Acts Chapter Twenty-five
I. Content of the Chapter
Paul’s Witness before Festus the Governor
I. Festus succeeded as the governor and the Jews accused Paul before him (v.1-3).
II. Festus asked them to accuse Paul at
III. Festus heard the case at
A. Festus sat at the judgment seat and brought Paul to trial (v.6).
B. The Jews laid many serious complaints against Paul (v.7).
C. Paul answered for himself that he was innocent (v.8).
Paul appealed to Caesar, lest he be tried at
IV. King Agrippa came to greet Festus and he told him of the case of Paul (v.13-21).
V. King Agrippa wanted to hear Paul himself and therefore they tried Paul jointly (v.22-23).
VI. Festus declared to Festus that Paul was innocent
and Paul himself had appealed to Augustus, he had to send him to
II. Verse by Verse commentary
Acts. 25:1 “Now when Festus had come
to the province, after three days he went up from Caesarea to
YLT: “Festus, therefore,
having come into the province, after three days went up to
Meaning of Words: “Festus”: festal.
Literal Meaning: “Now when Festus had come to
the province” Festus succeeded
Felix and became the governor of the
“After three days” shows that he did not dare to slight it and eagerly dealt with the problem of the racial disorder which was left by the past governor (See Acts. 24:27).
“He went up from Caesarea to
The aim of Festus to go to
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “After three days” When believers living in the world, we should work diligently. The lazy ones are of no use in the hands of the Lord.
2) “From Caesarea to
Acts. 25:2 “Then the high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul; and they petitioned him,”
YLT: “and the chief priest and the principal men of the Jews made manifest to him [the things] against Paul, and were calling on him,”
Literal Meaning: “the high priest and the chief men of the Jews” “The high priest” is singular in some of the original hand-written copies and it refers to the high priest. However, in the majority of the hand-written copies it is the plural and it refers to the chief priests (See v.15). “The chief men of the Jews” refers to Sadducees in the Jewish council. They were the leaders of the Jewish council. They made use of the opportunity that the Roman governor took office newly and held that it was a good opportunity and therefore they mentioned their accusation against Paul again, hoping to accomplish their wish at a heat.
Enlightenment in the Word: the hatred of the people in Judaism did not fall after two years. This condition shows that the conflict with those who hold views different from their own in religion would become severer and it cannot “coexist peacefully”.
Acts. 25:3 “asking a favor against
him, that he would summon him to
YLT: “asking favour
against him, that he may send for him to
Literal Meaning: “asking a favor” refers to asking him to do them a favor.
“While they lay in ambush along the road to kill him” “They” should not indicate that the leaders of the council would kill Paul by themselves and it indicates that they ganged up with the extreme and zealous Jews to do it (Acts. 23:12-15).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The leaders of Judaism even humble themselves and ask a favor from the worldly political power in order to wholeheartedly clear up those who hold view different from their own. It is a picture that the religion utilizes the politics.
2) Those who are zealous to keep the religious letters and regulations and neglect the spiritual reality will “harm men” instead of “saving men” and “be hypocritical” instead of “being sincere in truth”.
3) The religious ones always cover themselves up with the legal appearance to achieve their inner illegal aims. They are more terrible than the worldly ones.
4) If we Christians only pay attention to the debate on religious doctrines and neglect the spiritual renewning and change, unavoidably we will recommit the same error of people in Judaism, e.g. a) they say and do not do (Matt. 23:3); b) they teach men to abandon the vain glory of the world and they themselves scramble for power and profit in the church (Matt. 23:6); c) they are zealous to preach the gospel and ask men to win one proselyte and make him be the son of hell (Matt. 23:15) and so on.
Acts. 25:4 “But Festus answered that
Paul should be kept at
YLT: “Then, indeed,
Festus answered that Paul is kept in
The Background: without the permission of the person involved, it is not allowed to deliver a Roman citizen to the Jewish council to deal with him.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes (Prov. 21:1). Without the permission of God, men’s tricks cannot be carried out.
