January 22nd, 2007
What better entertainment could someone organise for visiting celebrities than a caged evangelist? They could stare at him as he paced back and forth and ranted and raved, and he could stare back at them. The celebrities could enjoy a good show, and then the caged evangelist could be locked safely back in his cage. He would not be allowed to get close enough to anyone to bite them. Perhaps that’s how Paul felt when Governor Felix paraded him in front of King Agrippa and Princess Bernice. Two different governors had tried him and found him not guilty, but they still weren’t going to let him out.
The Acts of the Apostles — Chapter 25
25:1 Three days after arriving in the province, Festus travelled from Caesarea to Jerusalem, 25:2 where the high priest and leaders of the Jews explained to him their case against Paul, requesting him, 25:3 as a favour, to summon Paul to Jerusalem. They were plotting to kill him on the way. 25:4 Festus answered that Paul would be kept in custody at Caesarea, but he himself was planning to go shortly, 25:5 so he said, “Your leaders can come along with me, and if the man has done something wrong, they can prosecute him.”
25:6 After staying for eight or ten days, he left for Caesarea, and on the following day he convened the tribunal, and ordered Paul to be brought in. 25:7 When he entered, the Jews who had come from Jerusalem stood around him, making a number of serious allegations against him which they were unable to prove, 25:8 and he said in his defense, “I have not done anything wrong at all with regard to the law of the Jews, or the temple, or Caesar.”
25:9 Festus wanted to please the Jews, so he asked Paul, “Are you willing to go to Jerusalem, and be tried by me there in relation to these matters?” 25:10 But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, which is the proper forum for my trial. I have committed no offence against the Jews, as you know very well. 25:11 If I had done something wrong, and had committed any crime punishable by death, I would not refuse to die. But if none of the things that they accuse me of is true, no one can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!” 25:12 Festus conferred with the council, then answered, “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go.”
25:13 Some days went by, and then King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea and greeted Festus. 25:14 As they were staying for a while, Festus mentioned the facts of Paul’s case to the king, saying, “There is a man who was left a prisoner by Felix. 25:15 The senior priests and elders of the Jews told me about him when I was in Jerusalem, asking me to sentence him. 25:16 I told them that Roman practice does not allow any man to be convicted until the accused has met his accusers face to face and has had opportunity to defend the charges laid against him. 25:17 They came here with me, and without delay I convened the tribunal on the next day, ordering the man to be brought in. 25:18 When the accusers stood up, they did not bring any charge against him of the type which I was expecting. 25:19 The matters which they alleged against him concerned their own religion, and a certain Jesus, who was dead, but Paul claimed to be alive. 25:20 I was unsure about how to investigate these things, so I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and be tried there on these issues. 25:21 But Paul appeal to have the case determined by the emperor, I ordered him to be kept until I could send him to Caesar.”
25:22 Agrippa said to Festus, “I also would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” he replied, “you shall hear him.” 25:23 So on the next day Agrippa and Bernice came with much ceremony, and went into the court room with the commanding officers and city officials. On the order of Festus, Paul was brought in. 25:24 Festus said, “King Agrippa, and everyone who is present with us, you see this man, about whom the Jewish community, both here and in Jerusalem, has petitioned me, demanding that he should not live any longer. 25:25 I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, but he appealed to the emperor, so I decided to send him. 25:26 I am not sure what to write to the emperor, so I have brought him in front of you, especially you, King Agrippa, so that, after he is examined, I can have something to write. 25:27 It seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to specify the charges against him.”