When Paul arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many serious charges that they could not prove.
I. THEIR UNREASONABLE PREJUDICES AGAINST HIM. They were thoroughly "prejudiced," and religious prejudices are the most blinding and most mischievous that men can take up. No kind of argument, no statements of fact, ever suffice to correct such prejudices, as may be illustrated from both religious and political spheres in our own day. Things corrected or denied a hundred times over, prejudice will persist in believing. When prejudice says, "It must be," all the world may stand in vain and plead, "But it is not." The prejudice of these men declared that Paul had defiled the temple, but he had not; it said that he insulted the honored system of Moses, but he did not. Their eyes were blinded, their hearts were hardened, and all argument was lost upon them.
II. PERSONAL FEELING INTENSIFIED RELIGIOUS PREJUDICE. Recall the scene in the court of the high priest, when the person occupying that office temporarily was reproved by the apostle. Nothing increases the hate in an evil-disposed man like his being publicly reproved or humbled. The Sadducees, who were the party to which the high priest belonged, would consider themselves insulted in the insult offered to him. And the Pharisee party were, no doubt, intensely annoyed by being drawn, on the same occasion, into a mere theological wrangle, which showed themselves up, and led to their losing their opportunity of killing Paul. So often personal feeling, injured pride, is at the root of religious prejudice and persecution. The fancied loyalty to God of the religious persecutor is really an extravagant anxiety about self.
III. FAILURE OF SOME SCHEMES AGGRAVATED THE EVIL PURPOSE. The scheme to kill Paul had been thwarted through Paul's nephew and the Roman officer; but the annoyance of failure prevented their seeing in the failure a rebuke. What the malicious cannot accomplish by open methods they will seek by secret ones, lowering themselves to any depths of meanness to accomplish their ends, even fawning upon new governors and begging personal favors. Beware of the debasing influence of cherished prejudices. - R.T.
The Jews laid many and grievous complaints against Paul.
I. FROM THE EFFRONTERY OF THE HYPOCRITE; for the Christian only makes use of a defence founded on fact (ver. 8).
II. FROM THE DEFIANCE OF THE WICKED; for the Christian refuses no judicial examination (vers. 9, 10).
III. FROM THE OBSTINACY OF THE LITIGIOUS; for the Christian submits to every just decision.
(Robe.)I. THE WORLD HAS MANY GRIEVOUS COMPLAINTS AGAINST THE CHRISTIAN. The Jews, who were the spirit of the world incarnate, had many indeed against Paul which were perfectly true. He was a constant source of irritation because he was a standing menace to their moral corruptions, their superstitious traditions, the policy and ambition of their priests, and their wholesale apostasy from God. So is the Christian an uncompromising enemy to the world's darling sins, its base pleasures, its unworthy methods, and its low aims. Hence there can be no peace between the two.
II. THESE ARE NOT THE COMPLAINTS THAT ARE PREFERRED. The Jews knew better than to air their real grievances, so they accused Paul of offences against their best institutions — the law and the temple, and of treason against the state. So the world masks its real grievances, and charges the Christian with enmity against man's best interests.
1. Happiness. How often has Christianity been charged with moroseness? Not only does it deprive men of the means of enjoyment, but inculcates practices calculated to produce positive pain.
2. Progress. How its precepts would impede the course of commerce, arms, personal and national aggrandisement, thought, etc.
3. Political order. How can a man who lives for another world take an absorbing and influential interest in this?
III. FOR THE OVERT COMPLAINTS OF THE WORLD THE CHRISTIAN SHOULD HAVE A PROMPT ANSWER. Paul's answer was a model of promptness: and it was true. He had put the law in its proper place and had everywhere vindicated its true functions. As for the temple, he had honoured it, and by that very act had imperilled his life. As for Caesar, the emperor had no more loyal subject, and none more solicitous of promoting loyalty throughout the empire. And against the world's accusation the Christian can say —
1. That Christianity alone can and does promote the true happiness of man.
2. That Christianity has been and is the truest friend of the world's progress.
3. That the Christian by the doctrine of a future life is bound to maintain the best interests of this.
IV. THE CHRISTIAN SHOULD REFUSE TO BE ARRAIGNED BEFORE THIS WORLD'S TRIBUNALS AND SHOULD MAKE HIS APPEAL TO THE HIGHEST. Paul knew that justice at the hands of his accusers was out of the question, and therefore appealed to the only bar at which it was likely to be obtained. So the Christian, if he be wise, will decline the world's arbitrament. By it he is condemned already. What use therefore of appealing to it? But there is One who judges with righteous and infallible judgment, and he may appeal with confidence to Him. Let men frown as they may, clamour as they may — the Christian need not be frightened and should not give way for an instant. His court of appeal is the judgment seat of Christ.