2) When dealing with affairs, those who are on the throne (e.g. the elders and so on) should stick to the principles and should not yield to men’s favor.
Acts. 25:5 “‘Therefore,’ he said, ‘let those who have authority among you go down with me and accuse this man, to see if there is any fault in him.’”
YLT: “`Therefore those able among you -- saith he -- having come down together, if there be anything in this man -- let them accuse him;'”
Meaning of Words: “those who have authority”: those able, those who have power; “any fault”: awry, amiss.
Literal Meaning: “accuse this man, to see if there is any fault in him” It shows that his attitude of handling a case was to conduct justly.
Acts. 25:6 “And when he had remained
among them more than ten days, he went down to
YLT: “and having tarried among them more than ten days, having gone down to Caesarea, on the morrow having sat upon the tribunal, he commanded Paul to be brought;”
Literal Meaning: “when he had remained among
them more than ten days” “More than ten days” shows that he did not stay long in
“And the next day, sitting on the judgment seat” “The next day” shows that he paid much attention to this case and dealt with it immediately. “Sitting on the judgment seat” shows that he judged the case formally and the judgment made at court was the official judgment of the court.
Acts. 25:7 “When he had come, the
Jews who had come down from
YLT: “and he having come,
there stood round about the Jews who have come down from
Literal Meaning: “laid many serious complaints against Paul” “Serious complaints” describes that if the accusations were true, they were enough to put the one involved to death. The Jews knew that if they accused Paul with the different opinions in the religious theological views, the Roman court would not accept them or condemn Paul. And therefore they must fake up the serious political charge to accuse him such as destroying the Roman law, disturbing the social peace, stirring up a revolution to rebel against Caesar and etc.
“Which they could not prove” It means that the accusations that they made lacked witnesses or proofs or the proofs were too weak to be trusted.
Acts. 25:8 “while he answered for himself, ‘Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.’”
YLT: “he making defence -- `Neither in regard to the law of the Jews, nor in regard to the temple, nor in regard to Caesar -- did I commit any sin.'”
The Background: the Jews made three accusations against Paul: 1) offending the Law of the Jews and teaching all the Jews which were among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs (Acts. 21:21, 28; 23:29); 2) profaning the holy temple and bringing the Greeks to the inner court (Acts. 21:28; 24:6); 3) stirring up the Jews to rebel against the Roman political power (Acts. 24:5).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Christians are not under obligation to obey the
Law of Moses (Gal. 3:13; 5:1), however, we are not against the Law (See Matt.
5:17-19) because the Law brings us unto Christ (Gal. 3:24;
2) The true God that we believe in does not dwell
in temples made with hands (Acts. 17:24), however, He specially separates the
3) Christians respect the law of the national law
and the social order (
4) Christians should live a conscientious and careful life and then we could boldly say that “I have not offended in anything at all”. This way, if we are still persecuted, we are persecuted on account of righteousness (Matt. 5:10) and “we do well and suffer for it” (1Pet. 2:20). It is acceptable with God and blessed.
Acts. 25:9 “But Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, ‘Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and there be judged before me concerning these things?’”
YLT: “And Festus willing
to lay on the Jews a favour, answering Paul, said, `Art thou willing, to
Literal Meaning: “But Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor” Please note that both the previous and present governors held the attitude of “showing the Jews a favor” in dealing with Paul’s case (See Acts. 24:27).
“Are you willing to go up to
Please note that Festus purposely asked this
question before the Jews (See v.7). Probably he just wanted to explain it to
the Jews and he did not hope Paul to go up to
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The principle of walking of the world is to “do men a favor”, however, Christ’s servants should please God (Gal. 1:10; Eph. 6:6; Col. 3:22).
2) Believers should neither play politics nor seek the compromise under the threat of the evil power.
