view of formal religionists, the
height of all crime. Their charge rested on a statement of fact: this Paul had
brought Trophimus, an Ephesian, into the temple, in order to pollute their
temple and offer them an open insult. This Paul simply denied. There was
no such fact. He had not brought Trophimus into the temple; and, if the
Roman governor took any notice at all of this charge, he would certainly
have demanded witnesses to prove the fact, and have thrown the burden of
finding the necessary witnesses on the accusers, and not on the prisoner.
3. Of Paul’s treason. This the Jews could only insinuate, but this point they
hoped would especially influence Festus. Such a man must be dangerous to
the state; popular tumults have attended his presence in every city where he
has gone. He ought not to be set at liberty. Festus was not in the least
likely to be frightened into doing an injustice, and could read the character
of his prisoner too well to pay any heed to their clamor and their
insinuations. “If there was a single grain of truth in the Jewish accusations,
Paul had not been guilty of anything approaching to a capital crime.” It
may be impressed that:
defense of himself against any charges that may be brought against him.
This is especially necessary when the charges take definite shape and seem
to have sanction and support. But:
firmly on his plea of innocence, and wait his time for his righteousness to
become clear as the noonday, This is best when the charges are vague, and
evidently the results of misrepresentation and slander. It is hopeless to
attempt the correction of such evils; we can only live them down. Our
conduct must depend on the nature of the attack that is made on us. Even
if specific charges are made, we may find it wisest to do as the apostle did,
and throw the burden of proof altogether upon our accusers.
9 "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?"
Desiring to gain favor with the Jews for willing to do the Jews a pleasure, Authorized
Version. To gain favor, etc. (see above, ch. 24:27, note). It was not unnatural that
Festus, ignorant as he still was of Jewish malice and bigotry and violence, in the case
of Paul, and anxious to conciliate a people so difficult to govern as the Jews had
showed themselves to be, should make the proposal. In doing so he still insisted
that the trial should be before him. Before me; ἐπ ἐμοῦ - ep emou, as ch. 23:30
and ch. 26:2; ἐπὶ σοῦ - epi sou - "before thee," viz. King Agrippa in the last case,
and Felix in the former. The expression is somewhat ambiguous, and may merely
mean that Festus would be present in the court to ensure fair play, while the
Sanhedrim judged Paul according to their Law, and so Paul seems, by his answer,
to have understood it.
10 "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.'
But Paul said for then said Paul, Authorized Version; I am standing for I stand,
Authorized Version; before for at, Authorized Version; thou also for thou,
Authorized Version. I am standing before Caesar's judgment-seat (ἑστώς εἰμι -
hestos eimi - having stood I am). The judgment-seat of the procurator, who
ministered judgment in Caesar's name and by his authority, was rightly called
"Caesar's judgment-seat." As a Roman citizen, Paul had a right to be tried there,
and not before the Sanhedrim. The pretence that he had offended against the
Jewish Law, and therefore ought to be tried by the Jewish court, was a false one,
as Festus well knew; for he had the record of the preceding trial before him.
11 "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." If then I am a wrong,
doer for for if I be an offender, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; and for or,
Authorized Version; if none of those things is true for if there be none of these things,
Authorized Version; can give me up for may deliver me, Authorized Version.
I refuse not; οὐ παραιτοῦμαι - ou paraitoumai - I am not refusing. Here only in the
Acts, and three times in Luke 14. Elsewhere, four times in the pastoral Epistles,
and twice in Hebrews. Frequent in classical Greek. No man can give me up
(χαρίσασθαι -charisasthai - to surrender a favor); as v. 16, "to hand over as
a matter of complaisance." Paul saw at once the danger he was in from Festus's
inclination to curry favor with the Jews. With his usual fearlessness, therefore,
and perhaps with the same quickness of temper which made him call Ananias
"a whited wall," he said, "No man (not even the mighty Roman governor) may
make me over to them at their request, to please them," and with the ready wit
which characterized him, and with a knowledge of the rights which the Lex Julia,
in addition to other laws, conferred on him as a Roman citizen, he immediately
added, I appeal unto Caesar. This appeal unto Caesar was the gate at
last opened, and no man could shut it. There was a voice speaking to Paul
which he knew COULD COMMAND
Courage to Live (vs. 10-11)
Paul knows that he is “standing” (see Revised Version) already at the bar
of Caesar. There he elects still to stand. And his formal appeal to Caesar is
but the public and legal registration of his deliberate and decisive choice to
that effect. There were, no doubt, two sides to the question that had been
before Paul, though it savored ever so little of the nature of a question with
him. The two sides were these — that justice was nearer him when he was
before Caesar than when he might be before them of “
nevertheless to consent to go, and to choose to go, to Caesar, to
and to the likeliest prospect of justice, begged, in Paul’s special case and
character, very real courage — the courage to live. Notice, then, that the
decision recorded in these verses was the decision of:
case, in instances that do not touch the question of life, but do touch those
of principle and duty, that even conscious innocence prefers the easier path
of non-resistance and non-defense, when resistance and self-defense would
be the right course. Nature, beyond a doubt, should often be mortified. But
there is a nature also which should be observed and followed and obeyed.
To stand up for one’s own innocence is sometimes to stand up for all
fight to the end, must run to the goal, must labor till the nightfall. And this
requires sometimes great patience. With Paul and others of the early
Christians, whose names are now nowhere else but in that best place — “
the book of life,” this was true to such an extent, that a Divine maxim
became formulated in Scripture for the behoove of it, and so it was written,
“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye
might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36). Paul must have often felt,
what he once said, “To depart and be with Christ were far better.”
