(1) After three days he ascended . . .—Better, he went up. (See Note on Acts 24:1.)
If there be any wickedness in him.—The better MSS. give simply, “if there be anything,” practically, i.e., anything worth inquiring into.
As thou very well knowest.—We have, as in Acts 24:22, the comparative of the adverb. Festus knew this too well to need any further proof. He had heard the random charges, and had seen the worthlessness of the evidence.
I appeal unto Cæsar.—The history of this right of appeal affords a singular illustration of the manner in which the republic had been transformed into a despotic monarchy. Theoretically the emperor was but the imperator, or commander-in-chief of the armies of the state, appointed by the senate, and acting under its direction. Consuls were still elected every year, and went through the shadowy functions of their office. Many of the provinces (see Notes on Acts 13:7; Acts 18:12), were directly under the control of the senate, and were accordingly governed by proconsuls. But Augustus had contrived to concentrate in himself all the powers that in the days of the republic had checked and balanced the exercise of individual authority. He was supreme pontiff, and as such regulated the religion of the state; permanent censor, and as such could give or recall the privileges of citizenship at his pleasure. The Tribunicia potestas, which had originally been conferred on the tribunes of the plebs so that they might protect members of their order who appealed to them against the injustice of patrician magistrates, was attached to his office. As such he became the final Court of Appeal from all subordinate tribunals, and so, by a subtle artifice, what had been intended as a safeguard to freedom became the instrument of a centralised tyranny. With this aspect of the matter St. Paul had, of course, nothing to do. It was enough for him that by this appeal he delivered himself from the injustice of a weak and temporising judge, and made his long-delayed journey to Rome a matter of moral certainty.
To salute Festus.—This visit was probably, as the word indicates, of the nature of a formal recognition of the new procurator on his arrival in the province.
To deliver any man . . .—The use of the same verb as that which St. Paul had used in Acts 25:16 shows that the arrow shot at a venture had hit the mark. Festus is eager to repel the charge. The words “to die” (literally, unto destruction) are not found in the best MSS., and seem to have been added by way of explanation. The language of the procurator is strictly official. The accused and the accusers are to stand face to face, and the former is to have an opening for his apologia, or defence, in answer to the indictment.
The chief captains.—Literally, chiliarchs, as in Acts 21:31.
Acts 25:27For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.