Acts of Apostles 25:1-27

25  Therefore Festus,+ after arriving in the province and taking charge, went up three days later to Jerusalem from Caes·a·reʹa.  And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews gave him information against Paul.+ So they began to beg Festus  as a favor* to send for Paul to come to Jerusalem. But they were planning to ambush Paul and kill him along the road.+  However, Festus answered that Paul was to be kept in Caes·a·reʹa and that he himself was about to go back there shortly.  “So let those who are in power among you,” he said, “come down with me and accuse him if, indeed, the man has done something wrong.”+  So when he had spent not more than eight or ten days among them, he went down to Caes·a·reʹa, and the next day he sat down on the judgment seat and commanded Paul to be brought in.  When he came in, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing against him many serious charges that they were unable to prove.+  But Paul said in defense: “Neither against the Law of the Jews nor against the temple nor against Caesar have I committed any sin.”+  Festus, desiring to gain favor with the Jews,+ said in reply to Paul: “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and be judged before me there concerning these things?” 10  But Paul said: “I am standing before the judgment seat of Caesar, where I ought to be judged. I have done no wrong to the Jews, of which you are also becoming well-aware. 11  If I am really a wrongdoer and have committed anything deserving of death,+ I do not beg off from dying; but if there is no substance to the accusations these men have made against me, no man has the right to hand me over to them as a favor. I appeal to Caesar!”+ 12  Then Festus, after speaking with the assembly of counselors, replied: “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you will go.” 13  After some days had passed, A·gripʹpa the king and Bernice arrived in Caes·a·reʹa for a courtesy visit to Festus. 14  Since they were spending a number of days there, Festus presented Paul’s case to the king, saying: “There is a man who was left as a prisoner by Felix,+ 15  and when I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought information about him,+ asking for a judgment of condemnation against him. 16  But I replied to them that it is not Roman procedure to hand any man over as a favor before the accused man meets his accusers face-to-face and gets a chance to speak in his defense concerning the complaint.+ 17  So when they arrived here, I did not delay, but the next day I sat down on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in. 18  Taking the stand, the accusers did not charge him with any of the wicked things I had expected concerning him.+ 19  They simply had certain disputes with him concerning their own worship of the deity*+ and concerning a man named Jesus, who was dead but who Paul kept asserting was alive.+ 20  Being at a loss as to how to handle this dispute, I asked if he would like to go to Jerusalem and be judged there concerning these matters.+ 21  But when Paul appealed to be kept in custody for the decision by the August One,+ I commanded him to be held until I should send him on to Caesar.” 22  A·gripʹpa then said to Festus: “I would like to hear the man myself.”+ “Tomorrow,” he said, “you will hear him.” 23  So the next day A·gripʹpa and Bernice came with much pompous show and entered the audience chamber together with military commanders as well as the prominent men in the city; and when Festus gave the command, Paul was brought in. 24  And Festus said: “King A·gripʹpa and all you who are present with us, you see this man about whom the whole Jewish populace have petitioned me both in Jerusalem and here, shouting that he ought not to live any longer.+ 25  But I perceived that he had done nothing deserving of death.+ So when this man himself appealed to the August One, I decided to send him. 26  But I have nothing certain to write about him to my Lord. So I brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King A·gripʹpa, so that after the judicial examination has taken place, I might have something to write. 27  For it seems unreasonable to me to send a prisoner and not also to indicate the charges against him.”

Footnotes

Lit., “asking a favor against him.”
Or “their own religion.”

Study Notes

the province: That is, the Roman province of Judea, with Caesarea serving as the governor’s residence. The Greek expression rendered arriving in . . . and taking charge is understood to refer to Festus’ taking up his office as governor in the province.

Caesar: Or “the Emperor.” The Roman emperor during Jesus’ earthly ministry was Tiberius, but the term was not restricted to the ruling emperor. “Caesar” could refer to the Roman civil authority, or the State, and its duly appointed representatives, who are called “the superior authorities” by Paul, and “the king” and his “governors” by Peter.​—Ro 13:1-7; 1Pe 2:13-17; Tit 3:1; see Glossary.

Caesar: Or “the Emperor.” The Roman emperor at this time was Claudius, who ruled from 41 to 54 C.E.​—Ac 11:28; 18:2; see study note on Mt 22:17 and Glossary.