(Philippians 1:23) Many a craven spirit faints. Many fail long before they
have “resisted unto blood.” (Hebrews 12:4)
consider many a question, not in its reference to his own individuality, but
in its bearing upon the cause he has at heart. Many herein may err,
therefore, “lacking wisdom” (James 1:5). Paul saw that it was wisdom’s
dictate not to allow himself and his cause to be baffled. Let alone other
aspects of the case, it was policy, and a right and holy policy to appeal
opportunities of usefulness, all along the way to
bonds were to be manifest “in the palace and in all other places”
(Philippians 1:13). He was to gain many converts even “of Caesar’s
household.” A “great door and effectual” (I Corinthians 16:9) was yet to
be opened before him and the gospel he preached and loved so well, so
faithfully. So it was duty to stand to his colors, though men might possibly
taunt him that he was rather standing for his life.
Paul was assured by the angel of the Lord, who stood by him at night, that
occasional distrust that a conscience feels with regard to its own verdicts,
when Heaven’s guidance is borne in upon one. This satisfaction Paul had.
And though the vista which his own choice revealed to him terminated in a
very arena of conflict most visible, but its severity, its amount, its terrors
unseen, and not to be estimated, yet nor tongue nor heart falters. He
appeals to Caesar, and “if he perish, he will perish” there.
Appeal to Caesar (v. 11)
In introducing this subject, the difficulty in which Festus was placed should
be shown. His predecessor had just been recalled, through the opposition
of these very Jews who were now seeking a favor from him, and to resist
them in their first request would be sure to excite a strong prejudice against
him. So even Festus attempted the weakness of a compromise. He saw that
the matter was not one with which a Roman tribunal could concern itself.
It was really a locally religious dispute. So he thought he could meet the
case by persuading Paul to go to
of his protection. But the apostle knew the Jews much better than Festus
did. Perhaps he was quite wearied out with these vain trials and this
prolonged uncertainty. It seems that he suddenly made up his mind to claim
his right of appeal as a Roman citizen, which would secure him from the
machinations of his Jewish enemies. There are times when Christians may
appeal to their citizen rights in their defense. This may be illustrated from
such a case as that of the Salvation Army, and their right of procession
through the streets. In times of religious persecution men have properly
found defense and shelter in a demand for legal and political justice. Their
hope has often lain in having their cases removed from the heated
passionate atmospheres of religious courts to the calm atmospheres of
strictly legal ones, though even our law-courts do not always keep due
calmness when questions related to religion are brought before them. In
this incident we may notice:
citizenship. No governor could give him up to the Jews apart from his own
consent (v. 16). Recall the circumstances under which Paul’s citizenship
had proved his defense.
from any inferior to the supreme court at
presided. Theoretically, this was a safeguard to justice, but in practice it
proved rather a furtherance of injustice. The apostle was not likely to know
all that was involved in his appeal. “There is obviously something like a
sneer in the procurator’s acceptance of Paul’s decision. He knew, it
may be, better than the apostle to what kind of judge the latter was
appealing, what long delays there would be before the cause was heard,
how little chance there was of a righteous judgment at last.” The appeal
must have been a surprise to all who heard it.
Ø To Paul’s friends, who lost the last hope of having him released to
Ø To Paul’s enemies, who knew that he was now altogether beyond their
Ø To Festus, who felt that the prisoner recognized his inability to follow
out what he knew to be the right, and who could not help being ashamed
of his suggested weak compromise. Still, in this we may feel that the
apostle was divinely directed, according to the promise, “It shall be
given you in that hour what ye shall speak.” (Luke 12:11-12) Through
and indeed almost an impossible, thing, that Paul should see
even dwell there as a Christian teacher. We are often showing that
circumstances work out Divine providences; we need also to see that
the free actions of men, freely taken, work out the Divine providences
quite as certainly.
12 “Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou
appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.” Thou hast for hast thou?
Authorized Version and, as far as punctuation is concerned, Textus Receptus.
The council. Not the members of the Sanhedrim who were present, but his own
consiliarii, or assessores, as they were called, in Greek πάρεδροι – paredroi,
with whom the Roman governor advised before giving judgment. Unto Caesar
shalt thou go. In like manner, Pliny (quoted by Kuinoel) says of certain Christians
who had appealed to Caesar, that, "because they were Roman citizens, he had
thought it right to send them to
maybe, rather startled by Paul's appeal, was perhaps not sorry to be thus rid of a
difficult case, and at the same time to leave the Jews under the impression that he
himself was willing to send the prisoner for trial to
Persistent Hatred (vs. 1-12)
There is a bitterness and a dogged persistency in the enmity of an Oriental,
and an inextinguishable thirst for revenge, which are unlike anything we
know of among ourselves. Some knowledge and perception of this are
necessary to enable us to understand many things in the Old Testament,
including allusions to his enemies in some of the Psalms of David. The
conduct of the Jews to Paul is a remarkable example of this persevering
hatred, which nothing could avert or mollify. Passing over the previous
displays of it at every place in Asia and
gospel, from the first outbreak of it at
against him at
existence, and to the cause of it, by James in ch. 21:21. We then saw
the steps taken by Paul to conciliate those enemies, and to convince
them that their prejudice against him was unfounded. But how vain these
efforts were soon appears. In the very temple court where he was taking
pains to humor their prejudices and to soften their hatred, that hatred broke
out into a flame of unparalleled violence. In an instant the whole city was
upon him, and would have torn him to pieces had not the Roman soldiers
rescued him from their hands. A momentary lull while they listened to
Paul’s Hebrew speech was followed by a more furious burst of passion
than before. When violence had failed to take away the hated life, they had
recourse to guile and to the arts of the secret assassin. Baffled again at
him before the Roman judge. They heaped charge upon charge and lie
upon lie in hope to compass his condemnation, and when for two whole
years their malice had been defeated, while the object of their hatred
remained a prisoner out of their reach, and at a time when the miseries of
their country called for all their attention and solicitude, far from time
having dulled the edge of their malice, or the calls of patriotism having
diverted their thoughts from the object of their revenge, they were more
intent than ever upon Paul’s destruction. Their first thought on the change
of government seems to have been, not thankfulness for the cessation of
the oppressive tyranny of Felix, but the hope of working upon the
inexperience of Festus so as to get Paul into their power. Again the baffled
assassins were ready to fall upon the doomed man by the way; again the
restless hatred of the chief priests carried them to
false accusations could bring about. But this spectacle of unwearied and
unscrupulous hatred and persistent malice, hideous as it is, acquires a value
of its own when we contrast with it the love and the kindness of the gospel
of Christ. Whence must those precepts of patience and forgiveness and
love for our enemies have sprung, which shine like precious jewels in the
pages of the Bible? Or look at Paul. He was a Jew like them: were they
Hebrews? so was he. And yet, while they were cursing, and conspiring, and
persecuting, and blaspheming, he was loving, enduring, forgiving, striving
to overcome evil with good. They were moving heaven and earth to take
away his life who had never done them any wrong; and his heart’s desire
and prayer to God for them, his cruel persecutors, and the labor of his
whole life as well, was that they might be saved. (Romans 10:1) It is a
wonderful contrast. It sets out the Divine origin of the gospel and its heavenly
character with singular force. It is a most luminous comment on our Lord’s
words, “Ye are from beneath; I am from above” (John 8:23). The bright star
of love shines all the brighter in our eyes from being thus, as it were, surrounded
by the thick darkness of a persistent hatred.
