Acts 25 Caesarea Prison, Festus

Tod Kennedy, September 9, 2001

Main points of application or “So what?” from Acts 25

  1. Paul was a Roman citizen. He appealed to his rights as a Roman citizen many times to gain protection, freedom from unlawful imprisonment, and freedom to teach God’s word. We are citizens of the United States of America, and as citizens we have many freedoms and guaranteed rights. We, like Paul, should obey our constitutional authorities, and also use our rights of citizenship.
  2. Religious people tend to be self-righteous. They do not understand nor accept grace. Religious people emphasize themselves and what they do. Believers in Christ emphasize what God graciously has done and is doing in and through them. Do not be surprised that religious people criticize, malign, or attack you.
  3. Good works are among the opportunities, privilege, and responsibilities  that God gives to believers in Christ. God wants us live out what we believe resulting in good works. This is the normal Christian life. If we do not put our faith into action we are Christians and possesses eternal life, but our faith is not active at the present time.

Summary Outline

  1. Acts 25.1-5. In July of AD 59, Porcius Festus, who had just replaced Felix as governor of Judea, traveled to Jerusalem in order to meet with the leadership of the Jews. Paul had already spent two years in prison at Caesarea—June of 57 to July of 59. Festus’ trip was necessary since Judea was populated by Jews and he wanted to gain favor with the Jews. The Jewish leaders, of course, lost no time in trying to persuade Festus that Paul was a criminal and ought to be tried in Jerusalem. Behind this request was a plan to assassinate Paul while he was being transported. Festus refused. He told them to send some influential men to Caesarea and there they could accuse Paul.
  2. Acts 25.6-8. After about a week (8-10 days) Festus returned to Caesarea. Representatives of the Jewish Sanhedrin followed. Festus allowed the Jews to again voice their charges against Paul. The charges (Acts 25.8) were the same as had been presented to Felix: political treason (Acts 24.5), religious heresy (Acts 24.5), and temple desecration (Acts 24.6). As before, they had no proof and Paul soundly denied the charges.
  3. Acts 25.9-12. Festus wanted to start off right with the Jews, so, even though there was no proof that Paul was guilty, he tried to get Paul to go to Jerusalem to stand trial before the Sanhedrin. This would make the Jews happy; it would also put Paul in harm’s way. Festus was a novice when it came to dealing with the Jewish leaders and Paul was afraid that the Jews would sway Festus to their side. Paul took the best course available and refused to be tried at Jerusalem. He appealed to Caesar. This was the right of a Roman citizen. Roman citizens had long had the right to appeal to the people of Rome and to the emperor. By this time in history the two had merged since all power now resided with the emperor. These rights could be used at any time in the trial process. Romans had the added right to appeal a verdict before a judge or a tribune. Paul, as a Roman citizen and a Christian, took advantage of the Roman laws. Festus granted his request.
  4. Acts 25.13-21. Herod Agrippa II was the son of Herod Agrippa, the ruler whom God struck down when the people said of him “the voice of a god and not of a man!” (Acts 12), and the great grandson of Herod the Great. This petty king was much more familiar with Jewish tradition and law, so when he came to pay his respects to the new governor Festus told him what was going on, with the hope that Agrippa could help him out of the dilemma.
  5. Acts 25.22-27. Agrippa wanted to hear what Paul had to say. The day after Agrippa arrived, Festus had a hearing at which Agrippa, Bernice, and other prominent men could hear what Paul had to say. Festus hoped to find something that he could write to the emperor when he sent Paul.

Dictionary of Bible Doctrine

  1. Divine establishment and divine institutions.
  2. Faith and works in the Christian life.