Acts Chapter 25

Every once and a while, a ewe will give birth to a lamb and reject it. There are many reasons she may do this. If the lamb is returned to the ewe, the mother may even kick the poor animal away. Once a ewe rejects one of her lambs, she will never change her mind. These little lambs will hang their heads so low that it looks like something is wrong with its neck. Their spirit is broken. These lambs are called “bummer lambs.” Unless the shepherd intervenes, that lamb will die, rejected and alone. So, do you know what the shepherd does? He takes that rejected little one into his home, hand-feeds it and keep it warm by the fire. He will wrap it up with blankets and hold it to his chest so the bummer can hear his heartbeat. Once the lamb is strong enough, the shepherd will place it back in the field with the rest of the flock. But that sheep never forgets how the shepherd cared for him when his mother rejected him. When the shepherd calls for the flock, guess who runs to him first? That is right, the bummer sheep. He knows his voice intimately. It is not that the bummer lamb is loved more, it just knows intimately the one who loves it. It's not that it is loved more, it just believes it because it has experienced that love one on one. So many of us are bummer lambs, rejected and broken. But He is the good Shepherd. He cares for our every need and holds us close to His heart so we can hear His heart beat. We may be broken but we are deeply loved by the Shepherd. Author unknown

(Matthew 10:18)
And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.

(Mark 13:9)
¶ But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.

(Acts 9:15)
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

(Acts 25:1-2)
Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him,
  • He ascended up to Jerusalem going south and back down to Caesarea to the north because Jerusalem is higher in altitude than the coastal plains city of Caesarea
  • Porcius Festus ruled as procurator of Rome after Felix from 60-62 A.D.
  • Having discovered that they have a new governor coming to visit Jerusalem, the gang decides to see if this one will kill Paul for them
  • Notice the new governor did not release Paul
  • It did not take long for the same accusers to appeal to the new governor, "when Festus was come into the province, after three days". He has barely had time to rule!
  • It seems Paul is more content and patient with his continued incarceration than the Jewish leaders are in killing him!

(Acts 25:3)
And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.
  • The plot does not thicken; it merely continues, as they want him to be found guilty without a trial by the new governor ("desired favour against him")
  • Festus uncovered their plot somehow, probably by a person who squealed on the plotters
  • Failing that, the ultimate conspiracy to commit murder is to insist on Paul's release from jail to go to Jerusalem on a long trip, during which they can en masse wait for him secretly, then attack and kill him
  • A trial would reveal his innocence and they do not want that. They want him dead, not even "dead or alive"

(Acts 25:4)
But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither.
  • Perhaps he also wants a little palm greasing from Paul?
  • In the last instance, Paul's nephew revealed the plot to Paul and, eventually, his captors, but here God merely has to governor's heart in his hand and give Paul favour to stay, to protect Paul, and stay clear of their plot
  • This shows that God, if He intends, can reveal or conceal a plot or a matter against us and still decide to protect us

(Acts 25:5)
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.
  • Paul will divinely, providentially, be protected on his journey to Jerusalem, God having more work for him to do.
  • Wickedness, if true; wickedness in the accusers, if false

(Acts 25:6)
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.
  • No doubt the prosecution, having ten days opportunity to talk to the governor, will attempt to taint the trial
  • Paul has no earthly defense attorney; he does not need one

(Acts 25:7)
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.
  • They "stood round about", as in pressure, circling like sharks, predatory lions
  • So when people level things against us, they often make empty claims, hoping something will stick
  • The more complaints, the more hope of a conviction. The more grievous (causing grief, atrocious, great), the worse it looks for the defendant.
  • There is no doubt that, since Paul is harmless and innocent, a bit of exaggeration is in order here for the false accusers
  • If the claims are real, then they can prove them. If not, they cannot prove them, only level them

(Acts 25:8)
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.
  • So, after the trial, the prosecution thus far has nothing on him
  • "I am innocent on all of these charges, as I have always maintained"
  • Charges are me against my own people, and charges are me against you, all of which are false
  • Neither Festus nor the Jewish leaders would care to level a charge against Paul of anything against a "normal plebian" of either society; neither party would simply not care about any alleged harm Paul might have done against anyone else

(Acts 25:9)
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?
  • Not so surprisingly, this is the same basic treatment Paul got from the previous governor Felix, earlier
  • Festus is ever the peacekeeper with the Jewish leaders, a true politician, a negotiator, an appeaser of the rich, the famous, the powerful
  • "You can falsely accuse, convict, beat, crucify or otherwise do in Paul there, if you like!"
  • "Can I try you again in Jerusalem, Paul?"