Tenacity in Right (vs. 1-12)
Paul is brought before a fresh judge. He defends the principles of duty and
right in the same spirit as before, with perfect boldness, as the state of the
matter demands, and at the same time with due respect to the office of the
Ø To the audacity of the hypocrite. They brought many and heavy charges
against Paul, which they were unable to prove. Again, “the servant is as his
Lord.” The substance of the charges, too, ever the same: transgression of
the Law, desecration of the temple, revolt against the emperor. Simple and
sincere, is the defense, in both cases (compare v. 8 with John 18:20-21).
Ø To the insolence of the knave. Paul refuses no legal investigation. He
stands firmly on the constitution of the state, before the tribunal of Caesar.
The “powers that be” he taught were divinely ordained for the repression
of evil-doers and the defense of the righteous. (Romans 13)
Ø To the obstinacy of the contentious man. He willingly subjects himself to
any fair investigation and just decision of his case.
may be derived from this. The Christian may and should appeal:
Ø From the sentence of the unjust man to the judgment of the just.
Ø From the passions of the moment to the calm verdict of posterity.
Ø From the opinions of the external world to the testimony of the inner
world of conscience.
Ø From the human tribunal to the eternal throne.
And as to the decision: “To Caesar thou shalt go!” It was partly Festus’s,
Paul’s, and above all, that of
There is a coincidence of our own wishes with the external decision of
another. Below or above both is the divinity that shapes our ends, the hand
of Him who causes all things to work together for good. (Romans 8:28)
13 “And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice
salute Festus.” Now when certain days were passed for and after certain days,
Authorized Version; Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at for King Agrippa
and Bernice came unto, Authorized Version; and saluted for to salute, Authorized
Version and Textus Receptus. Agrippa the king.
Herod Agrippa II., son of
seventeen at his father's death, and so not considered by Claudius a safe person to
entrust his father's large dominions to. But he gave him Chalets, and afterwards,
in exchange for it, other dominions. It was he who made Ismael the son of Phabi
priest, and who built the palace at
and gave great offence to the Jews. He was the last of the Herods, and reigned
above fifty years. Bernice was his sister, but was thought to be living in an
incestuous intercourse with him. She had been the wife of her uncle Herod,
Prince of Chalets; and on his death lived with her brother. She then for a while
became the wife of Polemo, King of Cicilia, but soon returned to Herod Agrippa.
She afterwards became the mistress of Vespasian and of Titus in succession (Alford).
And saluted; ἀσπασόμενοι – aspasomenoi - greeting which reading Meyer and
Alford both retain. The reading of the Received Text is ἀσπασάμενοι – aspasameno.
It is quite in accordance with the position of a dependent king, that he should come
his respects to the new Roman governor at
14 “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:”
As they tarried for when they had been, Authorized Version: laid for declared,
Authorized Version; case for cause, Authorized Version; before for unto,
Authorized Version; a prisoner for in bonds, Authorized Version. Many days
(πλείους ἡμέρας – pleious haemeras - more days). Not necessarily many, but
as ch. 24:17 (margin), "some," or "several." The number indicated by the comparative
degree, πλείους – pleious - more, depends upon what it is compared with. Here it
means more days than was necessary for fulfilling the purpose of their visit, which was
to salute Festus. They stayed on some days longer. Laid Paul's case before the king;
ἀνέθετο τὰ κατὰ τὸν Παῦλον – anetheto ta kata ton Paulon – submitted the affairs of
Paul. The word only occurs in the New Testament here and in Galatians 2:2, "I laid
before them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles." In II Maccabees 3:9,
Ἀνέθετο περὶ τοῦ γεγονότος ἐμφανισμοῦ - Anetheto peri tou gegonotos
emphanismou, "Heliodorus laid before the high priest Onias the information that
had been given about the treasure in the temple" (see other passages quoted by
Kuinoel). The word might be rendered simply "told," the thing told being in the
accusative, and the person to whom it is told in the dative. It was very natural
that Festus should take the opportunity of consulting Agrippa, a Jew, and expert
in all questions of Jewish Law, about Paul's cause.
15 “About whom, when I was at
Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.” Asking for sentence
for desiring to have judgment, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. The chief
priests (v. 2, note). Informed me (see above, v. 2, and ch. 24:1, note).
16 “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
license to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.”
That it is for it is, Authorized Version; custom for manner, Authorized Version;
to give up for to deliver... to die, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; the
accused for he which is accused, Authorized Version; have had opportunity to
make his defense concerning the matter for have license to answer for himself
concerning the crime, Authorized Version. To give up (above, v. 11, note).
Have had opportunity to make his defense (τόπον ἀπολογίας λάβοι – topon
apologias laboi); see ch. 22:1, note.