3) When we Christians live among the world, we should be guileless as doves and wise as serpents (Matt. 10:16). When listening to others’ words, we should understand not only the apparent meaning but also the implied meaning.
Acts. 25:10 “So Paul said, ‘I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very well know.”
YLT: “and Paul said, `At the tribunal of Caesar I am standing, where it behoveth me to be judged; to Jews I did no unrighteousness, as thou dost also very well know;”
Literal Meaning: “I stand at Caesar's judgment seat” “Caesar” was the title of the Roman Emperor; the governor was the representative of the emperor and he was authorized by the emperor to judge the judicial cases. “Caesar's judgment seat” refers to the court of the Roman Emperor where cases were judged according to the Roman law.
“Where I ought to be judged” In other words, Paul refused to be judged
“To the Jews I have done no wrong” “Wrong” refers to crimes that were against the Roman law.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Christians should not bully others, however, we should not let others bully us randomly. We should use the legal rights well to protect us.
2) Though the majority of Christians are unwilling to dabble in the affairs in the political circle, we should understand the national political system and we could use it to work for us when necessary.
Acts. 25:11 “For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.’”
YLT: “for if indeed I am unrighteous, and anything worthy of death have done, I deprecate not to die; and if there is none of the things of which these accuse me, no one is able to make a favour of me to them; to Caesar I appeal!'”
The Background: The Roman citizens have the right to be judged justly. If anyone holds that he has not been judged justly in the provincial court, he could appeal to Caesar and be judged by the emperor himself. Only the murderers or the robbers who are seized on the spot cannot appeal to the emperor.
Literal Meaning: “I appeal to Caesar” It indicates that he asked to be judged in
the supreme court in the
The reasons that Paul
insisted on appealing to Caesar were as follows: 1) if his case was given to
the Jewish council for judgment, he couldn’t receive the just judgment (See
Acts. 23:2-3; 24:1); 2) there was a scheme to kill him in ambush along the road
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The Lord accomplished His will of guiding Paul to Roman by Paul’s appeal to Caesar, showing that all things are in the hand of God and work for His will and for good to those who love God (Rom. 8:28).
2) Paul’s “appeal to Caesar” may be greatly related to the revelation that the Lord Jesus had given him (Acts. 23:11). The heavenly revelation is the principle of Christians’ walking. We should be careful and should not be disobedient to the heavenly vision (Acts. 26:19).
3) Paul did not feel desperate when he was ill-treated by the authorities for such a long time and he was still full of ambition. Christians should not lose heart in welling doing for the unjust treatment (Gal. 6:9).
Acts. 25:12 “Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, ‘You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!’”
YLT: “then Festus, having communed with the council, answered, `To Caesar thou hast appealed; to Caesar thou shalt go.'”
Literal Meaning: “Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council” “The council” was the institution of counseling that was made up of administrative officials and the specialists in law.
“To Caesar you shall go!” Some Bible exegetes held that Paul’s appeal to Caesar met the desire of Festus because: 1) Festus asked Paul whether he was willing to be judged in Jerusalem in order to pacify Sadducees (See v.3, 9) and actually he had other misgivings (See v.20); 2) he should have known the reason why Paul was sent to Caesarea (Acts. 23:25-30) and therefore if he sends Paul back to Jerusalem to be judged, the similar accident may happen; 3) if Paul truly went to Jerusalem, he offended the Pharisees and Christians; 4) if Paul did not go to Jerusalem, his honor as a governor was also kept; 5) if Paul appealed to Caesar, it indeed helped him to leave behind the troublesome problem and he could still have the good relationship with all the social circles of the Jews. To sum up, it is beneficial to Festus to allow Paul to go to Caesar. He would be only too glad to do it!
Acts. 25:13 “And after some days King
Agrippa and Bernice came to
YLT: “And certain days
having passed, Agrippa the king, and Bernice, came down to
Meaning of Words: “King Agrippa”: born because of difficulty; “Bernice”: make men be successful, successful.
