Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 10 April 2021; Revised 30 July 2021
Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament. Scripture quotations may be taken from different versions. Click here for abbreviations of Bible versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: Citations marked as "DSS" are from the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries BC and the first century AD. Online DSS Bible.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.
● Josephus: Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began in the 2nd century under Rabbi Akiva, but completed by Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century A.D. Online.
● Talmud: Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. The Jerusalem Talmud, identified with "TJ," may be found here. Click here for Talmud abbreviations.
● Targums: The targums are early Aramaic translations of the Hebrew text with commentary: Targum Jerusalem (1st c. AD), Targum Neofiti (1st c. AD), Targum Onkelos (c. 35–120 AD) and Targum Jonathan (2nd c. AD). See an index of targum texts here.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations and pronunciation of Greek words. Parsing data for Greek words is from Anthony J. Fisher, Greek New Testament. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms ADONAI (for 'LORD' when quoting a Tanakh source), Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).
See the article Introduction to Acts for background information on Luke and the book of Acts. For a suggested timeline of Acts see the dating chart of George Edmundson. All dates given for the narrative of Acts are estimates.
Chapter Twenty-Five continues the narrative of the previous chapter and describes the arrival of a new governor of Judaea, Festus, before whom Paul will appear to answer charges presented against him by the Jewish chief priests. Noteworthy is the absence of any mention of the high priest. According to Josephus a high priest named Jonathan succeed Ananias (Ant. XX, 8:5), but this Jonathan so annoyed Felix that the governor arranged to have him assassinated. A new high priest, Ishmael, was appointed by King Agrippa while Paul was still waiting in Caesarea (Josephus, Ant. XX, 8:8), and he apparently decided to not get involved.
However, other chief priests, having been on the council during the tenure of Ananias took the opportunity of a new governor to appeal for the transfer of Paul to Jerusalem for trial with the desire to ambush him while en route and kill him. Festus vetoed their request and demanded that the chief priests come to Caesarea to present their case against Paul. That hearing taking place Paul made his famous appeal to be heard by Caesar himself to which Festus concurred. As a Roman citizen Paul had this right.
Several days later King Agrippa and his sister arrived in the city and learned of Paul's case being heard by Festus. Agrippa expressed a desire to meet and hear Paul for himself, to which Festus readily agreed. He hoped that Agrippa would help him write up the case to explain the specific charges to Caesar Nero. Paul's speech before King Agrippa is presented in the next chapter.
Festus in Jerusalem, 25:1-5
Paul Before Festus, 25:6-12
Festus Consults with King Agrippa II, 25:13-22
Paul Before King Agrippa II, 25:23-27
July A.D. 59
Rome: Caesar Nero (AD 54-68)
Procurator of Judaea: Porcius Festus (AD 59-61)
High Priest in Jerusalem: Ishmael b. Phiabi II (AD 58-61)
1 Therefore Festus, having arrived in the province, after three days he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea.
Therefore: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, "so, therefore, consequently, then." The conjunction forms a bridge with the last verse of the previous chapter. Festus: Grk. Phēstos, a surname. Festus succeeded Felix as procurator and served for two years (AD 59-61). He is mentioned by Josephus (Ant. XX, 8:9; Wars II, 14:1). having arrived: Grk. epibainō, aor. part., move so as to arrive at or be in an area; arrive, enter, set foot in/on. in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, lit. "in," "within" or "among."
the province: Grk. ho eparcheia, a region subject to a prefect; a province of the Roman empire, either a larger province, or an appendage to a larger province, as Israel was to that of Syria. The province was Judaea, which incorporated the historic Israelite regions of Idumea, Judea and Samaria. Bruce notes that a reliable pointer to the date of the appointment of Festus has been found in a change in the Judaean provincial coinage attested for Nero's fifth year (AD 58-59); this coin issue is more likely to be the work of a new procurator than of an outgoing one who had already minted a large issue (fn 44, 449). Longenecker says that Roman proconsuls normally took office on July 1 (comment on Acts 18:12).
after: Grk. meta, prep. with a root meaning of "in the midst of" (DM 107), may be used (1) as a marker of association; with, among; or (2) as a sequential marker; after, behind. The second usage is intended here. three: Grk. treis, the numeral three. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera, day, normally either (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). The second usage is probably intended here.
