Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 25:6-12
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 25:6-8
vs6-7: No more than eight or ten days later Festus returned to Caesarea. The representatives of the Sanhedrin must have accompanied him because the day after he arrived he went into his courtroom and sat down on the judgment seat (bema). He ordered Paul to be brought in, and when he arrived the religious leaders actually came up and stood around him. Then they presented the formal charges against him which they had brought with them from Jerusalem. Their list included many serious accusations, none of which they were able to prove. v8: Speaking in his own defense, Paul said, “I have not sinned in any way against the Law of the Jews, nor against the Temple, nor against Caesar.” Though Luke doesn’t mention any of the specific charges, Paul’s response reveals that they must have accused him of blasphemy, violating the Temple (by bringing in Gentiles) and some sort of sedition against Caesar, probably because Paul declared Jesus to be Lord.

Monday: Acts 25:9
v9: If the Jewish authorities had been able to convince the governor that Paul had really violated their temple restrictions, Festus might have handed Paul over to them to be judged by the Sanhedrin, but they could provide no such proof. Among the charges presented there must have been accusations that Paul committed crimes against the Roman emperor. From a Roman perspective that charge was far more serious than the religious violations that concerned the Jews. That charge, if proved, took Paul out of their jurisdiction and made this case a matter of Roman law. Apparently, in their zeal, the Jewish authorities had accused Paul of everything they could think of, and in doing so, had made a mistake. They accidentally crossed a line and made charges which only a Roman court could decide (F.F. Bruce, Acts, Eerdmans, 1974, p.477 footnote).

Tuesday: Acts 25:9
v9 (continued): Festus had replaced Felix because of complaints made against Felix by Jewish leaders, so he didn’t want to begin his new assignment by arousing their anger. He also seems unaware of the fact that these religious leaders had tried to arrange for Paul’s murder (Ac 23:12-15). Their proposal to move the trial to Jerusalem seemed harmless. He would still serve as Paul’s judge, in order to give the appearance of fairness, but by giving into their request he might gain some political support. Hopefully they would be less likely to file complaints against him than they had against Felix. If Festus actually suspected that Paul had committed a crime against Caesar he would have acted immediately. In effect, by suggesting that Paul go to Jerusalem, he was saying, “He isn’t guilty, as far as Rome is concerned, but I’m willing to let the Sanhedrin try to prove that he committed a religious crime worthy of death.”

Wednesday: Acts 25:9-10
v9 (continued): When Paul declared his innocence Festus responded by asking, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem to be judged before me there concerning these things?” His question exposed his attitude. There was simply no reason why he could not have made a decision based on the information he already had. Judging Jewish religious matters wasn’t part of his assignment. Yet he was proposing that he would sit as Paul’s judge in such a trial. While trying to appear impartial, he was obviously more interested in gaining political advantage for himself than ensuring that Paul received justice. v10: Paul knew why these leaders wanted his trial moved to Jerusalem. He knew he wouldn’t survive the trip. Though he was quite ready to die for Jesus (Ac 21:13), there was nothing to be gained by allowing himself to be meaninglessly murdered.

Thursday Acts 25:10
v10 (continued): Paul was convinced Festus would overrule any objection he might make to the location of the trial, and would order him to be transferred to Jerusalem. Once that verdict was announced the trial would be over, and it would be too late for an appeal. So his answer to Felix’s question would be his only chance to escape the plot against his life. As a Roman citizen, he had a right to appeal that this life-or-death case be conducted in Rome, and his verdict be announced by the emperor. One of the most precious rights given to a Roman citizen was stated in a law which “forbade any magistrate vested with imperium (rule) or potestas (power) to kill, scourge, chain or torture a Roman citizen, or even to sentence him (“in the face of an appeal”), or prevent him from going to Rome to lodge his appeal there within a fixed time” (F.F. Bruce, Acts, Eerdmans, 1974, p.363).

Friday: Acts 25:10
v10 (continued): A Roman citizen had the right to make this appeal at any stage in their trial by formally stating, “I appeal to Caesar” (Caesarem appello). And if that person indeed had the right to make that claim, the judge would announce, “You have appealed to Caesar, unto Caesar you shall go” (Caesarem appellasti; ad Caesarem ibis) (G. Campbell Morgan, Acts, Revall, 1924, p.511). Realizing that his life was in danger and Festus did not have the courage to give him justice, Paul announced, “I am standing before Caesar’s judgment seat (bema) where I ought to be judged, because I have committed no crime against the Jews, as you, indeed, know better [than you are willing to admit]” (Ac 25:18-20).

Saturday: Acts 25:11-12
v11: “If I am someone who has committed a crime and have done anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die, but, if not one of these things of which they accuse me [is true], no one can give me to them as a favor. I appeal to Caesar!” v12: Then Festus, after talking with his own council of advisors, granted to Paul his right of appeal. On one hand, it must have been a relief to Festus to have this case moved out of his jurisdiction, but on the other hand, it had the potential to become an embarrassment for the governor. Rome would quickly recognize that Paul was not guilty of any serious offense against their laws, so the question would arise as to why Paul felt it was necessary to appeal his case to the emperor. Why hadn’t Festus simply pronounced him innocent and released him? So, the new governor would need to come up with a good explanation as to why he delayed justice for this Roman citizen. 

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