Literal Meaning: “King Agrippa and Bernice
“To greet Festus” It is a convention in the official circles. The neighboring official came to greet the one who became the official newly. They made friends and got along with each other kindly and it was good to both of them.
Acts. 25:14 “When they had been there many days, Festus laid Paul's case before the king, saying: ‘There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix,”
YLT: “and as they were continuing there more days, Festus submitted to the king the things concerning Paul, saying, `There is a certain man, left by Felix, a prisoner,”
The Background: King Agrippa was the famous specialist in the Jewish religious problems. Besides other powers, King Agrippa had the right to appoint the Jewish high priests and was responsible for taking care of the ceremonial dress that the high priest wore in the annual Day of Atonement. And therefore sometimes he was called “the senior officer in the Jewish church”.
Literal Meaning: “Festus laid Paul's case before the king” There were at least two motives that Festus took the initiative to state Paul’s case before King Agrippa: 1) he was harassed with how to submit Paul’s case to the emperor (See v.26-27); 2) King Agrippa was the specialist in the Jewish religious problems and he could afford help in this aspect.
Enlightenment in the Word: “Festus laid Paul's case before the king” Concerning the things that we do not know how to deal with, we should have the humbleness and boldness to turn to others for advice.
Acts. 25:15 “about whom the chief
priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, when I was in
YLT: “about whom, in my
Literal Meaning: “about whom the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me” Here the plural number “the chief priests and the elders” refer to the leaders of the Jewish council (See v.2).
Acts. 25:16 “To them I answered, ‘It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.'”
YLT: “unto whom I answered, that it is not a custom of Romans to make a favour of any man to die, before that he who is accused may have the accusers face to face, and may receive place of defence in regard to the charge laid against [him].”
Literal Meaning: “It is not the custom of the Romans” The Roman Empire at that time had already had the complete legal system and the officials of all levels all judge according to the regulations. The Roman legal Digest marked out that a case cannot be decided without the procedure of the defense of the accused.
Acts. 25:17 “Therefore when they had come together, without any delay, the next day I sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in.”
YLT: “`They, therefore, having come together -- I, making no delay, on the succeeding [day] having sat upon the tribunal, did command the man to be brought,”
Literal Meaning: “Therefore when they had
come together” If the Jewish
leaders had not walked together with the governor, they must have arrived at
Acts. 25:18 “When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed,”
YLT: “concerning whom the accusers, having stood up, were bringing against [him] no accusation of the things I was thinking of,”
Literal Meaning: “they brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed” Festus the governor claimed again and again that Paul did not commit the sin that was against the Roman law (See v.25; Acts. 26:31). Here it was the first claim.
Acts. 25:19 “but had some questions against him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.”
YLT: “but certain questions concerning their own religion they had against him, and concerning a certain Jesus who was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive;”
Literal Meaning: “about their own religion” “Religion” is also translated as “superstitious” (See Acts. 17:22).
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) All the people said that Jesus was dead, however, “Paul affirmed Him to be alive”. It is the persistence in the faith of Christians which makes us be unwilling to echo the opinions of all the people a little. If our faith is not of the spiritual sight, we cannot hold fast to it.
2) A Christian who has the revelation will not change his statement even if men have imprisoned him. He still insists on it when men fake up many accusations to accuse him. If we value the truth of God, we would not be afraid of any trial.
3) The Lord Jesus that we believe in is “alive” and He is the living and true God (1Thess. 1:9) and therefore we should have the living faith towards Him.
4) Christ died and rose and lived again, that He
might be Lord of both the dead and the living (
5) Christ is not only the living one but also is alive for evermore (Rev. 1:18). We have “been saved by his life” (Rom. 5:10) and He could save us to the uttermost because He always lives to make intercession for them (Heb. 7:25).
6) The Lord said that, “because I live, you will live also” (John. 14:19). We should reckon ourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:11).
