Acts 25 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)

Acts 25
Pulpit Commentary
Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
Verse 1. - Foetus therefore having come for now when Foetus was come, A.V.; went up for he ascended, A.V.; to Jerusalem from Casarea for from Caesarea to Jerusalem, A.V. The province (ἐπαρχία); above, Acts 23:34. After three days, etc. It is an evidence of the diligence of Foetus that he lost no time in going to Jerusalem, the center of disaffection to the Roman government.
Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him,
Verse 2. - And for then, A.V.; chief priests for high priest, A.V. and T.R.; principal men for chief, A.V.; and they besought for and besought, A.V. Chief priests; as in ver. 15 and Acts 22:30. But the reading of the T.R., "the high priest," is more in accordance with Acts 24:1, and is approved by Alford. The high priest at this time was no longer Ananias, but Ismael the son of Phabi, who was appointed by King Agrippa towards the close of Felix's government (Josephus, 'Ant. Jud.,' 20. 8:8). He went to Rome to appeal to Nero about the wall which the Jews had built to screen the temple from being overlooked, and which Agrippa had ordered to be pulled down; and being detained at Rome as a hostage, he was succeeded in the high priesthood by Joseph Cabi the son of Simon. We may feel sure that on this occasion he was present before Festus, for he had not yet gone to Rome. Informed him (ἐνεφάνισαν); see Acts 24:1, note. The principal men of the Jews (οἱ πρῶτοι). In ver. 15 Festus speaks of them as οἱ πρεσβύτεροι. The question arises as to whether the two phrases are identical in their meaning. Meyer thinks that the πρῶτοι includes leading men who were not elders, i.e. not Sanhedrists. Josephus calls the leading Jews of Caesarea οἱ πρωτεύοντες τῶν Ἰουδαίων ('Ant. Jud.,' 20. 8:9).
And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.
Verse 3. - Asking for and desired, A.V.; to kill him on the way for in the way to kill him, A.V. Asking favor, etc. The Jews evidently thought to take advantage of the inexperience of Festus, and of his natural desire to please them at his first start, to accomplish their murderous intentions against Paul.
But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither.
Verse 4. - Howbeit for but. A.V.; was kept in charge for should be kept, A.V.; was about to depart thither shortly for would depart shortly thither, A.V. Was kept in charge. Festus did not merely mention the fact, which the Jews knew already, that Paul was a prisoner at Caesarea, but his determination to keep him there till he could go down and try him. The A.V. gives the meaning. Either δεῖν is to be understood, as if Foetus should say, "Paul is a Roman citizen; Caesarea is the proper place for him to be tried at before the procurator, and therefore he must be kept in custody there," or some such words as, "I have given orders" must be understood before "that Paul should be kept."
Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him.
Verse 5. - Saith for said, A.V.; which are of power among you for which among you are able, A.V.; if there is anything amiss in the man, let them accuse him for accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him, A.V. Which are of power among you; i.e. your chief men, or, as we should say, your best men, which would include ability to conduct the accusation as well as mere station. Josephus frequently uses δυνατοί in the sense of "men of rank and power and influence," Ἰουδαίων οἱ δυνατώτατοι ('Ant. Jud.,' 14. 13:1); ἤκον Ἰουδαίων οἱ δυνατοί ('Bell. Jud.,' 1. 12:4), etc. (see 1 Corinthians 1:26; Revelation 6:15; and the passages from Thucydides, Xenophon, and Philo, quoted by Kuinoel). The rendering of the A.V., though defensible, is less natural and less in accordance with the genius of the language. Amiss; ἄτοπον, but many manuscripts omit ἄτοπον, leaving the sense, however, the same.
And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought.
Verse 6. - Not more than eight or ten days for more than ten days, A.V. and T.R.; on the morrow for the next day, A.V.; he sat... and commanded for sitting... commanded, A.V. On the morrow (see ver. 17). To he brought (ἀχθῆναι). The technical word for bringing a prisoner before the judge (Acts 6:12; Acts 18:12; Luke 21:12; Luke 23:1, etc.).
And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.