Caesar: Or “the Emperor.” The Roman emperor at this time was Nero. His rule began in 54 C.E. and ended in 68 C.E. when he committed suicide at about the age of 31. All references to Caesar in Acts chapters 25 through 28 apply to Nero.​—See study notes on Mt 22:17; Ac 17:7 and Glossary.

we are Romans: That is, Roman citizens. Paul and apparently also Silas were Roman citizens. Roman law stated that a citizen was always entitled to a proper trial and was never to be punished in public uncondemned. Roman citizenship entitled a person to certain rights and privileges wherever he went in the empire. A Roman citizen was subject to Roman law, not to the laws of provincial cities. When accused, he could agree to be tried according to local law; yet, he still retained the right to be heard by a Roman tribunal. In the case of a capital offense, he had the right to appeal to the emperor. The apostle Paul preached extensively throughout the Roman Empire. He made use of his rights as a Roman citizen on three recorded occasions. The first is here in Philippi when he informed the Philippian magistrates that they had infringed on his rights by beating him.​—For the other two occasions, see study notes on Ac 22:25; 25:11.

a Roman: That is, a Roman citizen. This is the second of three recorded instances in which Paul made use of his rights as a Roman citizen. Roman authorities usually interfered little in Jewish affairs. However, the Romans got involved in Paul’s case not only because a riot erupted when he visited the temple but also because he was a Roman citizen. Citizenship afforded a person certain privileges that were recognized and honored throughout the empire. It was illegal, for example, to bind or beat an uncondemned Roman, since such treatment was considered fit for slaves only.​—For the other two occasions, see study notes on Ac 16:37; 25:11.

I appeal to Caesar!: In the Bible record, this is the third time that Paul made use of his rights as a Roman citizen. (For the other two occasions, see study notes on Ac 16:37; 22:25.) Such an appeal to Caesar could be made either after the pronouncement of judgment or at any earlier point in the trial. Festus gave evidence of not wanting to decide the matter himself, and a trial in Jerusalem held virtually no hope of justice. So Paul made this formal petition to be judged by the highest court of the empire. It appears that in some cases the appeal could be denied, for example, in the case of a thief, a pirate, or a seditionist caught in the act. Likely for this reason, Festus conferred with “the assembly of counselors” before admitting the appeal. (Ac 25:12) The subsequent hearing with the visiting Herod Agrippa II was held in order that Festus might have clearer information to submit when transmitting Paul’s case to “the August One,” Nero. (Ac 25:12-27; 26:32; 28:19) Paul’s appeal also served the purpose of taking him to Rome, fulfilling an intention expressed earlier. (Ac 19:21) Jesus’ prophetic promise to Paul as well as the angelic message that he later received shows divine direction in the matter.​—Ac 23:11; 27:23, 24.

Agrippa: That is, Herod Agrippa II. He was the great-grandson of Herod the Great and the son of Herod Agrippa I and his wife Cypros.​—Ac 12:1; see Glossary, “Herod.”

Bernice: The sister of Herod Agrippa II but living incestuously with him. She later became the mistress of Titus before he became Roman emperor.

elders: Lit., “older men.” In the Bible, the Greek term pre·sbyʹte·ros refers primarily to those who hold a position of authority and responsibility in a community or a nation. Although the term sometimes refers to physical age (as at Lu 15:25; Ac 2:17), it is not limited to those who are elderly. Here it refers to the leaders of the Jewish nation who are often mentioned together with chief priests and scribes. The Sanhedrin was made up of men from these three groups.​—Mt 21:23; 26:3, 47, 57; 27:1, 41; 28:12; see Glossary, “Elder; Older man.”

elders: Here referring to leaders of the Jewish nation who are often mentioned together with chief priests and scribes.​—See study note on Mt 16:21.

Caesar: Or “Emperor.” The Greek word Kaiʹsar corresponds to the Latin term Caesar. (See Glossary.) The name Augustus, a Latin word meaning “August One,” was first given by the Roman Senate as a title to Gaius Octavius, the first Roman emperor, in the year 27 B.C.E. He thus became known as Caesar Augustus. His decree resulted in Jesus’ being born in Bethlehem, in fulfillment of Bible prophecy.​—Da 11:20; Mic 5:2.

the August One: A title for the Roman emperor. The Greek word Se·ba·stosʹ means “worthy of reverence; revered; august” and is a translation of the Latin title Augustus. Some translations use such expressions as “His Majesty the Emperor” or “His Imperial Majesty.” In this case, it is the title of Caesar Nero (54-68 C.E.), the fourth in succession from Octavian (Octavius), who first held this title.​—See study note on Lu 2:1.

Media

Caesar Nero
Caesar Nero

This gold coin, minted about 56-57 C.E., shows a bust of Nero, who ruled the Roman Empire from 54 to 68 C.E. Nero was the Caesar to whom Paul appealed after his unjust arrest in Jerusalem and subsequent incarceration in Caesarea from about 56 to about 58 C.E. It appears that after Paul was first imprisoned in Rome, about 59 C.E., he was pronounced innocent and released about 61 C.E. However, in 64 C.E. a fire destroyed a quarter of the city of Rome, and some blamed Nero for the disaster. To deflect suspicion, Nero accused the Christians, prompting a wave of violent persecution by the government. It is likely that about this time (65 C.E.), Paul was imprisoned in Rome for the second time and was executed thereafter.