In the LXX hēmera translates Heb. yom (SH-3117), day, first in Genesis 1:5. The common mode of expression "after three days" does not necessarily denote that the third day had already elapsed, but could just as well designate the third day (cf. "after three days," Mark 8:31). In Hebrew culture a part of a day counted as a day. he went up: Grk. anabainō, aor., to proceed in a direction that is up, go up. The verb depicts the change in elevation from the coast to the hill country of Judea. to: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit, here complementing the verb to indicate completion of movement.
Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma, a rough transliteration of the Heb. Yerushalayim (SH-3389), which means "possession" or "foundation of peace" (BDB 436). Hierosoluma is one of two forms of "Jerusalem" in Greek, the other being Ierousalēm. The spelling of Hierosoluma was used for the city in the Roman province of Judaea as found in the secular works of Strabo and Dio Cassius and the Jewish writings of Philo and Josephus. This Greek spelling does not occur in the LXX at all (BAG). See the note on "Jerusalem" in 1:4. Jews considered Jerusalem to be their capital city. The decision to travel so soon to Jerusalem after his arrival probably owes to learning about Paul occupying a room in the governor's residence ("the Praetorium," Acts 23:35).
from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, here denoting place of origin; from. Caesarea: Grk. Kaisareia, a prominent coastal city located 600 stadia northwest from Jerusalem (Wars I, 3:5) or about 70 miles. See the map here. Originally called Strato's Tower, Herod changed the name of the city to Caesarea in honor of Caesar Augustus (Ant. XIV, 4:4; XV, 8:5). The city was also called Caesarea Maritima to distinguish it from Caesarea Philippi. After the death of Herod the city became the capital of the Roman province of Judaea and served as the official home of the procurators. The city was home to a thriving Jewish community, including a Messianic congregation (Acts 21:8, 16).
Longenecker begins his commentary on this chapter with the statement "For the Jewish population of Palestine, Porcius Festus was a welcome successor to Felix." The use of the label "Palestine," which occurs frequently in Longenecker's commentary on Acts, is both inaccurate and offensive. See my article The Land is NOT Palestine! The setting of the story of Acts Chapter Twenty-Five occurs in the Roman province of Judaea, first in Jerusalem, which lay in the hill country of Judea and in the historic region assigned to the tribe of Judah, and next in Caesarea (verse 6), the capital of the Roman province. From God's point of view the Land was "Israel" (1Sam 13:19; Matt 2:20-21; 10:23; Luke 4:25, 27; 7:9; John 1:49; Eph 2:12).
Josephus identifies three accomplishments of Festus during his term of office. First, he proceeded with rigor against the Sicarii, pursuing them with infantry and cavalry (Ant. XX, 8:10).Second, he also took severe measures against a certain prophet that enticed the people into the desert, promising them deliverance from the Romans. Third, When King Agrippa II, in order to be able to oversee the court of the Temple, erected a high wall in the former Hasmonean castle, the Jews in turn erected a higher wall to cut off his view (Ant. XX, 8:11). Festus, however, for military reasons would not allow this latter wall to stand; but he allowed the Jews to send an embassy to appeal against his decision to Nero, who decided in their favor. Festus died after a short term of office.
2 Both the chief priests and the leading men of the Jews presented charges to him against Paul, and they were urging him,
Both: Grk. te, conj. used to connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; also, both. the chief priests: pl. of Grk. ho archiereus, a high or chief priest. The KJV has "high priest" but the noun is plural. In the LXX archiereus occurs only two times in the canonical books (Lev 4:3; Josh 24:33), but 41 times in the Apocrypha (DNTT 3:35). The plural noun included any living retired high priests and active holders of the priestly offices of higher rank in the Temple, altogether some fifteen to twenty persons. From Luke's narrative and Josephus (Ant. XX, 9:1) we know that the chief priests were Sadducees and ex–officio members of the Sanhedrin (Jeremias 179, 197, 230).