The Enlightened, the Unenlightened, and the Great Overruler
This piece of sacred history suggests:
OF THE ENLIGHTENED. Who was more enlightened than these Jews, so
far as outward privileges were concerned? They had the fullest opportunity of
knowing the truth and of acting uprightly. They “had the mind” of God;
revelation had shone on their path with full, strong light. Yet we find them
(vs. 2-3) endeavoring to get Paul into their power, that they might
deliberately assassinate him. And we again find them fiercely preferring
charges against him which they could not prove (v. 7). And again we find
them demanding judgment against him when no crime had been established
(v. 15). In how dark a light does their action appear! The men that would
have shuddered at a small and venial impropriety or omission do not
scruple to do rank injustice, to commit murder! They were neither the first
nor the last to make this fatal mistake (Luke 11:42; Matthew 7:21-23).
There have been, and are, many souls who have accounted themselves, and
have been reckoned by others, peculiarly holy, at whose door lie the most
serious sins, who are living lives utterly evil in God’s sight, and who will
awake to condemnation and retribution at the last (Psalm 139:23-24).
ADMIRABLE VIRTUES. The Roman had been far less favored than the
Jew in the great matter of religious privilege. Not unto him had been
“committed the oracles of God” (Romans 3:2); not to him had psalmists sung
and prophets prophesied. Yet we find the Roman sometimes exhibiting virtue
of an excellent order. We find this here. Festus, indeed, desired to “do the
Jews a pleasure” (v. 9). What governor would not? But he did not
commit any act of illegality or injustice in order to do this, and we find him
on two occasions resolutely declining to yield to pressure when he could
not do so without departing from fairness (vs. 4-5, 15-16). This
worthiness of behavior may have been due to respect for law rather than
regard for individual right; but it was honorable and excellent, as far as it
went. The self-control it indicates contrasts strongly with the abandonment
to passionate hatred which disgraced the Jews. Virtue is sometimes found
unassociated with religion.
Ø It may be the indirect and unconscious result of religious influence; or
Ø it may be the outgrowth of nobility of nature originally bestowed by
the Creator; or
Ø it may be the lingering consequence of early habits in which the life
was trained. In any case, not rooted in religion it is:
o unsatisfactory to God in its nature, and it is
o uncertain in its duration.
All moral excellency should be built on spiritual convictions. Then, and
then only, is it pleasing to God and certain to endure.
EVENTS. Had Festus, “willing to do the Jews a pleasure,” consented to
Paul’s being brought to
their murderous machinations. Then
have had some of those Epistles which now enrich our sacred literature,
and which we could ill spare from the sacred volume. But “his hour was
not yet come” — his hour of martyrdom, his hour of holy triumph, his hour
of deliverance and redemption. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the
death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15) and vainly is the persecutor’s arm
uplifted if God does not mean that the blow shall fall. So it is with all events.
The Divine Overruler is “shaping the ends” of all things, directing the
course and tracing the bound of our activities, compelling even the wrath
of man to praise Him (Psalm 76:10), conducting all things to a rightful
and blessed issue.
17 “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.”
When therefore for therefore, when, Authorized Version; together here for hither,
Authorized Version; I made no delay for without any delay, Authorized Version;
but on the next day for on the morrow, Authorized Version; sat down for I sat,
Authorized Version; brought for brought forth, Authorized Version.
To be brought (above, v. 6).
18 “Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation
of such things as I supposed:” Concerning for against, Authorized Version;
no charge for none accusation, Authorized Version; evil things for things,
Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. They brought no charge. The expression,
common in classical writers, ἐπιφέρειν αἰτίαν – epipherein aitian – charge they
brought on, answers to the Latin legal phrase, crimen inferre
Verrem.,' 5:41; 'Ad Herenn.,' 4:35). Such evil things as I supposed; viz.
seditions, insurrections, murders, and such like, which were so rife at this time.
19 “But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one
Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.” Religion for superstition,
Authorized Version; who for which, Authorized Version. Certain questions ζήτηματα –
deisidaimonia); see ch. 17:22, δεισιδαιμονεστέρους – deisidaimonesterous –
unusually religious, where there is the same doubt as here whether to take it in a
good sense or a bad one. Here, as Festus, a man of the world, was speaking to a
king who was a Jew, he is not likely to have intended to use an offensive phrase.
So it is best to render it "religion," as the Revised Version does. But Bishop
Wordsworth renders τῆς ἰδίας δεισιδαιμονίας – taes idias deisidaimonias –
his own superstition, Paul's, which agrees with the context. These details must
have been among those "complaints" spoken of in v. 7. Whom Paul affirmed
to be alive. Notice the stress constantly laid by the apostle upon the resurrection
of the Lord Jesus. If his own superstition is the right rendering, we have here
the nature of it, in Festus's view, belief in the resurrection of Jesus.
Party Accusations (vs. 18-19)
From Festus we learn what were the accusations made against the apostle
by his Jewish enemies, and we see plainly that they cared only for the
interests of party, not for THE TRUTH. It becomes evident that the point of
difficulty was our Lord’s resurrection, upon which Paul always so
firmly insisted. That fact is the central fact of Christianity; and upon it the
whole scheme of Christian doctrine rests. Note:
crime that was cognizable by the Roman authorities. They were in danger
of being themselves charged with violence done to a Roman citizen.
before a civil judge only matters of opinion. On these freedom was
allowed, so long as that freedom did not lead to acts of rebellion or
disorder. They did not even bring matters of opinion that were of public
concern, but only such as were made subjects of party contention. Their
little isms they thought of more importance than the government of the
empire. Festus haughtily says that the questions concerned their own
They set out prominently Paul’s great truth, that Jesus was alive, and had
present power to save. From his enemies we learn what Paul preached:
Ø Christ risen;
Ø Christ living;
Ø Christ saving now.
Christ, as “alive from the dead,” is declared:
Ø related to us as Mediator. (I Timothy 1-6)
We know clearly what made the Jewish party so mad against the apostle.
No other apostle or disciple had shown, as he had done, what was involved
in our Lord’s resurrection. Still if our preaching is to be a saving power on
men, we must declare Christ risen from the dead, and who is “able to save
unto the uttermost all who come unto God by Him.” (Hebrews 7:25)
Spiritual Deprivation (v. 19)
The translation which gives us the word “superstition” in this verse of our
English Version, cannot be accepted as conveying the meaning of Festus.