Acts. 25:20 “And because I was uncertain of such
questions, I asked whether he was willing to go to
YLT: “and I, doubting in
regard to the question concerning this, said, If he would wish to go on to
Literal Meaning: “I was uncertain of” It indicates that he felt confused because he did not know how to deal with it. Though Festus knew that Paul did not sin against any regulation of the law and he should be released, the Jews insisted on condemning him. And Festus was in a dilemma.
Acts. 25:21 “But when Paul appealed to be reserved for the decision of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I could send him to Caesar.’”
YLT: “but Paul having appealed to be kept to the hearing of Sebastus, I did command him to be kept till I might send him unto Caesar.'”
Literal Meaning: “But when Paul appealed to
be reserved” The words show
that Paul asked to be “watched” under the Roman government until he arrived in
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Though believers do not belong to the world, we live by the system in the world just like the common citizens and we are also kept by the policemen and others for the public security to avoid the harm from robbers.
2) Christians should make supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks for all men so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty (1Tim. 2:1-2).
Acts. 25:22 “Then Agrippa said to Festus, ‘I also would like to hear the man myself.’ ‘Tomorrow,’ he said, ‘you shall hear him.’”
YLT: “And Agrippa said unto Festus, `I was wishing also myself to hear the man;' and he said, `To-morrow thou shalt hear him;'”
Literal Meaning: “I also would like to hear the man myself.” King Agrippa, just like his uncle Antipas Herod, was interested in finding out what actually happened on the legendary ones (Luke. 23:8). He wanted to listen to Paul’s witness by himself and this produced the opportunity to fulfill the Lord’s words to Ananias for the first time that “for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before…kings…” (Acts. 9:15).
Enlightenment in the Word: we should not think all the authorities do not like to listen to the gospel. If the Lord gives us a chance and we have the boldness to preach the gospel to the high officials, probably some of them are willing to listen to us just like King Agrippa.
Acts. 25:23 “So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus' command Paul was brought in.”
YLT: “on the morrow, therefore -- on the coming of Agrippa and Bernice with much display, and they having entered into the audience chamber, with the chief captains also, and the principal men of the city, and Festus having ordered -- Paul was brought forth.”
Literal Meaning: “when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp” “With great pomp” describes the arrangement of the lineup which shows the power and influence.
“With the commanders” At that time there were five barracks
“And had entered the auditorium” “The auditorium” does not refer to the court for judgment (See v.6) because they did not formerly hold a court to judge the case. It was only the hearing that they held in order to assess the case and have something to write (See v.26-27). It was a hall to receive visitors which was suitable to hold the grand meeting and the political important ones could be there as observers.
Enlightenment in the Word: the world stresses on ostentation and extravagance, however, what’s important to Christians is to manifest Christ (Pill. 1:20) and make manifest the favor of Christ (2Cor. 2:14-15).
Acts. 25:24 “And Festus said: ‘King Agrippa and all the men who are here present with us, you see this man about whom the whole assembly of the Jews petitioned me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying out that he was not fit to live any longer.”
YLT: “And Festus said, `King Agrippa, and all men who are present with us, ye see this one, about whom all the multitude of the Jews did deal with me, both in Jerusalem and here, crying out, He ought not to live any longer;”
Literal Meaning: “the whole assembly of the
Jews” Strictly speaking, those who “asked a
favor” from Festus were merely the leaders of Judaism who represented the
multitudes who brought about the riot in the temple (Acts. 21:27-30) to speak
instead of “the whole” of the Jews in the city of
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) “You see this man” The true servant of Christ becomes a spectacle to all the people (1Cor. 4:9; Heb. 10:33). The world also watches us and therefore we should be careful of our words and deeds and then we are able to be good witness of Christ.