In addition to the high priest, the working chief priests included the deputy high priest, the director of the weekly division of ordinary priests, the director of the daily shift, the seven temple overseers and the three or more temple treasurers (Jeremias 160). As a group the chief priests wielded considerable power in the city. The current high priest, Ishmael, is not specifically mentioned in this chapter, but that does not mean he would not have been included in the general reference of "chief priests." and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative, 'and, also, even;' (2) adversative, 'and yet, but, however;' or (3) intensive, 'certainly, indeed' (DM 250f). The first use applies here.
the principal men: masc. pl. of Grk. ho prōtos, adj., having to do with beforeness, whether (1) indicating primary position in sequence; first, earlier, earliest; (2) standing out in significance or importance, or (3) adverbially denoting first of all, at the first. The second meaning applies here. Most versions translate the plural noun with the neutral term "leaders," but some versions have "principal men" (ASV, AMPC, ESV, MW, RSV, WEB, YLT). Other versions have "leading men" (AMP, NASB, NTE) or "chief men" (KJ21, NKJV, NMB) or simply "chief" (BRG, DARBY, KJV, RGT). There is no question that all these Judean leaders were men.
In the LXX prōtos translates four different Hebrew words (rôsh, rishôn, echad and qedem), all of which can mean "first" or "chief" and used primarily in a spatial or temporal sense or as an ordinal number (DNTT 1:665). The adjective does occur in passages to denote rank and worth, such as the high priest (1Kgs 2:35), the king's counselors (1Chr 18:17), a close friend (1Chr 27:33), and the leader of the choir (Neh 12:46). Noteworthy is that Luke does not use the term "elders" (Grk. presbuteroi) here, but Festus does in mentioning the same group (verse 15 below).
Delitzsch translates prōtos with Heb. rashê (from rôsh), chief, magistrate, leader or president (Jastrow 1437). In Talmudic literature the term could refer to a chief magistrate (Rosh Hashanah 22a), a prominent Sage (Ber. 63b; Shab. 33b) or president of an Academy. In Jewish culture a "rashê" had precedence over an elder (cf. Deut 29:10).
of the Jews: pl. of Grk. ho Ioudaios (derived from Ioudas, "Judah"). See the explanatory note on 2:5. Among Gentiles the ethnic term did not distinguish between members of the twelve tribes of Israel or parties of Judaism. However, among Jews in the first century Ioudaios was only used to distinguish devout Jews whose tenets and practices conformed to Pharisee beliefs and traditions (Matt 23:2-3; Mark 7:3; Acts 2:5; 10:28). Luke uses the group reference ho prōtoi tōn Ioudaiōn to distinguish them from the Sadducean chief priests but at the same time they shared core values.
These Jewish leaders possessed considerable influence and power within the Temple fraternity and could have been members of the Pharisee party (cf. Matt 21:45; 27:62; John 7:32, 45; 11:47, 57; 18:3), but Luke does not identify them as Pharisees due to their opposition to Paul. Luke goes out of his way in Acts to avoid presenting the Pharisees in a pejorative light, perhaps because Paul made a point of identifying himself as a Pharisee (Acts 23:6; 26:5).
presented charges: Grk. emphanizō, aor., 3p-pl., may mean (1) make visible; appear; or (2) provide information; disclose, inform, make known, report. The second meaning is intended here. The verb is used here as a technical term to indicate laying formal information before a judge. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here. The pronoun refers to Festus. The unspecified charges were probably a repetition of what Tertullus had presented to Felix.
against: Grk. kata, prep., with the root meaning of "down," is generally used to signify (1) direction, 'against, down;' (2) opposition, 'against;' or (3) conformity, 'according to.' The second usage is intended here. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos, from the Latin cognomen or surname Paulus ("small" or "humble"). The definite article probably signifies "the one called." The name Paulos first appears in Acts 13:9. The name Paulus was probably taken from the patron who made Roman citizenship possible for Paul's father or grandfather (see Acts 22:28). Paul was born in Tarsus of Cilicia to traditional Jewish parents of the tribe of Benjamin, given the Hebrew name Sha'ul, and lived as a devout Pharisee (Acts 22:3; 23:6; 26:5; Php 3:5).