He would not have spoken of that which was, at all events nominally, the
religion of Agrippa, as a “superstition.” We may safely adopt the ordinary
word “religion” — a word, even from the Jews’ point of view, little
enough appreciated by a Roman official — as found in the Revised
Version. Great as was the practical injustice in some directions of Festus,
for instance, in keeping Paul in prison; yet we cannot fail to note a certain
truthfulness of his lip. He has already spoken sufficiently the acquittal of his
prisoner. This he does again, privately, in conversation with Agrippa; and
yet again tomorrow, without disguise, in the publicity of the open court.
To that same lip it was also given to utter, at all events, the central truth
about Jesus in His relation to men, however little he believed or understood
it. We may notice here:
NO KNOWLEDGE OF REVELATION FROM HIM WHO HAS SOME
SUCH KNOWLEDGE. Presumably, Festus had not the slightest
inclination to speak slightingly to Agrippa of the religion of the Jews of
utterly unintelligible to him. A Roman’s worship was a strange thing; his
religion a strange product under any circumstances — perhaps in nothing
so strange as in this disabling quality of them. But the phenomenon, after
all, is most typical. It is typical of all those in their measure, i.e. the
measure of their time and place in the whole world’s history, who are
without TRUE REVELATION. It shows these in the twofold aspect, and
apparently contradictory aspects, of believing far too much and far too
Ø They believe far too much; for they are sure to construct their own
superhuman and supernatural. They will have their own pantheon in some
Ø And they believe far too little; for the verities of the true revelation of
the superhuman and supernatural they are most averse to receive. Be the
account of this what it may, it is but the expression of the thing of
perpetual recurrence. The domain so wide, so dreary, of superstition lies
where ignorance of true revelation is the appointed signal for men to make
the materials of revelation unreal and incongruous for themselves.
(I have a grandson, in the first grade, that told me he had a friend that
is on his basketball team, tell him today as they were talking about God.
The boy told him that hell is a myth. CY – February 12, 2018)
“Professing themselves to be wise, they become fools,” not less in what
they accept than in what they reject. What a world of thought and feeling,
of meaning and of truth, was shut off from Festus, as his present language
betrays him! And what a world of thought and feeling, of meaning and of
truth, is shut off from any man and every man who is destitute of true
o If it have not yet traveled to him, it is at present his mysterious
o If it have, and he reject it, it is his undeniable folly and guilt.
Religion and superstition are not differenced by one not introducing the
supernatural, while the other does introduce it. They both introduce it, and
they both earnestly believe in it. They are differenced in that the one
acquaints with what things are real and which it concerns us to know,
beyond the ken of mortal eye or reason; but the other offers us
imaginations, perhaps in every grotesquest form, for TRUTH and stones
TRUTH, OF ALL CHRISTIAN FAITH, OF ALL CHRISTIAN
IMPULSE. “One Jesus, who was dead and whom,” now no longer Paul
alone, but a vast portion of the world, “affirms to be alive.” It were past all
his merit that it should be given to the lip of Festus to utter these words,
the charter of our faith and hope and religion, that day, and to have them
recorded as his. Yet there they were spoken by him, and here for ever they
will lie. The dead and anon living One is the center of Christian faith, hope,
love. It is the description He gives of Himself: “I am He that liveth, and was
dead, and, behold, I am alive for evermore” (Revelation 1:18). Three
perennial springs — springs of heavenly truth and influence, issue out of
these simplest and coldest words as uttered by Festus:
Ø The death of Christ has:
o a meaning all its own;
o a boundless fullness of meaning;
o an endless continuance of meaning.
Ø The life of Christ, after His death, has a very luster of light for us, if we
think of it simply for what it teaches us about Himself. It proclaims Him,
when all is considered, different from any other, unique among men, Prince
of life, Victor over death. These are his own dignities. He shines wonderful
in the midst of them, did we all but worship far away in wonder and
admiration but mystery lost.
Ø That risen life, and what followed it — the ascended life, have floods of
joyful meaning for us, when we remember all that is distinctly revealed as
involved in it for mankind and ourselves.
o He is every way to be trusted, since He has proved Himself true herein.
o He gives us the life He has for Himself.
o He is the very Specimen, the Earnest, the manifest First fruits of the life
that shall be, for all them that sleep in Him.
o He is even now, though invisible, somewhere surely, and mindful of His
people, and watchful over them, their one ever-living sympathizing
Mediator and High Priest.
o He lives above, waiting to receive, to judge, and then to bless His own
people forever and ever. Yes, the vital germs of all the highest Christian
hope and faith lie in the words of Festus.
20 “And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether
he would go to
perplexed how to inquire concerning these things, asked for because I doubted
of such manner of questions, I asked him, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus.
I, being perplexed, etc. The – zaetaemata – questions - spoken
of by Festus does not mean his own judicial inquiry, though it is so used once in
Polybius (6. 16:2), but the disputes or discussions on such subjects as the Resurrection,
himself at a loss. (Hopefully that is not your condition concerning the resurrection –
CY – 2018) The Authorized Version, therefore, expresses the sense more nearly
than the Revised Version. The Textus Receptus too, which inserts εἰς before τὴν
περὶ τούτων ζήτησιν – taen peri touton zaetaesin, is preferable to the Received
Text, because ἀποροῦμαι – aporoumai – being perplexed - does not govern an
accusative case, but is almost always followed by a preposition. Those who follow
the reading of the Textus Receptus, περὶ τούτου – peri toutou - concerning this,
either understand πράγματος – pragmatos – matter; thing, or refer τούτου
to Paul or to Jesus.
21 “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.” To be kept for
the decision of the emperor for to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus,
Authorized Version; should for might, Authorized Version. The decision;
διαγνῶσιν – diagnosin - investigation, here only in the New Testament; but it is
used in this sense in Wisdom of Solomon 3:18 ("the day of trial," or "hearing,"
Authorized Version), and by Josephus ('
(τοῦ Σεβαστοῦ - tou Sebastou); rather, as the Authorized Version, Augustus.