2) “You see this man” Men said so upon Paul just as what they did upon the Lord Jesus who was about to be crucified (John. 19:5), showing that Paul at that time had been conformed to the image of Christ’s suffering (Rom. 8:29; 2Pet. 2:21). May we be like Paul: “I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” (Gal. 6:17) and in this way, “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” (Pill. 1:20).
Acts. 25:25 “But when I found that he had committed nothing deserving of death, and that he himself had appealed to Augustus, I decided to send him.”
YLT: “and I, having found him to have done nothing worthy of death, and he also himself having appealed to Sebastus, I decided to send him,”
Literal Meaning: “But when I found that he had committed nothing deserving of death” It is the second time that Festus claimed that Paul did not commit any sin that was against the Roman law (See v.18).
Acts. 25:26 “I have nothing certain to write to my lord concerning him. Therefore I have brought him out before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the examination has taken place I may have something to write.”
YLT: “concerning whom I have no certain thing to write to [my] lord, wherefore I brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, king Agrippa, that the examination having been made, I may have something to write;”
Background: according to the
Roman law, concerning all the cases that were presented to Caesar, all the
provincial officials would not only send the one involved to
Literal Meaning: “I have nothing certain to write to my lord concerning him” “My lord” refers to the emperor (Caesar); the emperor at that time was Nero (A.D. 54-68).
“And especially before you, King Agrippa” He brought Paul to King Agrippa to satisfy his curiosity and hope to listen to his suggestion because King Agrippa was familiar with the different views between the Pharisees and Sadducees, the differences between Judaism and the faith of Christianity, the customs and conventions of the Jews and etc.
Acts. 25:27 “For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him.’”
YLT: “for it doth seem to me irrational, sending a prisoner, not also to signify the charges against him.'”
Meaning of Words: “specify”: signify, indicate, show; “unreasonable”: irrational, brute.
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
Learn the Way to Behave and Deal with Things from Chap.25
I. The positive example:
A. “Had come to the province, after three days…” (v.1a)------he was diligent in the government affairs.
B. “He went up from Caesarea to
C. “Asking a favor against him…but Festus answered…” (v.3-4)------he did not yield to the favor of men.
D. “Neither against…nor…nor…have I offended” (v.8)------he did not disobey the justice and the law.
E. “I have done no wrong” (v.10)------he did not do evil.
F. “No one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar” (v.11)------he knew how to use the legal rights.
G. “Before the accused has opportunity to answer for himself”…it is illegal to “deliver him to destruction” (v.16)------he judged justly.
H. “Without any delay, the next day” (v.17)------he did not hold things up.
II. The negative teachings:
A. “Wanting to do the Jews a favor” (v.9)------he regarded the favor of men.
B. “They brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed” (v.18, 10, 25) and he did not set him free------he knew the law but did not keep the law.
C. “Had come with great pomp” (v.23)------he stressed on the ostentation and extravagance.
The Looks of the Political and Religious Men
I. Festus (the political men):
A. Apparently he was diligent in the government affairs and loved the people and dealt with things justly (v.1, 4-5).
B. Actually he was negligent in doing his work and was all for keeping himself (v.9, 12, 16, 25-27).
C. He was ignorant of the spiritual things (v.19).
II. The high priest and the leaders of the Jews (the religious men):
A. They did unscrupulously in order to get rid of those who hold views different from their own (v.2-3).
B. They made the influence by numerical strength (v.7b “stood about”).
C. They lied and fabricated the facts (v.7b “many serious complaints…which they could not prove”).
III. King Agrippa and Bernice (men who are both in the religion and the politics):
A. He thought that he cared about the religious things (v.22 “I also would like to hear the man myself”).
B. Actually he showed his power and influence (v.23 “had come with great pomp”).
Paul’s Three “not Offending” (v.8)
I. He did not offend against the law of the Jews------he obeyed the Bible.
II. He did not offend against the temple------he obeyed the spiritual principle.
III. He did not offend against Caesar------he obeyed the worldly law.
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Sharon Ren