Paul was called by Yeshua to be an apostle and to proclaim the good news to the nations and the sons of Israel (Acts 9:15). For a biography of Paul see my article The Apostle from Tarsus. The CJB, in deference to its intended audience, substitutes the Hebrew name Sha'ul for "Paul" to emphasize his Jewishness and rebut the lie of historic Christianity that the apostle surrendered his Jewish identity (Stern 267). We should note that "Paul" is also the only name by which the apostle refers to himself in his writings and those were sent to congregations with largely Jewish membership, as well as to Jewish congregational leaders. In addition, the OJB, which also has Sha'ul, adds the title "Rav" in direct violation of Yeshua's instruction (Matt 23:8). Paul never used the honorific of himself and no one ever addressed Paul as "Rabbi."
and: Grk. kai. they were urging: Grk. parakaleō (from para, "beside," and kaleō, "to call"), impf., 3p-pl., may mean (1) call to be at one's side; (2) hearten in time of trouble; or (3) encourage performance; urge, exhort, encourage. The third meaning applies here. In the LXX parakaleō is chiefly used for Heb. nacham (SH-5152), be moved to pity, console, comfort, have compassion, first in Genesis 24:67. him: Grk. autos; Festus. The sentence continues into the next verse.
NOTE: Chapter and verse divisions are purely arbitrary, since the original Greek MSS had neither. Chapter divisions were introduced by Stephen Langton in 1227 and verse divisions were inserted by Robert Estienne in the 1551 edition of his Greek text (Textus Receptus). Chapter and verse divisions are not inspired by the Holy Spirit.
3 requesting a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem, while planning an ambush to kill him on the way.
requesting: Grk. aiteō, pl. pres. part., to ask in expectation of a response; ask, ask for, petition, request. The subject of the verb is the "chief men and principal men of the Jews" in the previous verse. a favor: Grk. charis, disposition marked by inclination to generosity, frequently unmotivated by the worth of the recipient; thus, grace, gracefulness, graciousness, favor, thanks or gratitude. against: Grk. kata, prep. See the previous verse. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Paul. The Jewish leaders knew they could not make demands of the new governor, but decided to play nice and see if they could convince the governor to do as they wished.
that: Grk. hopōs, adv. used to indicate purpose, objective or an end in view; in order that, so that. he would summon: Grk. metapempō, aor. mid. subj., dispatch for someone's presence; send after, send for, summon. him: Grk. autos; i.e., Paul. to: Grk. eis, prep. Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma. See verse 1 above. It would be a simple matter for Festus to send a soldier back to Caesarea to fetch Paul, so the request had the appearance of promoting reasonable cooperation. while planning: Grk. poieō, pl. pres. part., a verb of physical action, may mean (1) to produce something material or bring something into existence; or (2) to express by deeds the feelings and thoughts of the mind; act, do, perform. The second meaning applies here.
an ambush: Grk. enedra, a lying in wait, ambush. to kill: Grk. anaireō, aor. inf., to take up and used here to mean remove by causing death, kill, murder. him: Grk. autos, i.e., Paul. on: Grk kata, lit. "according to." the way: Grk. ho hodos (for Heb. derek, SH-1870), with the focus on the concept of going the word typically has the sense of a route for traveling, hence a way, a road or a highway. It can also refer to the act of traveling; journey, way, trip. Luke points out the latent hypocrisy and deception of the Jewish leaders.
The plot to kill Paul while en route to meet with Jewish leaders represented a Sadducean conspiracy that would fulfill the original plan of the forty assassins (Acts 23:12-15). Such a plan to attack Paul accompanied by Roman soldiers would be foolhardy and perhaps reflects a demonic influence. Ignoring the judgment of the Pharisees on the council (Acts 23:9) reflected a deep-seated malevolence against a man that at one time had been one them in organizing persecution of those belonging to the Way.