Augustus was the title conferred by the senate upon Octavius Caesar, B.C. 27,
whom we commonly designate Augustus Caesar. It became afterwards the
distinctive title of the reigning emperor, and, after the end of the second century,
sometimes of two or even three co-emperors, and was now borne by Nero. Its
Greek equivalent was Σεβαστός – Sebastos - Emperor. Augustus may be derived,
as Ovid says, from augeo, as faustus from faveo, and be kindred with augeo, and
mean one blest and aggrandized of God, and so, full of majesty. It is spoken of
all holy things, temples and the like, "Et queocunque sua Jupiter auget ope"
(Ovid, 'Fast.,' 1:609); and, as Ovid says in the same passage, is a title proper
to the gods. For, comparing it with the names of the greatest Roman families,
Maximus, Magnus, Torquatus, Corvus, etc., their names, he says, bespeak
human honors, but of Augustus, he says, "Hie socium summo cum Jove nomen
habet." And so the Greek Σεβαστός bespeaks a veneration closely akin to adoration.
Caesar, originally the name of a family of the Juliagens, became the name of
Octavius Caesar Augustus, as the adopted son of Julius Caesar; then of Tiberius,
as the adopted son of Augustus; and then of the successors of Tiberius, Caligula,
Claudius, and Nero, who had by descent or adoption some relationship to
C. Julius Caesar the great dictator. After Nero, succeeding emperors usually
prefixed the name of Caesar to their other names, and placed that of Augustus
after them. AElius Verus, adopted by Hadrian, was the first person who bore
the name of Caesar without being emperor. From this time it became usual for
the heir to the throne to bear the name; and later, for many of the emperor's
kindred to be so called. It was, in fact, a title of honor conferred by the emperor.
Mismeasurement of the Great and Small (vs. 17-21)
There is something ludicrous as well as instructive in the scene which
Festus here describes to Agrippa. Nothing could well be more incongruous
than a Roman judge presiding at a tribunal before which “niceties of the
Jewish religion” were brought up. He would feel utterly unsuited for the
work, and he gladly enough availed himself of the presence of Agrippa to
gain some notion of the subject which had so completely perplexed him. It
appeared to him that the men over whom he was called to rule were
permitting themselves to be passionately absorbed by questions not worthy
of a moment’s consideration. It probably also occurred to him that one at
least was strikingly and unaccountably indifferent to those things to which
alone he himself attached importance. How thoroughly he mis-measured
everything we see if we consider:
MATTER OF THE LEAST IMPORTANCE. Doubtless to him that
seemed the one substantial fact in comparison with which “certain
questions of the superstition” (religion) of the Jews and of “one Jesus”
were small indeed. Now, we are only interested in Festus because of his
accidental association with these questions. But for this connection not one
in a thousand who now know something about him would have even heard
of his name. How important to each one of us seem his own personal
affairs — his income, his position, his reputation, his property! In how brief
a time will these things be as nothing — his possessions scattered, his name
forgotten, his office handed over to another! It would do us all good to be
occasionally asking of ourselves — What will be the value of the things we
prize so highly “when a few years are come”?
OF NO SLIGHT IMPORTANCE. “Certain questions of the religion” of
the Jews would seem very trivial to a Roman ruler. But we know that they
are worthy of the attention of mankind. Not only the great question of the
Jewish Messiahship, but other and inferior matters respecting sacrifices and
ordinances, have a place in our record which has outlived and will outlive
proudest dynasties and mightiest empires. Students will read and
investigate Leviticus and Deuteronomy when the annals of the empire are
disregarded. Everything which bears on our relation to God, and
everything which is even remotely related to that “one Jesus,” has an
interest which will not die.
SLIGHTINGLY ALLUDED, WAS THE DESTINED SOVEREIGN OF
THE RACE. Nothing could exceed the contemptuous indifference with
which Festus speaks of the Savior (v. 19). Nothing was further from his
thought than that this One would live forever in the honor and love of the
world. But the Stone which the Jewish builders refused has become the
Headstone of the corner, and the Prisoner whom the Roman soldiers
crowned and clothed in cruel mockery now reigns in such majesty and
wields such power as golden wreath and imperial purple will not symbolize
at all. He who was dead, and whom Paul, the prisoner, so innocently and
unaccountably “affirmed to be alive,” is now worshipped as the risen, the
reigning, the living Lord and Sovereign of mankind. How have Procurator
and Malefactor changed places! How has the first become the last, and the
last become the first! Let us:
Ø rejoice in the exaltation of our once crucified Lord;
Ø bless God for the exaltation of many of His servants, once held in
disregard or derision and afterwards honored;
Ø hope and strive for our own exaltation; for to the humblest servant of
the Savior there is the prospect of a throne of honor, a crown of glory, a
sphere of blessedness and usefulness (II Timothy 2:12; 4:8; Revelation 3:21).
22 “Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself.
To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.” And for then, Authorized Version;
I also could wish to hear for I would also hear, Authorized Version; saith for said,
Authorized Version. I also could wish (ἐβουλόμην – eboulomaen – I intended);
but the Authorized Version "I would" quite sufficiently expresses the imperfect
tense (ich wollte) and the indirect wish intended. Meyer well compares ηὐχόμην –
aeuchomaen – I wished - (Romans 9:3) and ἤθελον – aethelon – I desire; I
willed (Galatians 4:20).
Interest in the Prisoner’ for Christ (v. 22)
For the necessary accounts of Agrippa and Bernice, see the Expository
portions of this Commentary. We only dwell on Agrippa’s interest in
Paul, as giving him an opportunity to preach the gospel before kings.
Gerok gives the following outline as suggestive of a descriptive discourse,
from which general practical lessons may be drawn: — The audience-chamber
the governor at
the splendor of the assembled nobility.
the testimony made by the apostle.
of the impression produced by the apostolic discourse. The speech and its
effects will be dealt with in the succeeding chapter.
