There are rumors that a large sum of money is at Paul’s disposal—that is, the relief offering for the church in Jerusalem. But Paul does not choose to buy his freedom. Despite the corruption of the government, Paul understands that ultimately his justice is in the hands of God. In the near future, he will appear before the government of Rome, and that encounter will likely lead to his death.
25 Three days after arriving in the province, Festus traveled south from Caesarea to Jerusalem. 2-3 The chief priests and Jewish leaders still had a plan to kill Paul and gave a report to Festus about their unresolved grievances against Paul. They suggested that as a favor to them, Festus should move Paul to Jerusalem. Of course, this was part of the plan to set an ambush for Paul and kill him en route. 4 Festus instead offered to reopen the case. He would be going back to Caesarea soon.
Festus: 5 So let your leaders accompany me, and bring your accusations against the man.
6 Eight or ten days later, Festus returned to Caesarea, and the next day he took his seat in court. He ordered Paul to be brought before him. 7 The Jewish opponents from Jerusalem immediately surrounded Paul and from all directions bombarded him with all sorts of serious charges, none of which could be proven.
Paul (quietly and simply): 8 In no way have I committed any offense against Jewish law, against the Jewish temple and all it represents, or against the emperor.
9 Here Festus saw an opportunity to do just the favor Paul’s Jewish opponents had requested.
Festus: Would you like to have your trial in Jerusalem? I’d be willing to try your case there.
Paul: 10-11 If I had committed a capital offense, I would accept my punishment. But I’m sure it’s clear to you that I have done no wrong to the Jews. Since their charges against me are completely empty, it would be wrong to turn me over to them. No, I do not wish to go to Jerusalem. I am appealing to the court of the emperor in Rome.
12 Festus conferred privately with his council and returned with this decision:
Festus: You have appealed to the emperor, so to the emperor you will go.
13 Several days later, the provincial king Agrippa arrived in Caesarea with his wife Bernice to welcome the new governor. 14 Their visit lasted several days, which gave Festus the chance to describe Paul’s case to the king.
Festus: Felix left me some unfinished business involving a prisoner named Paul. 15 When I was in Jerusalem, I got an earful about him from the chief priests and Jewish elders. They wanted me simply to decide against him, 16 but I informed them that we Romans don’t work that way. We don’t condemn a person accused of a crime unless the accusers present their case in person so the accused has ample opportunity to defend himself against the charge. 17 I arranged for them to come here for a proper hearing. In fact, the first day after I returned to Caesarea, I took my seat in court and heard his case without delay. 18 Contrary to my expectations, the accusers brought no substantial charges against him at all. 19 Instead, they were bickering about their own religious beliefs related to a fellow named Jesus, who had died, but whom Paul claimed was raised to life again. 20 I had no idea how to handle a religious squabble pretending to be a legal case, so I suggested Paul be taken to Jerusalem so he could be tried on Jewish turf, so to speak. 21 But Paul refused, and instead he appealed to be kept in custody so the case could be referred to his Imperial Majesty. So I have held him until we can arrange to send him to the emperor.
Agrippa: 22 This sounds interesting. I’d like to hear this fellow in person.
Festus: You will, then. We’ll bring him in tomorrow.
23 The next day, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at the great hall with great formality, accompanied by the military commanders and the city’s leading men. Festus ordered Paul to be brought before them.
Festus: 24 King Agrippa and all our honored guests, here is the man who has been charged with wrongdoing by the Jewish community—both in Jerusalem and here. They yelled for his execution, 25 but I found him guilty of no capital offense. Then he appealed to our Imperial Majesty, so I have agreed that he will be sent to Rome. 26-27 Here is where I need your help. I can’t send a man to our emperor without a letter logically detailing the charges against him, but I have no idea what to write. So, King Agrippa, and all of you honored guests, I’m requesting your help in determining what to write in my letter to the emperor.