The events of this chapter are tightly connected with chapter 26, setting the “courtroom” scene for Paul’s testimony that would then be given. Festus now ruled in place of Felix (24:27) and so made a short trip to Jerusalem (v. 1; “went up” describes the change in elevation, as Jerusalem is higher in altitude than Caesarea). The Jews sought to manipulate Felix to ambush and murder Paul, but Festus refused as he did not plan on staying long in Jerusalem (vv. 2-5).
The Jews arrived in Caesarea and again made baseless accusations (vv. 6-7) which Paul summarily denied (v. 8). Sadly, Festus was less committed to true justice and more committed to gaining good political standing with the Jews at Paul’s expense (v. 9). Paul thus exercised his right as a Roman citizen to appeal to Caesar for justice (vv. 10-12).
Festus, however, had nothing substantial to tell Caesar why Paul would appear before him, and so appealed to Agrippa for help (Festus and Agrippa were equals, similar to state governors). Festus knew nothing about the Jewish/Christian religions, whereas Agrippa was part-Jew and had a better understanding of things. Festus first privately informed Agrippa of Paul (vv. 13-22) and then publicly presented Paul to Agrippa (vv. 23-27).
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- God established human government to protect good citizens and judge the wicked (Rom 13:4). However, as human governors are sinful there will be injustice so that the good are punished and the wicked released. Overall, Christians must be subject to governing authorities (Rom 13:1-7) and pray that the Lord works through them for Christian living and ministry (1 Tim 2:1-7).
- Christians can use their rights as citizens for the cause of Christ and righteousness. Paul did so here, and God providentially used Jews, Romans, and faithful Paul to bring the gospel to Rome. Jesus was fulfilling his Word! (9:15; 23:11)