23 “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.” So for and, Authorized Version; they were for was, Authorized Version;
the principal for principal, Authorized Version; the command of Festus for
Festus commandment, Authorized Version; brought in for brought forth,
Authorized Version. With great pomp; μετὰ πολλῆς φαντασίας – meta pollaes
phantasias – with much pageantry, here only in the New Testament. In Polybius
it means "display," "show," "outward appearance," "impression," "effect," and the
like. It is of frequent use among medical writers for the outward appearance of
diseases. In Hebrews 12:21 τὸ φανταζόμενον – to phantazomenon - is "the
"an appearance," "a phantom." The place of hearing. The word ἀκροατήριον –
akroataerion - audience chamber (from ἀκροάομαι – akroaomai - to hear,
occurs only here in the New Testament. It is literally an "audience-hall," and
means sometimes a "lecture-room." Here it is apparently the hall where cases
were heard and tried before the procurator or other magistrate. Chief captains
(χιλίαρχοι – chiliarchoi – captains; thousand chiefs). Military tribunes, as
ch. 21:31, and very frequently in the Acts. Meyer notes that, as there were five
cohorts garrisoned in
At the command of Festus. These minute touches suggest that Luke was most
likely in the hall, and saw the "great pomp," and heard Festus give the order for
Paul to be brought. Brought in (ἤχθη – aechthae – was led forth); see v. 6, note.
24 “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
Saith for said, Authorized Version; behold for see, Authorized Version; made suit
to me for have dealt with me, Authorized Version; here for also here, Authorized
Version. That he ought not to live (ch. 22:22). This had evidently been repeated
by the Jews before Festus himself (v. 7), and is implied by Paul's words in v. 11.
25 “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.”
I found... I determined for when I found... I have determined, Authorized Version
and Textus Receptus; as for that, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus;
appealed for hath appealed, Authorized Version; the emperor for Augustus,
Authorized Version. Nothing worthy of death (see ch. 23:29; and compare
Luke 23:4, 15). I determined. The Authorized Version, "when I found . ..
I have determined," is hardly good grammar according to our present usage.
It should be "determined," unless "when" is equivalent to "inasmuch as." If
"when" expresses a point of past time from which the act of determining started,
the perfect is improper in modern English. The same remark applies to the next
verse, "I have brought him forth... that I might."
26 “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.” King for O king,
Authorized Version; may for might, Authorized Version. My lord (τῷ κυρίῳ -
to kurio). Suetonius tells us ('Life of Augustus,' 53) that Augustus abhorred the title
of "lord," and looked upon it as a curse and an insult when applied to himself.
Tiberius also ('Life of Tiberius,' 27), being once called "lord" (dominus) by
some one, indignantly repudiated the title. But it was frequently applied to Trajan
by Pithy, and the later emperors seem to have accepted it. It was likely to grow up
first in the East. Examination; ἀνακρίσεως – anakriseos, here only in the New
Testament; but it is found in III Maccabees 7:4 in the same sense as here, viz.
of a judicial examination (the complaint being that Jews were put to death
ἄνευ πάσης ἀνακρίσεως καὶ ἐξετάσεως); specially the precious examination
of the prisoner made for the information of the judge who was to try the case.
an action at law should be allowed. The verb ἀνακρίνω – anakrino - to examine,
etc.), and ten times in Paul's Epistles (see also Hist. of Susanna 48).
27 “For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal
to signify the crimes laid against him.” In sending... not for to send... and not,
Authorized Version; charges for crimes laid, Authorized Version. Unreasonable;
"without reason," applied to the brute creation; but found in the Septuagint of
Exodus 6:12 and Wisdom of Solomon 11:15; and also frequent in medical
writers. The opposite phrase, κατὰ λόγον – kata logon - "reasonably," in
ch. 18:14, is also of very frequent use in medical writers. Ἄλογος, ἀλόγως,
ἀλογία, are also not uncommon in Polybius, and in classical Greek generally.
The charges against him (τὰς κατ αὐτοῦ αἰτίας – tas kat autou aitias). The
technical legal term for the "accusation" or "charge" formally made against
the prisoner, and which was to form the subject of the trial
(compare Matthew 27:37; Mark 15:26)
“Audi Alteram Pattem” (vs. 13-27)
It is a noble principle (let the other side be heard as well) here ascribed by Festus
to Roman justice, never to condemn upon the accusation of any one without
giving the accused the power to face his accusers and answer for himself. English
law is so conspicuous for its fairness to prisoners that there is no need to insist
upon this maxim in regard to courts of justice. But there is great need to urge
that the same just principle should rule our private censures and judgments
upon our neighbors. It should not be the manner of Christians to believe
evil of others, still less to spread reports against them, upon one-sided
statements and undefended charges. An accused person has a right to
defend himself before he is condemned. A fair judge will suspend his
judgment till he has heard the defense. The English law is unwilling to
condemn except upon the clearest evidence of guilt. Let there be the same
unwillingness to censure a neighbor unless blame be unavoidable. Some
charges are made in malice, some in ignorance; some things are positively
false; some are true, but lose their truth by being separated from their
concomitants; some things are bad if done from one motive, but good if
done from another; an explanation may make the whole difference in the
aspect of an action. Therefore it should be a settled principle with every
just man to condemn no man unheard, even in thought, and to give every
one against whom a charge is made an opportunity of defense before the
charge is believed to his hurt, or acted upon to his prejudice. “Judge not,
and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned.”
Worldly Judgment on Religious Matters (vs. 13-27)
civil right (vs. 13-18). Herod Agrippa II, had come to pay his greeting to
the new procurator (see Josephus, ‘Life,’ § 11; and ‘
It was only after Agrippa had arrived some days, that Festus seized the
opportunity of bringing the matter before him, probably hoping, from his
acquaintance with Jewish affairs, that he would help him to a decision
concerning Paul. Festus states the rule of equity, the Roman custom of
impartiality (v. 16). He makes a parade of justice, but his secret feelings
are hardly in harmony with his profession. He wanted to be popular with
the Jews (v. 9), and was only withheld by Paul’s appeal to Caesar from
sending him to
worldly in purpose, but would act on plausible grounds and render the
show of the forms of justice.
