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Paul Appeals to the Emperor


Three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem 2where the chief priests and the leaders of the Jews gave him a report against Paul. They appealed to him 3and requested, as a favor to them against Paul, to have him transferred to Jerusalem. They were, in fact, planning an ambush to kill him along the way. 4Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea, and that he himself intended to go there shortly. 5“So,” he said, “let those of you who have the authority come down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them accuse him.”

6 After he had stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea; the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. 7When he arrived, the Jews who had gone down from Jerusalem surrounded him, bringing many serious charges against him, which they could not prove. 8Paul said in his defense, “I have in no way committed an offense against the law of the Jews, or against the temple, or against the emperor.” 9But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, asked Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and be tried there before me on these charges?” 10Paul said, “I am appealing to the emperor’s tribunal; this is where I should be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you very well know. 11Now if I am in the wrong and have committed something for which I deserve to die, I am not trying to escape death; but if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can turn me over to them. I appeal to the emperor.” 12Then Festus, after he had conferred with his council, replied, “You have appealed to the emperor; to the emperor you will go.”

Festus Consults King Agrippa

13 After several days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to welcome Festus. 14Since they were staying there several days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying, “There is a man here who was left in prison by Felix. 15When I was in Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me about him and asked for a sentence against him. 16I told them that it was not the custom of the Romans to hand over anyone before the accused had met the accusers face to face and had been given an opportunity to make a defense against the charge. 17So when they met here, I lost no time, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought. 18When the accusers stood up, they did not charge him with any of the crimes that I was expecting. 19Instead they had certain points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, but whom Paul asserted to be alive. 20Since I was at a loss how to investigate these questions, I asked whether he wished to go to Jerusalem and be tried there on these charges. 21But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of his Imperial Majesty, I ordered him to be held until I could send him to the emperor.” 22Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” he said, “you will hear him.”

Paul Brought before Agrippa

23 So on the next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp, and they entered the audience hall with the military tribunes and the prominent men of the city. Then Festus gave the order and Paul was brought in. 24And Festus said, “King Agrippa and all here present with us, you see this man about whom the whole Jewish community petitioned me, both in Jerusalem and here, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25But I found that he had done nothing deserving death; and when he appealed to his Imperial Majesty, I decided to send him. 26But I have nothing definite to write to our sovereign about him. Therefore I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that, after we have examined him, I may have something to write— 27for it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner without indicating the charges against him.”

18. They laid no such crime to his charge. I marvel why Festus doth say, that there was no such crime objected to Paul as he supposed, seeing he was accused of sedition; but we may again conjecture by this, yea, plainly know, that their accusations were so vain, that they ought not to have been brought before the judgment-seat; as if a man did utter a slanderous speech unadvisedly. For which cause he saith, that the state of the cause did consist in questions of the law. Therefore, we see that he putteth a difference between those offenses which were wont to be punished by man’s laws, and the controversy which was between Paul and the Jews; not that the religion ought to be corrupted freely, 605605     “Impune violari.” he violated with impunity. or that their malapertness is tolerable, who overthrow the worship of God with their own inventions; but because the man being a Roman, cared not for Moses’ law; therefore he speaketh so disdainfully when he saith, that they did strive about their superstition; though this word δεισιδαιμονια be taken of the Grecians, as well in good as evil part; to wit, because the worshipping of false gods was common in all places. Notwithstanding, his meaning is, that he careth not what manner of religion the Jews have. And no marvel if a man which was an ethnic, [heathen] and had not learned that the rule of godliness must be fet [sought] from the mouth of God, know not how to distinguish between the pure worship of God and superstitions.

Wherefore, we must hold fast that mark whereby we may discern the one from the other, that there is no godliness but that which is grounded in the knowledge of faith, lest we grabble [grope] in darkness. Moreover, the Romans were so drunken with prosperous success, that they thought that they were more acceptable to God than any other; as at this day the Turks, by reason of their manifold victories, deride the doctrine of Christ. This was a lamentable case, that a man being an unbeliever and idolater, sitteth as judge amidst the Jews, to give judgment of the sacred oracles of God according to his ignorance, but all the fault was in Paul’s adversaries, who did not care for the majesty of God, so they might satisfy and obey their own madness. Notwithstanding, there rested nothing for Paul to do, but to clear himself of those crimes which were laid against him. So at this day, though inward brawls, which are among Christians, do defame the name of Christ and his gospel among the Turks and Jews, yet the defenders of holy doctrine are unworthily blamed, which are enforced to enter the combat.

Of one Jesus. It is not to be doubted but that Paul intreated, both gravely and with such vehemency as became him, of the resurrection of Christ; but Festus, by reason of his pride, thought it no meet matter for him to occupy his head about. He doth not, indeed, openly deride Paul, but he showeth plainly how negligently he heard him when he disputed of Christ. Whereby we see how little preaching availeth, yea, that it availeth nothing at all, unless the Spirit of God do inwardly touch the hearts of men. For the wicked do lightly pass over whatsoever is spoken, as if a man should tell them a tale of Robin Hood. 606606     “Acsi quis fabulas narraret,” as if one were telling them fables. Wherefore, there is no cause why the carelessness of many should trouble us at this day, seeing Paul prevailed nothing with Festus. But this place doth witness that many speeches did pass in the handling of the matter, whereof Luke maketh no mention. For he had spoken nothing as yet of Christ, and yet this latter narration doth show that Paul intreated seriously before the Jews of his death and resurrection. Which could not be, but he must needs intreat of the principal points of the gospel. Therefore, I guess that Paul did so handle the matter, that when he had refuted the false accusations of the Jews, wherewith they went about to burden him before the governor, having gotten a fit occasion, he began afterward to speak freely of Christ.

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