December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Three days after his arrival in the province, Festus went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem
- where the chief priests and Jewish leaders presented him their formal charges against Paul. 1 They asked him
- as a favor to have him sent to Jerusalem, for they were plotting to kill him along the way.
- Festus replied that Paul was being held in custody in Caesarea and that he himself would be returning there shortly.
- He said, "Let your authorities come down with me, and if this man has done something improper, let them accuse him."
- After spending no more than eight or ten days with them, he went down to Caesarea, and on the following day took his seat on the tribunal and ordered that Paul be brought in.
- When he appeared, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem surrounded him and brought many serious charges against him, which they were unable to prove.
- In defending himself Paul said, "I have committed no crime either against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar."
- 2 Then Festus, wishing to ingratiate himself with the Jews, said to Paul in reply, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and there stand trial before me on these charges?"
- Paul answered, "I am standing before the tribunal of Caesar; this is where I should be tried. I have committed no crime against the Jews, as you very well know.
- If I have committed a crime or done anything deserving death, I do not seek to escape the death penalty; but if there is no substance to the charges they are bringing against me, then no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar."
- Then Festus, after conferring with his council, replied, "You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go."
- When a few days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice 3 arrived in Caesarea on a visit to Festus.
- Since they spent several days there, Festus referred Paul's case to the king, saying, "There is a man here left in custody by Felix.
- When I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and demanded his condemnation.
- I answered them that it was not Roman practice to hand over an accused person before he has faced his accusers and had the opportunity to defend himself against their charge.
- So when (they) came together here, I made no delay; the next day I took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought in.
- His accusers stood around him, but did not charge him with any of the crimes I suspected.
- Instead they had some issues with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus who had died but who Paul claimed was alive.
- Since I was at a loss how to investigate this controversy, I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem and there stand trial on these charges.
- And when Paul appealed that he be held in custody for the Emperor's decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar."
- Agrippa said to Festus, "I too should like to hear this man." He replied, "Tomorrow you will hear him."
- The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great ceremony and entered the audience hall in the company of cohort commanders and the prominent men of the city and, by command of Festus, Paul was brought in.
- And Festus said, "King Agrippa and all you here present with us, look at this man about whom the whole Jewish populace petitioned me here and in Jerusalem, clamoring that he should live no longer.
- I found, however, that he had done nothing deserving death, and so when he appealed to the Emperor, I decided to send him.
- But I have nothing definite to write about him to our sovereign; therefore I have brought him before all of you, and particularly before you, King Agrippa, so that I may have something to write as a result of this investigation.
- For it seems senseless to me to send up a prisoner without indicating the charges against him."
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1  Even after two years the animosity toward Paul in Jerusalem had not subsided (see Acts 24:27).
2 [9-12] Paul refuses to acknowledge that the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem has any jurisdiction over him now (Acts 25:11). Paul uses his right as a Roman citizen to appeal his case to the jurisdiction of the Emperor (Nero, ca. A.D. 60) (Acts 25:12). This move broke the deadlock between Roman protective custody of Paul and the plan of his enemies to kill him (3).
3  King Agrippa and Bernice: brother and sister, children of Herod Agrippa I whose activities against the Jerusalem community are mentioned in Acts 12:1-19. Agrippa II was a petty ruler over small areas in northern Palestine and some villages in Perea. His influence on the Jewish population of Palestine was insignificant.
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