After Paul appealed to Caesar, Festus had a thorny problem at hand. He was at a loss as to how to present the charges against Paul to Caesar, so he enlisted the help of King Agrippa, who agreed to hear Paul’s defense in order to assist Festus in writing his report. Paul made use of this occasion to witness the Christian faith before Agrippa and all who were present. At the end of this court session, both King Agrippa and Festus agreed that Paul could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.
Did You Know...?
1. King Agrippa (25:13): “Herod Agrippa II. He was 17 years old at the death of his father in AD 44 (12:23). Being too young to succeed his father, he was replaced by Roman procurators. Eight years later, however, a gradual extension of territorial authority began. Ultimately he ruled over territory north and northeast of the Sea of Galilee, over several Galilean cities and over some cities in Perea. At the Jewish revolt, when Jerusalem fell, he was on the side of the Romans. He died c. AD 100—the last of the Herods.”
2. Bernice (25:13): The oldest daughter of Agrippa I, she was 16 years old at his death. When only 13, she married her uncle, Herod of Chalcis, and had two sons. When Herod died, she lived with her brother, Agrippa II. To silence rumors that she was living in incest with her brother, she married Polemon, king of Cilicia, but left him soon to return to Agrippa. She became the mistress of the emperor Vespasian’s son Titus but was later ignored by him.” [ref]
3. Expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews (26:3): “Agrippa as king controlled the temple treasury and the investments of the high priest, and could appoint the high priest. He was consulted by the Romans on religious matters. This is one of the reasons Festus wanted him to assess Paul.” [ref]
4. Kick against the goads (26:14): “A Greek proverb for useless resistance—the ox succeeds only in hurting itself.” [ref]
- Festus Briefs King Agrippa (25:13-22)
- Festus Presents Paul to Agrippa (25:23-27)
- Paul’s Defense (26:1-23)
- His past (26:1-11)
- His conversion and mission (26:12-18)
- His obedience to God’s calling (26:19-23)
- Festus’ and Agrippa’s Response and Paul’s Reply (26:24-29)
- King Agrippa’s Conclusion (26:30-32)
How many times did governor Felix or King Agrippa comment that Paul had done nothing deserving of death or imprisonment?Hide Answer
Twice (25:25; 26:31)
What problem did Festus face with Paul’s case?Hide Answer
Festus did not know how to try Paul’s case because the issues concerned were not civil matters but matters of the Jewish religion. Being unfamiliar with Judaism and Christianity (25:19-20), he did not know how to present this case to Caesar. Not only s.o, the accusers could not prove thecharges they brought against Paul (25:7). This made the case very shaky.
How could Agrippa help him?Hide Answer
Since Agrippa was an expert in Jewish customs, he was probably the best person to help Festus examine Paul’s case, since the case was over matters of the Jewish religion.
Do you ever have to handle matters that you know little about? What do you do? Is there something you can learn from Festus?Hide Answer
Festus was at least honest about his ignorance and asked for Agrippa’s advice. He didn’t try to come to a verdict or write up some false charges. He responsibly took the time to understand more about the nature of the charge against Paul. In the same way, we do not need to be hasty in making a judgment on matters we know little about in order to cover up our ignorance. To deal with the matter fairly, we ought to understand the issue more thoroughly before acting on it.
What was the promise of hope that God had made to Israel’s forefathers?Hide Answer
The resurrection of the dead (26:6-8, 23; cf. Dan 12:2,3,13).
As a Pharisee, Paul had always believed in the resurrection of the dead. But how did his understanding of the resurrection change after his conversion to Christ?Hide Answer
Upon his conversion, Paul came to know that Jesus Christ was the Savior, the first to rise from the dead (26:23). It is through Christ and His resurrection that the light of salvation would come to the Jews and the Gentiles. It is also through Christ that the people of God will rise to eternal life on the last day (cf. 1Cor 15:22, 47-49).
In 26:18, the Lord speaks of the blessings that come to those who accept Christ. List and explain them.Hide Answer
1. Their eyes are opened—Believers are given the spiritual eyesight to see their need of salvation and to know Christ as their Savior (1Jn 5:20).
2. They are turned from darkness to ligh Believers are delivered from a lifestyle of sin and brought into a new life of holiness (Eph 5:8-9).