4 Therefore Festus indeed answered that Paul was to be detained at Caesarea and he himself was about to go there in haste.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. Festus: Grk. Phēstos. See verse 1 above. indeed: Grk. mén, adv., a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions do not translate the particle. answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass., to answer or reply to someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. In the LXX apokrinomai translates Heb. anah (SH-6030), to answer or respond to something said in conversation (Gen 18:27); to respond to an occasion and speak in view of circumstances (Dan 2:15) or to respond as a witness in a legal proceeding (1Sam 12:3) (BDB 772). that Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 2 above.
was to be detained: Grk. tēreō, pres. pass. inf., to guard, keep or watch over, and properly means to maintain or preserve intact (HELPS). In context the verb means to detain in custody. at: Grk. eis, prep. The preposition is used in a local sense without expressing motion (Rienecker). Caesarea: Grk. Kaisareia. See verse 1 above. and: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement; (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter; or (3) a continuation of thought, sometimes with emphasis. The third meaning applies here with an intensive effect, "indeed."
he himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person. was about to: Grk. mellō, pres. inf., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to. go there: Grk. ekporeuomai, pres. mid. inf., move from one place to another, to go out or to come out. in: Grk. en, prep. haste: Grk. tachos, putting into effect with rapidity; quickly, at once, swiftness, speed, without delay. Many versions translate the prepositional phrase as "shortly."
Festus was not about the change the venue of the trial and deny the citizenship rights of Paul. The reply of Festus might imply that he had consulted with Lysias while in Jerusalem and learned the backstory of Paul's arrest and plot to kill him. Festus might not have known the secret plan of Paul's accusers, but he knew he could not trust these Jewish leaders.
5 "So," he said, "those having authority among you, having gone down with me, if there is anything wrong in the man, let them accuse him."
So: Grk. oun, conj. he said: Grk. phēmi, pres. (from phaō, "shine, bring to light"), to convey one's thinking through verbal communication, say, declare. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having authority: pl. of Grk. dunatos, adj., may mean (1) having rank, authority or influence, competence or ability, able, powerful; or (2) capable of being realized, possible, realizable. The first meaning applies here. The noun may include the ability to speak as well as the prestige of position (Rienecker).
among: Grk. en, prep. you: Grk. humeis, pl. second person pronoun. The phrase "those having as authority among you" is used frequently for the Jewish notables (Rienecker). The invitation is general to allow the high priest freedom to determine who would be included in the group. Ellicott suggests that Festus wanted to preempt the leaders from using a hired prosecutor like Tertullus.
having gone down with me: Grk. sugkatabainō, pl. aor. part., to go down with someone, denoting descent from a higher geographical position to a lower, which describes the change in elevation from Jerusalem to Caesarea. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. Festus invited the Jewish leaders to accompany him back to Caesarea. If they were so anxious to prosecute Paul they could make the trip themselves.
if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker, used here to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. there is: Grk. eimi, pres., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). anything: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. wrong: Grk. atopos, adj. (from a, "not," and topos, "place"), out of place, amiss, improper. In early Greek writings the adjective meant "not befitting" or "unbecoming" (Thayer).
However, in the LXX atopos is used in an ethical sense of evil-doing, iniquity, or wickedness (Job 4:8; 11:11; 34:12; 35:13; 36:21; Prov 30:20; 2Macc 14:23). Philo also used the term in this ethical sense (Allegorical Interpretations III, 53). Festus was probably not familiar with Jewish literature and thus used the Greek term in the sense of not "falling in line with" expectations or the norm (HELPS). The clever choice of this term avoids the use of a term meaning unlawful in the sense of violating a Roman law.
in: Grk. en. the man: Grk. ho anēr, an adult man without regard to marital status. In the LXX anēr translates several Heb. words, but primarily ish (SH-376), man or husband (Gen 2:23). let them accuse: Grk. katēgoreō, pres. mid., 3p-pl., a technical legal term meaning to charge with an offense; accuse, charge or prosecute. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Paul. Festus demanded that even if Paul had violated Jewish rules the leaders must still present their accusations according to Roman law in proper form.
Paul Before Festus, 25:6-12
The summary nature of this section no doubt reflects a later recounting by Paul of the events to Luke rather than Luke being an eyewitness. Luke was allowed to visit Paul at the Praetorium (24:23).