Verse 7. - Had come down for came down, A.V.; about him for about, A.V.; bringing against him for and laid... against Paul, A.V.; charges for complaints, A.V. Charges; αἰτιάματα, only here in the New Testament, and rare in classical Greek. The A.V. "complaints" means in older English exactly the same as "charges" or "accusations" (comp. "plaintiff").
While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.
Verse 8. - Paul said in his defense for he answered for himself, A.V. and T.R.; nor for neither, A.V.; against for yet against, A.V.; sinned for offended anything, A.V. Said in his defense (ἀπολογουμένου'); Acts 24:10, note. The Law... the temple,... Caesar. The accusations against him fell under these three heads (Acts 24:5): he was the ringleader of an unlawful sect; he had profaned the temple; and he had stirred up insurrection against the government among the Jews. The accusations were false under every head.
But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?
Verse 9. - Desiring to gain favor with the Jews for willing to do the Jews a pleasure, A.V. To gain favor, etc. (see above, Acts 24:27, note). It was not unnatural that Festus, ignorant as he still was of Jewish malice and bigotry and violence, in the case of Paul, and anxious to conciliate a people so difficult to govern as the Jews had showed themselves to be, should make the proposal. In doing so he still insisted that the trial should be before him. Before me; ἐπ ἐμοῦ, as Acts 23:30 and Acts 26:2; ἐπὶ σοῦ "before thee," viz. King Agrippa in the last case, and Felix in the former. The expression is somewhat ambiguous, and may merely mean that Festus would be present in the court to ensure fair play, while the Sanhedrim judged Paul according to their Law, and so Paul seems, by his answer, to have understood it.
Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.
Verse 10. - But Paul said for then said Paul, A.V.; I am standing for I stand, A.V.; before for at, A.V.; thou also for thou, A.V. I am standing before Caesar's judgment-seat (ἑστώς εἰμι). The judgment-seat of the procurator, who ministered judgment in Caesar's name and by his authority, was rightly called "Caesar's judgment-seat." As a Roman citizen, Paul had a right to be tried there, and not before the Sanhedrim. The pretence that he had offended against the Jewish Law, and therefore ought to be tried by the Jewish court, was a false one, as Festus well knew; for he had the record of the preceding trial before him.
For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.
Verse 11. - If then I am a wrong, doer for for if I be an offender, A.V. and T.R.; and for or, A.V.; if none of those things is true for if there be none of these things, A.V.; can give me up for may deliver me, A.V. I refuse not; οὐ παραιτοῦμαι. Here only in the Acts, and three times in Luke 14. Elsewhere, four times in the pastoral Epistles, and twice in Hebrews. Frequent in classical Greek. No man can give me up (χαρίσασθαι); as ver. 16, "to hand over as a matter of complaisance." St. Paul saw at once the danger he was in from Festus's inclination to curry favor with the Jews. With his usual fearlessness, therefore, and perhaps with the same quickness of temper which made him call Ananias "a whited wall," he said, "No man (not even the mighty Roman governor) may make me over to them at their request, to please them," and with the ready wit which characterized him, and with a knowledge of the rights which the Lex Julia, in addition to other laws, conferred on him as a Roman citizen, he immediately added, I appeal unto Caesar.
Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.
Verse 12. - Thou hast for hast thou? A.V. and, as far as punctuation is concerned, T.R. The council. Not the members of the Sanhedrim who were present, but his own consiliarii, or assessores, as they were called, in Greek πάρεδροι, with whom the Roman governor advised before giving judgment. Unto Caesar shalt thou go. In like manner, Pliny (quoted by Kuinoel) says of certain Christians who had appealed to Caesar, that, "because they were Roman citizens, he had thought it right to send them to Rome for trial" ('Epist.,' 10:97). Festus, though, maybe, rather startled by Paul's appeal, was perhaps not sorry to be thus rid of a difficult case, and at the same time to leave the Jews under the impression that he himself was willing to send the prisoner for trial to Jerusalem, had it been possible.
And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.