(Acts 25:10)
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.
  • Appealing to the governor's sense of pride, Paul tells him that there is no higher seat of authority than that of Festus
  • And Paul was already tried once and found innocent, so another trial is just wrong, unnecessary for the sake of justice, only for the purpose of politics, will not serve anyone but the Jews and you, so why bother?
  • To the law! This was a citizen's right, to be appropriately judged by the one with jurisdiction

(Acts 25:11)
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.
  • Paul has no problem with getting the death penalty as a guilty man, so his stance is not out of fear
  • Paul is using the law like a defense lawyer for his own benefit, saying, "no man may deliver me unto them" and "I appeal to Caesar"

(Acts 25:12)
Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.
  • As was said before, whenever there is a council or a mob, not much good usually comes from it, and usually things bad.
  • These Jewish accusers have lost again, no dead Paul
  • It is probable that Festus knew that, looking at the blood lust in their eyes, sending Paul with them would be a death sentence, either along the way, never making it to Jerusalem, or when he got there, got his "trial" in a kangaroo court, then summarily executed.

(Acts 25:13-14)
And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus. 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:
  • The new governor may or may not be familiar to the king, but now is.
  • Kings, then as now, would often send ambassadors instead of coming themselves, but this one did no such thing, for whatever reason
  • Future business even after today is easier when people know each other
  • A few days to enjoy the city, sightsee, familiarize oneself with the leadership, governing bodies, local issues, before specific cases
  • Bernice was Herod's actual sister
  • Festus left him in bonds, even though, "he knew him to be innocent, he knew not what he did, knew not but he might fall into worse hands than he did fall into, though they were none of the best." -Matthew Henry


(Deuteronomy 17:15)
Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.


"Who the visitants were. (1.) King Agrippa, the son of that Herod (surnamed Agrippa) who killed James the apostle, and was himself eaten of worms, and great grandson of Herod the Great, under whom Christ was born. Josephus calls this Agrippa the younger; Claudius the emperor made him king of Chalcis, and tetrarch of Trachonitis and Abylene, mentioned Luke iii. 1. The Jewish writers speak of him, and (as Dr. Lightfoot tells us) among other things relate this story of him, "That reading the law publicly, in the latter end of the year of release, as was enjoined, the king, when he came to those words (Deut. xvii. 15), Thou shalt not set a stranger king over thee, who is not of thy brethren, the tears ran down his cheeks, for he was not of the seed of Israel, which the congregation observing, cried out, Be of good comfort, king Agrippa, thou art our brother; for he was of their religion, though not of their blood." (2.) Bernice came with him. She was his own sister, now a widow, the widow of his uncle Herod, king of Chalcis, after whose death she lived with this brother of hers, who was suspected to be too familiar with her, and, after she was a second time married to Polemon king of Cilicia, she got to be divorced from him, and returned to her brother king Agrippa. Juvenal (Sat. 6) speaks of a diamond ring which Agrippa gave to Bernice, his incestuous sister:-- --------------Berenices In digito factus pretiosior; hunc dedit olim
Barbarus incestæ, dedit hunc Agrippa sorori. That far-famed gem which on the finger glow'd
Of Bernice (dearer thence), bestowed
By an incestuous brother.--GIFFORD.

And both Tacitus and Suetonius speak of a criminal intimacy afterwards between her and Titus Vespasian. Drusilla, the wife of Felix, was another sister. Such lewd people were the great people generally in those times! Say not that the former days were better."

This Agrippa was Herod Agrippa II., son of Herod Agrippa I. of Acts 12:1, and great-grandson of Herod the Great. (Matthew 2:1) .