(J. W. Burn.)
But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure.I. THE MOTIVE BY WHICH IT IS ACTUATED. Festus was willing to do the Jews a pleasure that he might stand the higher in their esteem. This was necessary to his personal comfort, for he knew the race that he had to govern. This was desirable for the ultimate ends he had in view — successful administration; royal favour. It is remarkable that with the examples of Pilate and Festus before him he should hope to succeed.
1. This motive is a base one. Ambition to please the good and to improve the bad is laudable; but ambition to please the basest is self-degradation.
2. This motive seldom succeeds. Witness Pilate and Festus.
II. THE SACRIFICES IT ENTAILS. Festus proposed to undertake the toilsome journey to Jerusalem. But to what inconveniences is a popularity hunter obliged to subject himself. He must go where those whom he desires please, and do what they would have him do. Hence the toilsome days and sleepless nights of the popular preacher or politician. He who would really serve his race is not exempt from sacrifice; but he has compensations which the mere popularity seeker wets not of.
III. THE DEGRADATION TO WHICH IT STOOPS. Here is a Roman judge armed with all the authority that Caesar could confer, willing to surrender that authority and to bow to that which was already discredited. And the man who would be popular has often to descend from the highest ground to the lowest, from a sense of justice, honour, and the fitness of things to pander to the base inclinations or passions of the mob.
IV. THE ACCIDENTS TO WHICH IT IS LIABLE. Suppose Paul had been tried at Jerusalem. Had the case gone against him he would certainly have appealed, and Festus would have had to endorse the appeal. In that event his popularity would have indeed been brief. And what a little thing has often sufficed to dash a popular idol to the ground! Both preachers and statesmen know this.
V. THE FRUSTRATION TO WHICH IT IS DOOMED. Suppose Festus had succeeded, how long would he have enjoyed his popularity? In two short years he was where the objects of the idolatry and the execration of the mob alike lie together. Sic transit gloria mundi. Conclusion: The best course is to do the right and thus seek God's pleasure, whether man is pleased or not.
(J. W. Burn.)
I appeal unto Caesar
1. Of conscience void of offence before God and man.
2. Of a humble submission to Divinely ordained authority.
3. Of an evangelical and sober avoidance of an unnecessary martyrdom.
4. Of an unwearied zeal for the extension of the kingdom of God.
1. From the sentence of the wicked to the judgment of the righteous.
2. From the passions of the moment to the justice of the future.
3. From the opinions of the world to the testimony of his own conscience.
4. From the tribunal of man to the judgment seat of God.
Unto Caesar thou shalt go. —
I. WHENCE THIS DECISIVE SENTENCE PROCEEDED.
1. From Festus as the speaker.
2. From Paul as the wisher of it.
3. From the Lord as the designer and confirmer of it.
II. TO WHOM IT RELATED.
1. To Paul as its subject.
2. To the Romans, who should soon be affected by it — many were converted by Paul.
3. To the world in general.
III. THE RESULTS WHICH FOLLOWED IT.
1. The plan of the Jews for Paul's murder was frustrated.
2. Paul's wish to go to Rome was fulfilled.
(J. H. Tasson.)
PeopleAgrippa, Augustus, Bernice, Felix, Festus, Paul
TopicsAble, Appeared, Arrival, Arrived, Bringing, Charges, Complaints, Facts, Grave, Grievous, Jerusalem, Jews, Laid, Paul, Paul's, Prove, Round, Serious, Sorts, Statements, Stood, Substantiate, Supported, Unable, Weighty
Outline1. The Jews accuse Paul before Festus.
8. He answers for himself,
11. and appeals unto Caesar.
14. Afterwards Festus opens his matter to king Agrippa;
23. and he is brought forth.
25. Festus clears him of having done anything worthy of death.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesActs 25:7
Library1 Cor. 15:3-4. Foundation Truths.
 "I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; "And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures."--1 Cor. 15:3-4. THE text which heads this paper is taken from a passage of Scripture with which most Englishmen are only too well acquainted. It is the chapter from which the lesson has been selected, which forms part of the matchless Burial Service of the Church of England. Of …
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Whether Ambition is Opposed to Magnanimity by Excess?
Whether it is Lawful for the Accused to Escape Judgment by Appealing?
Acts 26:24-29. Portraits.
Messiah Worshipped by Angels
The Candour of the Writers of the New Testament.
The Intercession of Christ
Jerusalem to Rome
From Antioch to the Destruction of Jerusalem.
One Argument which Has Been Much Relied Upon but not More than Its Just Weight...
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