And: Grk. de, conj. having spent: Grk. diatribō, aor. part., to spend time, to continue or stay in a place. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 1 above. among: Grk. en, prep. them: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Luke means that Festus went into buildings in which Jewish leaders were at ease receiving a Gentile. He likely knew the Jews would not come to him in the Praetorium of Jerusalem (cf. John 18:28). Josephus makes it almost certain that the headquarters of the procurator were at the palace of Herod located on the southwest hill called Zion (Wars, I, 21:1; V, 4:4).
not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. more than: Grk. pleiōn, adj., the comparative form of polus ("many"), meaning "greater in quantity" (comparatively speaking); more than (numerically); or abundant (greater in number). eight: Grk. oktō, adj., the numeral eight, a cardinal number. or: Grk. ē, conj. used to denote (1) an alternative, 'or,' or (2) a comparative function, 'than.' The first usage applies here. ten: Grk. deka, adj., the numeral ten, a primary number. The construction of "eight or ten" is unusual in Acts in which Luke mentions an indefinite number of days (Acts 1:5; 9:19, 23, 43; 10:48; 13:31; 15:36; 16:12, 18; 18:18; 21:10), or a specific number of days (Acts 1:3; 9:9; 10:30; 20:6; 21:4, 27; 24:1; 25:1).
The construction means Festus stayed at least eight days, but possibly as much as ten days. Stern suggests the time period was only long enough for Festus to get his bearings. Nicoll notes that the uncertainty of the time period may reflect the point of view of Paul and his friends at Caesarea, who did not know how much of his absence Festus had spent in Jerusalem, or how much on the journey. Three major Jewish festivals, Pesach (Passover), Sukkot (Booths), and Hanukkah each last a total of eight days, but it's not likely Festus visited Jerusalem during a festival. In any event the interaction recorded in verses 2 through 5 occurred during this time period.
having gone down: Grk. katabainō, aor. part., to proceed in a direction that is down; go down, come down, descend. The verb depicts the change in elevation coming from Jerusalem located in hill country to the coastal plain. to: Grk. eis, prep. Caesarea: Grk. Kaisareia. See verse 1 above. Based on previous narratives the journey between the two cities took at least two days. the next day: Grk. ho epaurion, adv., lit. 'on the morrow,' the next or following day. Festus decided not to delay the matter of Paul's case. having sat: Grk. kathizō, aor. part., to sit, to take one's seat. The verb signals the court being in session.
on: Grk. epi, prep., with the root meaning of "upon," used primarily as a marker of position or location; and in composition may be translated 'at, before, by, near, on, upon, or over.' the tribunal: Grk. ho bēma, space covered by a movement of one foot ahead of the other, a step; also a raised platform that requires steps for ascent, such as a speaker's platform; or platform of a magistrate's chair or throne. In the LXX bēma translates Heb. migdal (SH-4026; BDB 154), elevated stage, or pulpit (Neh 8:4). The term is used previously of the judgment seat of Pilate (Matt 27:19; John 19:13), a throne used by Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:21) and a judgment seat of Gallio (Acts 18:12).
The term bēma properly designates the Roman term tribunal for a platform of wood or stone on which magisterial personages, such as a procurator, sat in their chair of office when discharging their public duties. The chair itself, called a curule seat (Latin sella curulis), was constructed without a back, and with curved legs, like those of a camp-stool, so arranged that it could be folded up. Sitting on the tribunal was a necessary formality in order that his decision might have legal effect (Bruce).
he ordered: Grk. keleuō, aor., give an authoritative order; command, order. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 2 above. to be brought: Grk. agō, aor. pass. inf., to cause movement by taking the lead; lead away, bring, carry, take. Festus directed the centurions to fetch Paul from the Praetorium and bring him to the court room in order to begin Paul's retrial.
