INTERNET BIBLE STUDIES Acts Lesson 25
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Acts Chapter 25     

Memory verses for this week: 1 Tim 5:17  Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. 

Introduction:     In Chapter 24, the elders come down from Jerusalem and bring an eloquent speaker named Tertullus to bring their accusations against Paul.  He did an excellent job, and Paul spoke in his own defense and pointed out how nothing they claimed against him could be proven.  Felix later allowed Paul to come before he and his wife Drusilla where Christ was presented by Paul for their salvation.   Felix was under such great conviction that he trembled, and told Paul to go away and come back at a time when it was more convenient.  As far was we know, Felix never found that more convenient time.  We need to not fall for the trick of procrastination that Satan uses to keep the lost bound under sin.

Felix was later replaced as governor of Judea, and when he departs the office, he does the Jews a favor by leaving Paul bound in prison.

 

I.                    Paul Before Festus

 Acts 25:1  Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.

Acts 25:2  Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought 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.

 Festus is a ruler that we have little information about with the exception of what is said about him here in the bible.  The historian Josephus discussed him and said that he had a good name and was a conscientious ruler.   After only three days in office there in Caesarea, Festus goes down to Jerusalem to find out more about the people he was to rule.  We see the difference in what is presented to Festus is that no orator like Tertullus was present, but just the high priest and the chief of the Jews.   Little had changed in their hatred for Paul, as it says in verse three they sought favor that they might have Paul sent back where they could lie in wait and kill him.   If you remember, they had earlier planned to kill Paul before the Captain sent him to Felix.  It had been over two years since

Paul had been judged by Felix.

 

 Acts 24:27  But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix' room: and Felix, willing to show the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.

 

Acts 25:4  But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither.

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.

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.

 Festus showed wisdom and said that Paul would stay there at Caesarea and those that had any accusations against him should come and present them as Festus sat on the judgment seat.   Upon his return, Festus brings Paul before him.

 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.

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.

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? 

We find that the accusations are the same as when Paul stood before Felix.  Many false complaints, but no substance to them.   Nothing could be proved, and Paul states there in verse 8 that there was ďNeither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended anything at all.Ē   Festus at this point could have acquitted Paul (and should have), but rather desires to do the Jews a pleasure and asks if Paul will go back to Jerusalem to be tried.   The complaints were all grievous and unfounded, and the right thing would have been to release Paul.   But that was not what Festus did.

 II.                  Paul Appeals to Caesa

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.

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 was clear in his thinking.  He knew to agree to return to Jerusalem would mean his death, so in order to live, he appeals to Caesar.  This was all in the plan of God if you remember what God had told Ananias concerning Paul when he was saved and sent forth as an apostle unto the Gentiles. 

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 9:16  For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. 

Paul acknowledged that if he had done anything worthy of death, he was willing to die.  But if not, he appealed unto Caesar.

 Acts 25:12  Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go. 

Festus really had no alternative than to send Paul on to Rome where he would stand before Caesar.   We know God had intended for Paul to witness about Christ before many kings which he certainly did do.

 I thought J. Vernon McGeeís comments on Paulís desire to go before Caesar were very good.     ďThere are some people who think that Paul made a mistake here, that he should never have appealed to Caesar.  They think he should simply have let his case rest with Festus.  Friend, donít you see that Festus was going to use Paul for his own political ends?  Festus was going to take Paul back to Jerusalem.  Perhaps Festus was receiving bribes from the Jews how had come from Jerusalem.  I am reluctant to criticize Paul.  I donít think  that he made a mistake here.  Paul was a Roman citizen and he exercised his rights as a citizen, which was the normal and the right thing for him to do.  Going back to Jerusalem would have surely meant death for him.  He doesnít purposely make himself a martyr.  In fact, he did what he could to avoid martyrdom.  Friend, there are a people today who wear a hair shirtóand God didnít give it to them.  In other words, they like to take the position of a martyr.  Iíve had a number of people who have told me that I should rejoice that I have cancer because now I can suffer for Christ and maybe die for Christ.  Well, I can tell you, I donít feel that way about it.  I want to get rid of the cancer.  I want to live.  I think a person is depressed spiritually and mentally if he wants to put on a hair shirt and lie on a cold slab.  Martin Luther tried that and he found it didnít accomplish anything.Ē

 

I agree with Brother McGee that we should be more interested in living for the Lord than to die for Him.  But if our lot in life is to die, we sure should accept it and go forth willingly.   Only by Godís grace can we have the faith to do that.  Paul told the Corinthian church to do everything they did for the glory of God.

 

1 Cor 10:31  Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Cor 10:32  Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:

1 Cor 10:33  Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

The one thing we know about Paul was he was a man who could deal with whatever situation presented itself.   We donít read letters where he complains about the tough times upon him, he just acknowledges what is happening and goes on knowing that God knew all about it.   I think we would all be better Christians if we could reach this high level of faith like Paul. 

Phil 4:9  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Phil 4:10  But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity.

Phil 4:11  Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Phil 4:12  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

Phil 4:13  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

 

III.  Festus and Agrippa 

Acts 25:13  And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.

Acts 25:14  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:

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. 

Since the case was taken out of the hands of the Sanhedrin and Festus, Paul must not be sent on to Rome at the first opportunity.   Festus would send him and the papers concerning his case to Caesar.   Since they had to go by sailing ship, it took planning and time to find one to send Paul.  Whey they were waiting for a ship, King Agrippa II came down to visit the new governor with his sister Bernice.   Festus decided to take this opportunity to law out the case before King Agrippa and see what he had to say about it.   King Agrippa was the last King of the Jews and he had great power and influence.   He had charge of all the Temple officers and also the power to appoint the high priest.   If Festus could get his ruling on Paul, this would no doubt greatly disarm any opposition the Jews had on him.

 

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.

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.

Acts 25:18  Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed:

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.

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.

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.

 

Festus relates the whole story about Paul to King Agrippa.  He explains how the charges were not brought forth that he expected, but seemed to all stem around the fact of one man named Jesus whom that Paul said was still alive.  It seemed to him superstition was what it was all about.   I believe this really touched King Agrippa, and we see that he asks to hear Paul himself. 

Acts 25:22  Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.

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.

 

Festus brings Paul out before both King Agrippa, his sister, and the chief captains and principal men of the city.   John Calvin commented that perhaps King Agrippa thought he might gain something from hearing what Paul had to say.  He certainly could have if he would have believed what Paul speaks.  But perhaps this gathering was done to strengthen the believers in the churches.  Godís providence is so un-searchable and he accomplishes things in ways and manners that we donít usually understand.   But for Paul to have such an audience and to speak with power and authority from on high, it had to encourage the other believers.   It encourages me even to this day.

 

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.

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.

Acts 25:26  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.

Acts 25:27  For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.

 Festus declares that the Jews had stated that Paul ought not to live.   But in his trial, Festus found nothing wrong in Paulís life that was worthy of death.  So he comes before Agrippa that he might examine him and that Festus could write his findings to Caesar.   It would not be reasonable to send forth a prisoner without a clear definition of the crimes that he was accused.  The Roman law required that when a man was sent to Rome on appeal, all the papers relating to the case should be sent, and all the testimony that had been taken, and a clear statement made by the one who sent him concerning the accusation. 

 

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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

 

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