Verse 13. - Now when certain days were passed for and after certain days, A.V.; Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at for King Agrippa and Bernice came unto, A.V.; and saluted for to salute, A.V. and T.R. Agrippa the king. Herod Agrippa II., son of Herod Agrippa I. (Acts 12.), and consequently brother of Drusilla (Acts 24:24). He was only seventeen at his father's death, and so not considered by Claudius a safe person to entrust his father's large dominions to. But he gave him Chalets, and afterwards, in exchange for it, other dominions. It was he who made Ismael the son of Phabi high priest, and who built the palace at Jerusalem which overlooked the temple, and gave great offence to the Jews. He was the last of the Herods, and reigned above fifty years. Bernice was his sister, but was thought to be living in an incestuous intercourse with him. She had been the wife of her uncle Herod, Prince of Chalets; and on his death lived with her brother. She then for a while became the wife of Polemo, King of Cicilia, but soon returned to Herod Agrippa. She afterwards became the mistress of Vespasian and of Titus in succession (Alford). And saluted; ἀσπασόμενοι, which reading Meyer and Alford both retain. The reading of the R.T. is ἀσπασάμενοι. It is quite in accordance with the position of a dependent king, that he should come and pay his respects to the new Roman governor at Caesarea.
And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul's cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix:
Verse 14. - As they tarried for when they had been, A.V.: laid for declared, A.V.; case for cause, A.V.; before for unto, A.V.; a prisoner for in bonds, A.V. Many days (πλείους ἡμέρας). Not necessarily many, but as Acts 24:17 (margin), "some," or "several." The number indicated by the comparative degree, πλείων, depends upon what it is compared with. Here it means more days than was necessary for fulfilling the purpose of their visit, which was to salute Festus. They stayed on some days longer. Laid Paul's case before the king; ἀνέθετο τὰ κατὰ τὸν Παῦλον. The word only occurs in the New Testament here and in Galatians 2:2, "I laid before them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles." In 2 Macc. 3:9, Ἀνέθετο περὶ τοῦ γεγονότος ἐμφανισμοῦ, "Heliodorus laid before the high priest Onias the information that had been given about the treasure in the temple" (see other passages quoted by Kuinoel). The word might be rendered simply "told," the thing told being in the accusative, and the person to whom it is told in the dative. It was very natural that Festus should take the opportunity of consulting Agrippa, a Jew, and expert in all questions of Jewish Law, about Paul's cause.
About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.
Verse 15. - Asking for sentence for desiring to have judgment, A.V. and T.R. The chief priests (ver. 2, note). Informed me (see above, ver. 2, and Acts 24:1, note).
To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.
Verse 16. - That it is for it is, A.V.; custom for manner, A.V.; to give up for to deliver... to die, A.V. and T.R.; the accused for he which is accused, A.V.; have had opportunity to make his defense concerning the matter for have license to answer for himself concerning the crime, A.V. To give up (above, ver. 11, note). Have had opportunity to make his defense (τόπον ἀπολογίας λάβοι); see Acts 22:1, note.
Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth.
Verse 17. - When therefore for therefore, when, A.V.; together here for hither, A.V.; I made no delay for without any delay, A.V.; but on the next day for on the morrow, A.V.; sat down for I sat, A.V.; brought for brought forth, A.V. To be brought (above, ver. 6).
Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed:
Verse 18. - Concerning for against, A.V.; no charge for none accusation, A.V.; evil things for things, A.V. and T.R. They brought no charge. The expression, common in classical writers, ἐπιφέρειν αἰτίαν, answers to the Latin legal phrase, crimen inferre (Cicero, 'Contr. Verrem.,' 5:41; 'Ad Herenn.,' 4:35). Such evil things as I supposed; viz. seditions, insurrections, murders, and such like, which were so rife at this time.
But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.