(vs. 19-21.) The word used by him is literally, “fear of divinity,” not
necessarily conveying the contemptuous sense of “superstition.” But his
whole tone is that of contempt: “Concerning one Jesus, who had died,
whom Paul said was living.” He looks upon the turning-point of Paul’s
preaching and of his contest with the Jews as a trifling matter, unworthy
the serious consideration of educated men. And yet — apart from mere
personal opinion — how much in the history of the world has turned upon
this question! Agrippa’s family had had much to do with “this Jesus,” and
the mention of His Name is like a renewed solicitation to the heart of the
king. Festus’s bearing is that of a man who rather prides himself upon
superiority to all religious and ecclesiastical matters; and perhaps no
wonder, considering the mixture of religions in the Roman world of the
Agrippa (v. 22). He would like to listen to this remarkable prisoner, and
his story and confession of faith. And, perhaps, there was something more
than curiosity — a gleam of higher interest, a presentiment of the truth.
The next day Agrippa and his sister enter the audience-chamber of Festus
with great pomp, which is soon to pale before the simple majesty of the
Divine Word and its messenger.
CHARACTER. “Behold the man!” (v. 24; compare John 19:5).
Brought before Agrippa, as Pilate had sent Jesus to Herod (Luke 23:7). It
justly seems to the statesman unreasonable to send a prisoner without
stating the charges against him (v. 27). But statesmanship got the better
of fairness in the case of Pilate (Matthew 23:3). Unless rulers take care to
make themselves fully acquainted with the facts, the show of fairness goes
for nothing. How can a man without sympathy for conscientious
convictions in religion, judge justly of a man who professes them?
(This seems to be the shortcoming of a majority of the Justices of the
United States Supreme Court, today! - CY - 2018) Here, then, worldly
judgment is called to pronounce on facts which resist the judgment of the
world. The hall at
soon to be converted into the place of bearing of holy doctrine, and
a judgment-seat of the DIVINE MAJESTY!.
Paul in the Presence of King Agrippa (vs. 13-27)
Here was a great opportunity for the Christian character to be shown forth,
as unabashed in the presence of worldly splendors, as simple-minded
and modest, as untempted by that fear of man which bringeth a snare.
(Proverbs 29:25) It was an occasion eagerly seized by the apostle for
teaching both the heathen and the Jew, that the gospel was not a mere idle
question, or fanatical dream, or delusion, BUT A GREAT REALITY for
which he was ready to die if need be. It was a striking contrast between
the spiritually minded Jew, and an apostate and mere worldling, such as
Agrippa. This providential examination would both remove prejudice against
Paul and put the whole matter more favorably before the emperor, where mere
Jewish bigotry and intolerance would have little weight.
Power, Degeneracy, and Consecration (vs. 22-27)
That was a striking scene which is suggested to our imagination by these
verses. The sacred narrative does not, indeed, waste words on a
description of it, but it supplies enough to place the picture before our eyes
(see Farrar’s ‘Life of St. Paul,’ in loc.). (It is amazing how many of these
references can be accessed by the internet! CY – 2018) It invites our attention
to three subjects. We have:
commandment” (v. 23). The Roman procurator may not have been
present with “great pomp,” but he could afford to dispense with glitter and
show; for he had authority in his hand — he represented the power of the
world. He was a citizen of the kingdom which had “in it of the strength of
iron” (Daniel 2:41). He was a successor of another Roman who had
lately said, confidently enough, “Knowest thou not that I have power to
crucify thee, and have power to release thee?” (John 19:10). As a
Roman ruler, he felt that he held a sway over those around him, to which
they could lay no claim and which they were unable to disturb. Human
Ø Coveted by many thousands.
Ø Within the reach of very few; it is therefore continually sought and
missed, and the failure to attain it is a source of a large amount of human
disappointment and unhappiness.
Ø Much less enjoyed, when realized, than its possessor anticipated; for it
proves to be limited and checked by many things invisible from without,
but painful and irritating when discovered and endured.
Ø Soon laid down again. The breath which makes can unmake; men are
often giddy on the height and they stagger and fall; years of busy activity
quickly pass (“What is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for
a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14), and then comes
sovereign death which strikes down power beneath its feet.
Both brother and sister, Agrippa and Bernice, were instances of this.
They “saw the better thing and approved; they followed the worse.” They
“believed the prophets” (ch. 26:27); they knew the holy Law of God,
but, instead of keeping it, instead of living before God and before the world
in piety, in purity, in heavenly wisdom, they sacrificed everything to
worldly advancement, to earthly honors, and even to unholy pleasure.
How pitiable they seem to us now! That “great pomp” of theirs does but
serve to make their moral littleness the more conspicuous. To rise in outward
rank or wealth at the expense of character and by forfeiture of principle is:
Ø Grievous in the sight of God.
Ø Painful to all those whose judgment is worth regarding.
Ø A most wretched mistake, as well as a sin.
Ø An act, or series of acts, on which the agents will one day look back
with deep and terrible remorse.
“Paul was brought forth” (v. 23), he “had committed nothing worthy of
death”(v. 25), but yet “all multitude of the Jews”(v. 24) were “crying
out that he ought not to live any longer?” By his attachment to the truth
and his devotion to the cause of Jesus Christ, he had placed himself there in
captivity, charged with a capital offence, the object of the most bitter
resentment of his countrymen. He had done nothing to deserve this; he had
only taught what he honestly and rightly believed to be the very truth of
God. He accepted his position, as a persecuted witness for Christ, with
perfect resignation; he would not, on any consideration, have changed
places with that Roman judge or those Jewish magnates. Christian
Ø An admirable thing, on which the minds of the worthiest will ever
delight to dwell, lifting its subject far above the level of earthly power or
Ø Acceptable service in the estimation of Christ; to it the fullest Divine
approval and the largest share of heavenly reward are attached.
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