3. They are turned from the power of Satan to God—Believers are delivered from the control of Satan and brought into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (Col 1:13). Satan cannot harm them if they keep themselves within the love of God (1Jn 5:18-19).
4. They receive the forgiveness of sins Through baptism into Christ, their sins are washed away (Acts 2:38; 22:16). By the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the cross, believers are made guilt-free before God (Rom 3:23-26).
5. They receive an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Chris —Believers are heirs of eternal life and the glorious riches, which they will receive in God’s eternal kingdom (1Pet 1:3-5). God gives them the Holy Spirit as a deposit that guarantees this inheritance (Eph 1:13 14; Rom 8:15-17; 2Cor 4-5)
What was Paul’s goal in life after his conversion?Hide Answer
His goal was to obey God’s calling to be the witness and minister of the gospel of Christ and bring the gospel to the Gentiles (16-19; Acts 9:15).
What has the Lord called you to do? What are you doing to obey that calling?
How did Paul view his present condition as a prisoner? (22)Hide Answer
He believed that it was God who had helped him all this time and enabled him to witness for Christ. To him, his imprisonment and trial was an opportunity from God to witness for Him. He did not have any bitter complaint against God but gave God thanks for preserving him while in prison.
What can we learn from Paul in this regard?Hide Answer
We can look at a situation from two angles. We can either feel that we are suffering so much and God doesn’t care, or we can thank God and use the opportunity to bring glory to His name. What we can learn from Paul is that he was thankful in every circumstance and he made the best use of every opportunity to accomplish his mission.
What did Festus make of Paul’s defense?Hide Answer
He thought that Paul was mad because of his great education. Again, Festus showed his ignorance in the matter. He probably didn’t understand what Paul was saying at all!
How do unbelievers sometimes make similar remarks about our witnessing today?Hide Answer
Some unbelievers view preachers of the gospel as fanatics. They do not try to understand the message of the preaching, but simply make some cursory judgment about the preacher and dismiss the preaching completely. Or they may reject the testimonies about miracles of God and conclude that they are absurd.
What does Festus’ comment tell us about Paul?Hide Answer
Like the Lord Jesus, Paul was so devoted to his calling that people thought that he was mad (cf. Mk 3:20-21). His complete transformation after conversion and unwavering dedication was incomprehensible for Felix.
What does this teach us?Hide Answer
We may be viewed as strange because of our convictions and Christ-centered goals in life. But we just need to remember that we are certainly not the first to be thus viewed. As long as we are obedient to God’s calling, we do not need to let others’ view of us deter us from our commitment.
What was Paul’s wish for King Agrippa and all those who were present?Hide Answer
He wished that all of them would become Christians like him except not be in chains as he was.
How does Paul’s wish inspire you?Hide Answer
Paul made use of every opportunity to preach—even when he was standing in trial. He loved everyone dearly and hoped that they could be saved. Today, we can also reach out to the lost souls around us even when we are suffering. May we be filled with compassion to see the dire spiritual need of the unsaved.
What’s wrong with Agrippa’s words to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” (NIV)?Hide Answer
Agrippa, to maintain his dignity in public, did not want to answer Paul directly. He held himself back from accepting the gospel even though it was the truth.
How do his words reflect some people’s attitude toward the gospel?Hide Answer
Some people are able to see the truth of the gospel, but they resist the gospel and refuse to make a commitment to Christ. It is either because they do not want to give up their sinful lifestyle or they do not want to appear “weak” by acknowledging their need of God. So they find some excuse to avoid making a decision on whether to give their lives to Christ.
What was Agrippa’s verdict?Hide Answer
He concluded that Paul was innocent and that he could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar (32).
Was Paul’s decision to appeal to Caesar wrong since he could have been set free if he hadn’t made the appeal?Hide Answer
If Paul did not appeal to Caesar, King Agrippa would not have been brought in to try his case in the first place. Secondly, the Jews were very much against setting Paul free, and if Paul had been set free without the protection of the Roman army he could have been killed by the Jews who had plotted against him. So Paul was compelled to appeal to Caesar (28:19). Most importantly, his appeal was a response to God’s vision to him (23:11) that he would bear witness for the Lord at Rome.