Acts 25:7

Taking advantage of the anxiety to please his new subjects which would characterize the fresh governor, the enemies of St. Paul came to Festus asking a favor; not, however, that they directly asked for what they really wanted. They asked for Paul's trial at a Jerusalem court, where the ecclesiastical offences, with which he was charged, could alone be properly considered. They intended to take advantage of his journey to attack the party and kill Paul - a scheme which only religious bigotry could devise, for it was one which promised little success. Roman soldiers were not wont to lose their prisoners. The incident gives a painful illustration of the miserable servility of religious bigotry. Farrar says, "Festus was not one of the base and feeble procurators who would commit a crime to win popularity. The Palestinian Jews soon found that they had to do with one who more resembled a Gallio than a Felix." "Festus saw through them sufficiently to thwart their design under the guise of a courteous offer that, as Paul was now at Caesarea, he would return thither almost immediately, and give a full and fair audience to their complaints. On their continued insistence, Festus gave them the haughty and genuinely Roman reply that, whatever their Oriental notions of justice might be, it was not the custom of the Romans to grant any person's life to his accusers by way of doing a favor, but to place the accused and the accusers face to face, and to give the accused a full opportunity for self-defense." Felix may have given Festus some intimation of the enmity felt against this particular prisoner, and some account of the plot to assassinate him, from which he had been preserved by Lysias. Examining the character and schemes of these enemies of St. Paul, we note -

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.
It is different —

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.


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
This is a proof —

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.

(K. Gerok.)

Where may a Christian seek his denied rights? He may appeal —

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.

(K. Gerok.)

Unto Caesar thou shalt go.


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.


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.


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.)

Agrippa, Augustus, Bernice, Felix, Festus, Paul
Caesarea, Jerusalem
Able, 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
1. 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 Themes
Acts 25:7

     5276   crime
     6632   conviction
     8751   false witness
     8776   lies

Acts 25:1-7

     7505   Jews, the

Acts 25:1-12

     5108   Paul, life of
     5203   acquittal
     5593   trial

Acts 25:6-8

     5944   self-defence

1 Cor. 15:3-4. Foundation Truths.
[4] "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
John Charles Ryle—The Upper Room: Being a Few Truths for the Times

Whether a Judge May Condemn a Man who is not Accused?
Objection 1: It would seem that a judge may pass sentence on a man who is not accused. For human justice is derived from Divine justice. Now God judges the sinner even though there be no accuser. Therefore it seems that a man may pass sentence of condemnation on a man even though there be no accuser. Objection 2: Further, an accuser is required in judicial procedure in order that he may relate the crime to the judge. Now sometimes the crime may come to the judge's knowledge otherwise than by accusation;
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Ambition is Opposed to Magnanimity by Excess?
Objection 1: It seems that ambition is not opposed to magnanimity by excess. For one mean has only one extreme opposed to it on the one side. Now presumption is opposed to magnanimity by excess as stated above ([3363]Q[130], A[2]). Therefore ambition is not opposed to it by excess. Objection 2: Further, magnanimity is about honors; whereas ambition seems to regard positions of dignity: for it is written (2 Macc. 4:7) that "Jason ambitiously sought the high priesthood." Therefore ambition is not opposed
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether it is Lawful for the Accused to Escape Judgment by Appealing?
Objection 1: It would seem unlawful for the accused to escape judgment by appealing. The Apostle says (Rom. 13:1): "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers." Now the accused by appealing refuses to be subject to a higher power, viz. the judge. Therefore he commits a sin. Objection 2: Further, ordinary authority is more binding than that which we choose for ourselves. Now according to the Decretals (II, qu. vi, cap. A judicibus) it is unlawful to appeal from the judges chosen by common consent.
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Acts 26:24-29. Portraits.
[10] "And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. "But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. "For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. "King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. "Then Agrippa said
John Charles Ryle—The Upper Room: Being a Few Truths for the Times

Messiah Worshipped by Angels
Let all the angels of God worship Him. M any of the Lord's true servants, have been in a situation so nearly similar to that of Elijah, that like him they have been tempted to think they were left to serve the Lord alone (I Kings 19:10) . But God had then a faithful people, and He has so in every age. The preaching of the Gospel may be compared to a standard erected, to which they repair, and thereby become known to each other, and more exposed to the notice and observation of the world. But we hope
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 2

The Candour of the Writers of the New Testament.
I make this candour to consist in their putting down many passages, and noticing many circumstances, which no writer whatever was likely to have forged; and which no writer would have chosen to appear in his book who had been careful to present the story in the most unexceptionable form, or who had thought himself at liberty to carve and mould the particulars of that story according to his choice, or according to his judgment of the effect. A strong and well-known example of the fairness of the evangelists
William Paley—Evidences of Christianity

The Intercession of Christ
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us! T he Redemption of the soul is precious. Fools make mock of sin (Proverbs 14:9) . But they will not think lightly of it, who duly consider the majesty, authority, and goodness of Him, against whom it is committed; and who are taught, by what God actually has done, what sin rendered necessary to be done, before a sinner could have a well-grounded
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 2

Jerusalem to Rome
Acts 21:17-28:31 THIS JOURNEY Scripture, Acts 21:17-28:31 1. The speech before the Jewish mob in the temple (Acts 22:1-29) in which Paul tells the Jews how he was changed from a persecutor to a believer in Christ. He relates also the story of his conversion. 2. The speech before the Jewish council (Acts 22:30; 23:1-10) in which he creates confusion by raising the question of the resurrection. But the provocation was great for the high-priest had commanded that Paul be smitten
Henry T. Sell—Bible Studies in the Life of Paul

From Antioch to the Destruction of Jerusalem.
Acts 13-28 and all the rest of the New Testament except the epistles of John and Revelation. The Changed Situation. We have now come to a turning point in the whole situation. The center of work has shifted from Jerusalem to Antioch, the capital of the Greek province of Syria, the residence of the Roman governor of the province. We change from the study of the struggles of Christianity in the Jewish world to those it made among heathen people. We no longer study many and various persons and their
Josiah Blake Tidwell—The Bible Period by Period

One Argument which Has Been Much Relied Upon but not More than Its Just Weight...
One argument which has been much relied upon (but not more than its just weight deserves) is the conformity of the facts occasionally mentioned or referred to in Scripture with the state of things in those times, as represented by foreign and independent accounts; which conformity proves, that the writers of the New Testament possessed a species of local knowledge which could belong only to an inhabitant of that country and to one living in that age. This argument, if well made out by examples, is
William Paley—Evidences of Christianity

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