Acts 25



1 “Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended

from Caesarea to Jerusalem.”  Festus therefore having come for now when Festus

was come, Authorized Version; went up for he ascended, Authorized Version;

to Jerusalem from Casarea for from Caesarea to Jerusalem, 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 Jerusalem,

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 Rome to appeal to Nero about the wall which the Jews had built to screen

the temple from being overlooked, and which Agrippa had ordered to be pulled

down; and being detained at Rome as a hostage, he was succeeded in the high

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 Rome. Informed him

(ἐνεφάνισαν -  enephanisan - disclosed); see ch. 24:1, note. The principal men of

the Jews (οἱ πρῶτοι – hoi protoithe foremost ones). In v. 15 Festus speaks of

them as οἱ πρεσβύτεροι – hoi presbuteroithe 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 Caesarea-  οἱ πρωτεύοντες τῶν Ἰουδαίων – hoi proteuontes

ton Ioudaion - ('Ant. Jud.,' 20. 8:9).


3 “And desired favor against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem,

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 Jerusalem court, where the

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,

as Paul was now at Caesarea, he would return thither almost immediately,

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 Caesarea, and that he

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 Caesarea, but his determination to keep him there till

he could go down and try him. The Authorized Version gives the meaning.

Either μὲν – Ho men – the indeed -  is to be understood, as if Festus should say,

"Paul is a Roman citizen; Caesarea is the proper place for him to be tried at before

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

be kept."


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 οἱ δυνατοί ('Bell. Jud.,' 1. 12:4), etc.

(see I Corinthians 1:26; Revelation 6:15; and the passages from Thucydides,

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

unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded

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

achthaenaito be led forth). The technical word for bringing a prisoner

before the judge (ch. 6:12;  18:12; Luke 21:12; 23:1, etc.).


7 “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.”  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; αἰτιάματαaitiamata, 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:


  1. there are times in a man’s life when he is called upon to make a full

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:


  1. there are times in life when a man should attempt no defense, but stand

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




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 “Jerusalem;” and that

nevertheless to consent to go, and to choose to go, to Caesar, to Rome,

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:


  • THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF INNOCENCE. It is not infrequently the

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



  • CHRISTIAN PATIENCE. The Christian soldier, racer, workman, must

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)


  • CHRISTIAN WISDOM. The true apostle, of whatever day, will

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

to Caesar.


  • CHRISTIAN DUTY. There yet awaited Paul some of the grandest

opportunities of usefulness, all along the way to Rome and in Rome. His

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.


  • THE SPIRIT’S OWN GUIDANCE. Already we have once heard that

Paul was assured by the angel of the Lord, who stood by him at night, that

at Rome also” (ch. 23:11) he should bear testimony to Jesus, as he had at

Jerusalem.  It is an infinite satisfaction to the heart’s uncertainty, to the

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 Jerusalem to be tried, under the security

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:


  • PAUL’S SAFETY AS A ROMAN. Explain the privileges of Roman

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.


  • PAUL’S RIGHT AS A ROMAN PRISONER. A right of appeal

from any inferior to the supreme court at Rome over which the emperor

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

reach. And:


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

this appeal Providence opened the way for what seemed to be an unlikely,

and indeed almost an impossible, thing, that Paul should see Rome, and

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 Rome for trial" ('Epist.,' 10:97). Festus, though,

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 Jerusalem, had it been possible.



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 Europe where the apostle preached

the gospel, from the first outbreak of it at Damascus to the last conspiracy

against him at Corinth (ch. 9:23; 20:3), we notice the allusion to its

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

Jerusalem, they followed him to Caesarea. They hired an advocate to vilify

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 Caesarea to try what

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



  • CONSTANCY IN THE DEFENSE OF RIGHT. Let us view this in



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.


  • THE APPEAL TO THE EMPEROR. Some general allegorical lessons

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,

partly Paul’s, and above all, that of Providence. So in our own life-crises.

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 came unto Caesarea to

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 Herod

Agrippa I. (ch.12.), and consequently brother of Drusilla (ch. 24:24). He was only

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

high priest, and who built the palace at Jerusalem which overlooked the temple,

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; ἀσπασόμενοιaspasomenoi - 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

and pay his respects to the new Roman governor at Caesarea.


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, πλείουςpleious - 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 Παῦλονanetheto ta kata ton Paulonsubmitted 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 Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the

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

(vs. 1-16)


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 Jerusalem (v. 3), he would have fallen a victim to

their murderous machinations. Then the Church of Christ would never

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 aitiancharge they

brought on, answers to the Latin legal phrase, crimen inferre (Cicero, 'Contr.

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

zaetaemata - questions); ch.15:2;  18:15;  23:29, etc. Religion (δεισιδαιμονία

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:


  • WHEREIN PAUL’S ACCUSERS FAILED. They could not prove any

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      innocent,

Ø      accepted,

Ø      Divine,

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:




SUCH KNOWLEDGE. Presumably, Festus had not the slightest

inclination to speak slightingly to Agrippa of the religion of the Jews of

Jerusalem. But nevertheless his tone is that of a man who speaks of what is

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

for BREAD!




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 Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters.”  I, being

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 ζητήματα zaetaemataquestions - 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,

etc. (John 3:25; I Timothy 1:4;  6:4; II Timothy 2:23; Titus 3:9), in which Festus felt

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 aporoumaibeing 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 τούτουperi toutou -  concerning this,

either understand πράγματος pragmatosmatter; 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;

διαγνῶσινdiagnosin - 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 ('Ant. Jud.,' 15. 3:8). For the verb

διαγινώσκω diaginosko - , see ch. 23:15; 24:22, notes. The emperor

(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:




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.




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 eboulomaenI intended);

but the Authorized Version "I would" quite sufficiently expresses the imperfect

tense (ich wollte) and the indirect wish intended. Meyer well compares ηὐχόμην

aeuchomaenI wished - (Romans 9:3) and ἤθελονaethelonI 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

of the governor at Caesarea may be regarded from three points of view:



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 φαντασίαςmeta pollaes

phantasiaswith 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

appearance," and φάντασμα phantasma -  (Matthew 14:26; Mark 6:49) is

"an appearance," "a phantom." The place of hearing. The word ἀκροατήριον

akroataerion -  audience chamber (from ἀκροάομαι akroaomai -  to hear,

whence ἀκροάτης akroataes - hearer, Romans 2:13; James 1:22-23, 25)

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 chiliarchoicaptains; thousand chiefs). Military tribunes, as

ch. 21:31, and very frequently in the Acts. Meyer notes that, as there were five

cohorts garrisoned in Caesarea, there would be five chiliarchs, or tribunes.

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 (ἤχθηaechthaewas 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 Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer.”

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.

At Athens the ἀνάκρισις was a preliminary examination held to decide whether

an action at law should be allowed. The verb ἀνακρίνωanakrino - to examine,

occurs six times in the Gospel of Luke and the Acts (Luke 23:14; Acts 4:9; 12:19,

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;

ἄλογον alogonunrational; illogical, only in II Peter 2:12 and Jude 1:10,

"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 λόγονkata 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)


  • ITS SHORT-SIGHTEDNESS. It sees no further than the principles of

civil right (vs. 13-18). Herod Agrippa II, had come to pay his greeting to

the new procurator (see Josephus, ‘Life,’ § 11; and ‘Bell. Jud.,’ 2:1).

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 Jerusalem. Festus would trim his sails to the wind. He is

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



  • ITS IDLE CURIOSITY. This is represented by the hearing of

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 Caesarea is the scene of pompous worldly display,

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

power is:


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

consecration is:


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

worldly dignity.

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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