Verse 19. - Religion for superstition, A.V.; who for which, A.V. Certain questions ζήτηματα); Acts 15:2; Acts 18:15; Acts 23:29, etc. Religion (δεισιδαιμονία); see Acts 17:22, δεισιδαιμονεστέρους, where there is the same doubt as here whether to take it in a good sense or a bad one. Here, as Festus, a man of the world, was speaking to a king who was a Jew, he is not likely to have intended to use an offensive phrase. So it is best to render it "religion," as the R.V. does. But Bishop Wordsworth renders τῆς ἰδίας δεισιδαιμονίας his own superstition, Paul's, which agrees with the context. These details must have been among those "complaints" spoken of in ver. 7. Whom Paul affirmed to be alive. Notice the stress constantly laid by the apostle upon the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. If his own superstition is the right rendering, we have here the nature of it, in Festus's view, belief in the resurrection of Jesus.
And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters.
Verse 20. - I, being perplexed how to inquire concerning these things, asked for because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him,, A.V. and T.R. I, being perplexed, etc. The ζήτησις spoken of by Festus does not mean his own judicial inquiry, though it is so used once in Polybius (6. 16:2), but the disputes or discussions on such subjects as the Resurrection, etc. (John 3:25; 1 Timothy 1:4; 1 Timothy 6:4; 2 Timothy 2:23; Titus 3:9), in which Festus felt himself at a loss. The A.V., therefore, expresses the sense more nearly than the R.V. The T.R. too, which inserts εἰς before τὴν περὶ τούτων ζήτησιν, is preferable to the R.T., because ἀποροῦμαι does not govern an accusative case, but is almost always followed by a preposition. Those who follow the reading of the T.R., περὶ τούτου, either understand πράγματος or refer τούτου to Paul or to Jesus.
But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar.
Verse 21. - To be kept for the decision of the emperor for to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, A.V.; should for might, A.V. The decision; διαγνῶσις, here only in the New Testament; but it is used in this sense in Wisd. 3:18 ("the day of trial," or "hearing," A.V.), and by Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 15. 3:8). For the verb διαγινώσκω, see Acts 23:15; Acts 24:22, notes. The emperor (τοῦ Σεβαστοῦ); rather, as the A.V., Augustus. Augustus was the title conferred by the senate upon Octavius Caesar, B.C. 27, whom we commonly designate Augustus Caesar. It became afterwards the distinctive title of the reigning emperor, and, after the end of the second century, sometimes of two or even three co-emperors, and was now berne by Nero. Its Greek equivalent was Σεβαστός. Augustus may be derived, as Ovid says, from augeo, as faustus from farce, and be kindred with augur, and mean one blest and aggrandized of God, and so, full of majesty. It is spoken of all holy things, temples and the like, "Et queocunque sua Jupiter auget ope" (Ovid, 'Fast.,' 1:609); and, as Ovid says in the same passage, is a title proper to the gods. For, comparing it with the names of the greatest Roman families, Maximus, Magnus, Torquatus, Corvus, etc., their names, he says, bespeak human honors, but of Augustus, he says, "Hie socium summo cum Jove nomen habet." And so the Greek Σεβαστός bespeaks a veneration closely akin to adoration. Caesar, originally the name of a family of the Juliagens, became the name of Octavius Caesar Augustus, as the adopted son of Julius Caesar; then of Tiberius, as the adopted son of Augustus; and then of the successors of Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero, who had by descent or adoption some relationship to C. Julius Caesar the great dictator. After Nero, succeeding emperors usually prefixed the name of Caesar to their other names, and placed that of Augustus after them. AElius Verus, adopted by Hadrian, was the first person who bore the name of Caesar without being emperor. From this time it became usual for the heir to the throne to bear the name; and later, for many of the emperor's kindred to be so called. It was, in fact, a title of honor conferred by the emperor.
Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.
Verse 22. - And for then, A.V.; I also could wish to hear for I would also hear, A.V.; saith for said, A.V. I also could wish (ἐβουλόμην); but the A.V. "I would" quite sufficiently expresses the imperfect tense (ich wollte) and the indirect wish intended. Meyer well compares ηὐχόμην (Romans 9:3) and ἤθελον (Galatians 4:20).
And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus' commandment Paul was brought forth.
