Acts 24, 25, 26 Felix, Festus, and Agrippa
This study will differ from our prior studies in Acts, in that we will actually cover three chapters in one setting. The study deals with Paul's appearances before Felix, Festus, and Agrippa, before he begins his journey to Rome. While there are no questions with the study, you can be certain that it contains some very interesting insights.
This is Acts041 - Acts 24, 25, 26 Felix, Festus, and Agrippa.
Acts 24:1-23: Paul before Felix.
The high priest Ananias arrives in Caesarea with a contingent of elders and an attorney named Tertullus. They intend to bring charges against Paul. But what they really want is for Paul to be returned to Jerusalem. There remains a death plot against him.
Paul is summoned and Tertullus begins with accusations. When he is finished, Paul is given permission to speak for himself. The apostle relates the events that led to the moment. Felix then decides to wait for Lysias the commander to come down to give his testimony. Once again Paul is remitted to custody, but given freedom for visits from friends and for any other ministry needs he may require.
Acts 24:24-27: Paul before Felix and his wife Drusilla.
Felix is deeply interested in this movement called 'the Way.' Some days later Felix brings his Jewish wife, wishing to hear more from Paul. As Paul discusses righteousness, self-control, and judgment to come, Felix becomes frightened, and says to Paul, "Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you." And so Paul continues as he was for two more years. But Felix sends for him often to hear more about the Way. At the end of the two years Felix is replaced by Festus.
Acts 25:1-6 - Paul before Festus.
Before Festus meets with Paul, he makes a trip to Jerusalem, where the chief priest and other leading men bring charges against Paul. They want Paul brought to Jerusalem. Festus refuses this request, but does allow certain of the leaders to accompany him back to Caesarea for a hearing. Paul is ordered to be brought forth. This time charges are added to charges.
Vs7: "After Paul arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him which they could not prove."
.... While being unable to prove corruption against Paul, they only showed their own hearts. These were the kind that Paul warned about in his letter to the Philippians; "Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision." (When we return to our Hebraic studies, I will share more in the deceit that came from this group in what was later called Talmudic Judaism.)
Vss8-9: Synopsis - Paul begins his defense, but Festus wishes to placate the Jews, so he says to Paul, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me on these charges?" And here is where we see Paul play his ultimate card.
Vs10-11: "But Paul said, 'I am standing before Caesar's tribunal, where I ought to be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you also very well know. If, then, I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die; but if none of those things is true of which these men accuse me, no one can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar.'"
.... When Paul said, "No one can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar," there was no more argument to be had. His Jewish accusers would have not more say in the matter.
Note: The law of appeal to Caesar was very sacred to the Romans. Under Julian law any magistrate, or any other with Roman authority, who put to death, or tortured, a Roman citizen who had made an appeal to Caesar, could themselves be condemned. It could even result in a death sentence. (This appeal was generally used as a final need. Most citizens would not want to appear before the emperor of Rome. But Paul must go to Rome.)
Vs12: "Then when Festus had conferred with his council, he answered, 'You have appealed to Caesar, to Caesar you shall go.'"
.... The council agreed that Paul should be sent to Rome. But this also relieved Festus of any obligation to the Jews, which he was really needed in beginning his new administration.
Acts 25:13-22 Festus lays Paul's case before Agrippa.
King Agrippa and Bernice come to Caesarea to give their respects to Festus in his new office. Festus remains deeply disturbed over Paul, so he begins laying out the case before Agrippa. All this intrigues Agrippa, so he wishes to hear the apostle for himself. Festus says, "Tomorrow you shall hear him."
Acts 25:23-27 thru Acts 26: Paul before Agrippa
Here is some of the most marvelous telling of Paul's background and of the gospel. (I suggest that the reader review these Scriptures.)
Acts25:27: "For it seems absurd to me in sending a prisoner, not to indicate also the charges against him."
.... This is how Festus finishes his presenting of Paul to Agrippa. What an awesome moment. The auditorium is filled. Agrippa's entourage of commanders and prominent men of the city overflow the place where they are. And what an audience Paul has for this moment of presenting the gospel.
Acts 26: Synopsis - Paul is given permission to speak, and speak he did. He stretches out his hand, first giving honor to Agrippa, and then he gives his personal testimony from his youth up to the moment of His meeting Jesus Christ, and then completes what he has to say with the present proceedings. Does he affect his audience? Listen:
Vs24: "While Paul was saying this in his defense, Festus said in a loud voice, 'Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad.'"
.... There is no question that Paul was a man of great learning, and a man well suited for his call to the apostleship. What is happening here is that conviction has settled over Festus. But keep in mind that Agrippa gave Paul the right to speak freely. Can you imagine the tense moment. The Holy Spirit has laid the case open before their eyes. Also keep in mind that King Agrippa's father, Herod, had tried to destroy the Christian faith early on. If you will take time to reach through this portion, you will find Paul directing everything towards one man, King Agrippa.
Notice how Paul will not let Agrippa escape attention. He speaks directly to the king.
Vs26,27: "For the king knows about these matters, and I speak to him also with confidence, since I am persuaded that none of these things escape his notice; for this has not been done in a corner. 'King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know that you do.'"
.... Paul leaves no opportunity to go amiss. The movement of Christ has made its impact everywhere. King Agrippa is well acquainted with the prophetic teachings on Messiah. What is Agrippa's response?
Vs28: "Agrippa replied to Paul, 'In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.'"
.... That Agrippa was under deep conviction goes without saying. A close rendering of what he said would be, "You have nearly persuaded me to embrace Christianity." Note again Paul's boldness.
Vs29: "And Paul said, "I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains."
.... It is here that Agrippa and the council stands up. They are completely overwhelmed with the gospel. But they do what men often do. Rather than make a response, they take a side trip. In this case they all agree on the innocence of the apostle. But for the moment, perhaps that is as it should be. After all, the gospel doesn't leave when the messenger leaves. It remains to continue its convicting work long afterward. It could well be that some of these peoples did turn to the Lord Jesus.
What is the outcome for Agrippa?
Vs32: "And Agrippa said to Festus, 'This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.'"
.... There you have it. Paul's testimony in Israel is finished. The rulers have heard the gospel. Where else could he speak? Both the Jewish authorities and the Roman rulers of the land have heard. And so now Paul must make his way to Rome.
This study was originally part of a series on the book of Acts given to members of Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003. They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, a former United Pentecostal Church minister, who founded Christian Challenge International. Writings are the copyright of Buddy Martin and reprinted on this site by permission.
Page added October 22, 2004
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