Bernice, or Berenice, was the sister of Herod Agrippa II.

(Acts 25:15)
About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.
  • "Desiring to have judgment against him", as in desperately wanting him dead as soon as possible!
  • It must be remembered always that our enemy (and enemies) never rests when we are on earth, guilty or innocent, when God is using us greatly like Paul was being used

(Acts 25:16)
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 licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.
  • It would appear here that, if this accusation against the priests and elders is true, since he told them that Paul needed to defend himself "face to face" and "have license to answer for himself", that they did not even want much of a trial with an actual defense by Paul in any way, but rather they wanted Felix or Festus to simply act upon their say so and pronounce judgment so that they could rid their world of Paul


(John 7:51)
Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?

(Acts 25:17)
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.
  • "Let me just pat myself on the back for doing my job, and that in a great way!"

(Acts 25:18)
Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed:
  • "I then tried him and he was innocent"
  • Paul is 100% guilty of preaching the Gospel about the Death, Burial and Resurrection of our Risen LORD Jesus Christ
  • The charges are that this Gospel makes "this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes: Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law." (Acts 24:5-6)
  • In man's eyes, this is cause for the death penalty. In God's eyes, it is what w are called to do, even to the point of death
  • Festus probably supposed that the reason the Jews wanted to try Paul was because Paul was perhaps considered by them to be a danger to people, or their property, either Jew or Roman, a danger to a civil society itself, to the empire
  • To Festus, this is not a case of capital punishment according to Roman law for its citizens, however anathema the Gospel is
  • If this Gospel is true, then there is no need for Judaism in the first century. If it is false, the Jews want it gone ASAP...guess which one won?

(Acts 25:19)
But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.
  • We must always remember that, to all unbelievers, especially pagans, the Resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ is a superstition
  • Could it be that, in Festus's mind, it was a case of these people mistakenly thinking this Jesus was dead when He was not, since they openly rejected and tried to prevent that Resurrection, or did Festus understand that they were talking of a real life resurrection?
  • Notice that they had "certain questions against him" and not accusations with proof and evidence against him
  • These questions further were "of their own superstitions", not legal questions, societal questions

(Acts 25:20)
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.
  • In other words, the mob screaming all of these accusations did not convince him of anything wrong with Paul or Paul's actions, but rather that the mob was filled with ravenous, rabid, emotional, hateful, false accusers

(Acts 25:21)
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.
  • "Since Paul wanted to be under our authority, judgment and jurisdiction, here ya go!"
  • This was again the appeal to a higher court is all

(Acts 25:22)
Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.
  • Up the chain of command we go, Paul in tow.
  • Agrippa most likely knows more about Paul than Festus, being familiar with the Acts of the Apostles somewhat personally, either through the news reports or second person accounts
  • Some procedural things never change as we still have appeals courts
  • What Agrippa wants to hear is legal facts regarding a case; what God wants him to hear through Paul is the Gospel (Matthew 10:18)

(Acts 25:23)
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.
  • With great pomp, meaning people of self-importance celebrating nothing other than...alas...themselves
  • This means "everybody who is somebody" in their own eyes, is there, not to just lead, but to be admired with pomp and circumstance

(Acts 25:24)
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.
  • Whenever one has "great pomp", then thy also have a mob who is really not too good, usually without exception and evidenced here by the ones calling for Paul to be executed
  • God has to be for Paul with this much opposition, or he is toast!

(Acts 25:25)
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.
  • In his first trial, Paul was found innocent.
  • When Festus says, "nothing worthy of death", does he mean that he did find things worethy of imprisonment, beatings, etc. just short of execution?

(Acts 25:26-27)
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. For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.
  • To send Paul to Nero without written charges against him would be a huge no no, as it would waste the Emperor's time and make Felix's, Festus's and Agrippa's lives miserable
  • Knowing the first century culture of paganism, debauchery, sodomy, sexual feasts, etc. Paul is guilty all right. Of believing of a way out of all of that lifestyle and culture!

(Ephesians 6:20)
For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Acts Chapter 26


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