Verse 23. - So for and, A.V.; they were for was, A.V.; the principal for principal, A.V.; the command of Festus for Festus commandment, A.V.;brought in for brought forth, A.V. With great pomp; μετὰ πολλῆς φαντασίας, here only in the New Testament. In Polybius it means "display," "show," "outward appearance," "impression," "effect," and the like. It is of frequent use among medical writers for the outward appearance of diseases. In Hebrews 12:21 τὸ φανταζόμενον is "the appearance," and φάντασμα (Matthew 14:26; Mark 6:49) is "an appearance," "a phantom." The place of hearing. The word ἀκροατήριον (from ἀκροάομαι το hear, whence ἀκροάτης, Romans 2:13; James 1:22, 23, 25) occurs only here in the New Testament. It is literally an "audience-hall," and means sometimes a "lecture-room." Here it is apparently the hall where cases were heard and tried before the procurator or other magistrate. Chief captains (χιλίαρχοι). Military tribunes, as Acts 21:31, and very frequently in the Acts. Meyer notes that, as there were five cohorts garrisoned in Caesarea, there would be five chiliarchs, or tribunes. At the command of Festus. These minute touches suggest that St. Luke was most likely in the hall, and saw the "great pomp," and heard Festus give the order lot Paul to be brought. Brought in (ἤχθη); see ver. 6, note.
And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer.
Verse 24. - Saith for said, A.V.; behold for see, A.V.; made suit to we for have dealt with me, A.V.; here for also here, A.V. That he ought not to live (Acts 22:22). This had evidently been repeated by the Jews before Festus himself (ver. 7), and is implied by Paul's words in ver. 11.
But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him.
Verse 25. - I found... I determined for when I found... I have determined, A.V. and T.R.; as for that, A.V. and T.R.; appealed for hath appealed, A.V.; the emperor for Augustus, A.V. Nothing worthy of death (see Acts 23:29; and comp. Luke 23:4, 15). I determined. The A.V., "when I found . .. I have determined," is hardly good grammar according to our present usage. It should be "determined," unless "when" is equivalent to "inasmuch as." If "when" expresses a point of past time from which the act of determining started, the perfect is improper in modern English. The same remark applies to the next verse, "I have brought him forth... that I might."
Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write.
Verse 26. - King for O king, A.V.; may for might, A.V. My lord (τῷ κυτίῳ). Suetonius tells us ('Life of Augustus,' 53) that Augustus abhorred the title of "lord," and looked upon it as a curse and an insult when applied to himself. Tiberius also ('Life of Tiberius,' 27), being once called "lord" (dominus) by some one, indignantly repudiated the title. But it was frequently applied to Trajan by Pithy, and the later emperors seem to have accepted it. It was likely to grow up first in the East. Examination; ἀνακρίσεως, here only in the New Testament; but it is found in 3Macc. 7:4 in the same sense as here, viz. of a judicial examination (the complaint being that Jews were put to death ἄνευ πάσης ἀνακρίσεως καὶ ἐξετάσεως); specially the precious examination of the prisoner made for the information of the judge who was to try the case. At Athens the ἀνάκρισις was a preliminary examination held to decide whether an action at law should be allowed. The verb ἀνακρίνω, to examine, occurs six times in the Gospel of St. Luke and the Acts (Luke 23:14; Acts 4:9; Acts 12:19, etc.), and ten times in St. Paul's Epistles (see also Hist. of Susanna 48).
For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.
Verse 27. - In sending... not for to send... and not, A.V.; charges for crimes laid, A.V. Unreasonable; ἄλογον, only in 2 Peter 2:12 and Jude 1:10, "without reason," applied to the brute creation; but found in the LXX. of Exodus 6:12 and Wisd. 11:15; and also frequent in medical writers. The opposite phrase, κατὰ λόγον, "reasonably," in Acts 18:14, is also of very frequent use in medical writers. Ἄλογος ἀλόγως ἀλογία are also not uncommon in Polybius, and in classical Greek generally. The charges against him (τὰς κατ αὐτοῦ αἰτίας). The technical legal term for the "accusation" or "charge" formally made against the prisoner, and which was to form the subject of the trial (come. Matthew 27:37; Mark 15:26)

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