Acts 25:17 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.
18 Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed:
19 But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.
20 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.
21 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.
22 Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.
23 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.
In these verses Festus continued to rehearse events that led up to the current time. He had been in Jerusalem as the new governor and was seeking to find out how he could best gain the trust of the people. Even dictators like to present themselves as caring for the people. They will try to use the “carrot” approach before they use the “stick”.
The antichrist will come in riding on a white horse with a bow, but no arrows. He will come in as a peace maker. He will discover that he cannot achieve his goals through subtilty and deception. At the midpoint of his rule, he will force his will upon the people.
In our text, Festus was trying to befriend the people. He soon discovered that the Jews had a major problem on their hands with one man. It is interesting how they assumed that one man was such a great threat to their false religion. What they failed to realize was that it was not one man that was against them, but rather it was God that was against them. In reality they were against God. They were fighting a losing battle and were not willing to acknowledge that fact.
In verse 19 we see that Festus knew about Jesus, but he was not at all interested in knowing the truth about Jesus. The argument with the Jews was that they wanted to dismiss Jesus as a “has been.” They wanted to believe and spread the lie that He was dead. However, the apostle Paul was preaching that Jesus Christ was alive. It was important then and is equally important now that Jesus Christ is alive. A dead Saviour is no Saviour at all. A living Saviour can save. A living Saviour will also judge those who reject Him as Saviour.
The Jews were tired of Roman rule. They did not want to go from Roman rule to God rule. They wanted to be independent. They wrongly assumed that was what it was like during the days of king David. They did not realize that David was successful because he was led by God. David’s failures came when he failed to obey God’s will.
The Jews did not want to admit they were in bondage to someone with greater power than the Roman government. In John 8 Jesus had addressed the bondage the Jews were under. They rejected His statements, but the reality was that they were of their father the devil. We have mentioned before that no one is their own boss. The richest man in the world is not his own boss. He is a slave to self and sin. The wisest man on earth is a servant of God. God knows what is right for man and He is willing to guide man to enjoy that which is right for him.
In verse 20 Festus admitted that he did not know what to make of the Jews’ opinions. He looked for a solution and he assumed that if he could get Paul to go to Jerusalem to meet his accusers, that would solve the problem.
In verse 21 he reminded Agrippa that Paul had rejected that offer and had appealed to Caesar instead. We noted already that the Jews were not interested in truth. Festus was not interested in truth either. The Jews had established a false religion that they were content to hold on to. They were not happy nor content, but they were not willing to admit the problem was their hard hearts.
We see again that God was in charge here. Paul was a Roman citizen and the Romans had some good aspects in their law. Paul used that to keep out of the clutches of the Jews.
In verse 22 Agrippa pointed out that he wanted to hear from the apostle Paul as well. We have already noted that king Agrippa was a wicked man. However, even wicked men cannot escape God’s working in their hearts. They can resist that work, but they cannot avoid it. King Agrippa would be given further opportunity to hear the truth and be saved.
God is gracious and He is merciful. He has His ways of making Himself known to all people. He is not willing that any should perish and He works in all people to give them opportunity to be saved. It is a tragedy that so many are just like Festus and Agrippa. They think there is some kind of entertainment value in hearing from a God-fearing person. They refuse to yield to the truth and be saved.
In verse 23 we see the vanity of politicians. They cannot behave like normal people. Leaders need to be leaders, but they do not need to get a fat head about being leaders. In fact when they get fat heads, they lose the ability to be leaders. We see here that there were quite a few top officials present for this particular meeting. The apostle Paul was going to speak to these officials about the need of their souls. God was opening a door for him and he was not ashamed to go through that door. He would faithfully preach the Word of God to these people.
Festus assumed that he was in charge and Paul had to wait for his commandment to come into the meeting. Paul was a prisoner, but as he often wrote, he was a prisoner of Jesus Christ. He respected the Roman government. His fight was not with Caesar. He was victorious already.
Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Paul was willing to stand before the king and he was willing to be submit to the Roman rule in this situation, but he knew that he was actually demonstrating submission to God. This is an important truth for us to know. Those who are saved are servants of the living God. We submit to Him and that submission will govern our submission to human authority. We know from Scripture that there were times when the apostles could not submit to human authority. They could not stop preaching in Jesus’ name. They would not stop preaching the Gospel.
In Paul’s present situation, he was not restricted from preaching the Gospel. He was restricted from travelling freely, but he was given great liberty to meet with people and encourage them in the things of the Lord.
Paul knew that His God and Saviour were worthy of true worship and these others were lost people who needed to know the true God. He would show them respect and speak the truth to them just as to anyone else. He had been able to meet with others over the past two years and he had much opportunity to pray for wisdom and direction. He also had others praying for him in his situation. He did not need to worry. He could walk with confidence, knowing that his message was of much greater importance than anything the king or anyone else would have to say. Paul did not need the pomp. He was not the important one. God was important and Paul would make Him known to these people. God would give him the words to speak and He would use those words to prick the hearts of the hearers.