Then: Grk. de, conj. he: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Paul. having arrived: Grk. paraginomai, aor. mid. part., to make one's way so as to be present; come, arrive, be present. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. Jewish leaders: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 2 above. The plural noun refers to members of the chief priests and principal men whom Festus had invited to accompany him. having come down: Grk. katabainō, pl. perf. part. See the previous verse. from: Grk. apo, prep. Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma. See verse 1 above. The fact that the Jewish leaders made the trip to Caesarea indicates how much they wanted to prosecute Paul and have him executed.
stood around: Grk. periistēmi (from peri, "encompassing," and histēmi, "stand"), aor., 3p-pl., to stand around, as in a circle or a semicircle. him: Grk. autos; i.e., Paul. The phrase "stood around him" is reminiscent of Paul's standing in the midst of the council in Chapter Twenty-Three (23:10). bringing: Grk. katapherō, pl. pres. part., to bear down or bring down, here with the sense of making a public presentation of allegations. many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, whether of quantity ("many") or quality ("much"), here the former. The plural adjective signifies more than the three charges presented by Tertullus, perhaps even some newly invented charges.
and: Grk. kai, conj. weighty: Grk. barus, adj., lit. "heavy, weighty," figuratively important, serious or significant. charges: pl. of Grk. aitiama, an accusation or legal charge of guilt. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The charges could have included the previous slanderous accusations against Paul (Acts 21:21). The "weighty charges" may be contrasted with the "weighty matters of the Torah" that Yeshua accused Jewish leaders of having violated (Matt 23:23).
which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. they were not: Grk. ou, adv. able: Grk. ischuō, impf., 3p-pl., to have the capacity for accomplishing, either to cope with a situation or to achieve an objective; have power or strength, be able. to prove: Grk. apodeiknumi, aor. inf., point away from and so focus attention on. The verb is used to mean (1) set up for public display; (2) make a pretentious display; (3) bear witness to credentials; and (4) support with evidence. The fourth usage applies here. The accusers had no evidence that would satisfy the Torah standard of "two or three witnesses" (Deut 17:6; 19:15).
8 Paul speaking in his defense said that, "Neither in regard to the Torah of the Jews nor in regard to the temple, nor in regard to Caesar, have I sinned in anything."
Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 2 above. speaking in his defense: Grk. apologeomai, pres. mid. part., to speak in one's own defense. In the LXX apologeomai translates Heb. rib (SH-7378), to plead for justice (Jer 12:1) and Heb. galah (SH-1540), to make known a cause to (Jer 20:12). No mention is made of witnesses testifying on Paul's behalf, but he answered for himself, which he was allowed to do under Roman law (Gill). The willingness of Festus to listen to Paul may be contrasted with the reaction of Ananias when Paul testified before the temple ruling council (Acts 23:1-2).
said that: Grk. hoti, conj. used for (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as; or (4) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks. The fourth usage applies here. Paul then groups the "many and weighty charges" into three categories that mirror the three charges of Tertullus (24:5-6). Unfortunately, Luke does not satisfy the curiosity of the reader regarding the specifics of both the charges and the points of rebuttal in Paul's self-defense.
Neither: Grk. oute, conj., functioning as a negative particle, dismissing an activity or thing that follows the particle and often coupled formulaically with another oute, "neither…nor." The negative particle is a strong denial. in regard to: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "toward." See verse 1 above. Almost all versions translate the preposition as "against," but Paul does not use the regular preposition with that meaning (kata) as in Acts 21:28. The preposition eis is used here to denote reference or relation, thus "in regard to," "in reference to," "as regards." Of all Bible versions only the MJLT and YLT give the literal meaning "in regard to."
the Torah: Grk. ho nomos (from nemō, distribute; 'that which is generally recognized as customary') may mean either (1) a principle or standard relating to behavior or (2) codified legislation, i.e. law. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX nomos generally corresponds to Heb. torah (SH-8451), which means "direction," "teaching" or "instruction" (BDB 435f), first in Genesis 26:5. In the Pentateuch torah refers primarily to commandments decreed by God to Israel. Torah sets forth the way to live in an ethical way in order to enjoy life to the full and to please God. In the apostolic narratives nomos is used to mean:
● The written commandments, and instruction given through Moses to Israel (Luke 2:22-27; John 1:17; 7:19; Acts 7:53; 13:39).
● The entire Pentateuch, especially when used in combination with "the Prophets" (Luke 16:16; 24:44; John 1:45; Acts 13:15).
● Any portion of the Prophets and Writings (Matt 5:18; Luke 16:17). In this sense "Law" can be a synonym of "Scripture."
● Universal principles derived from Scripture (Matt 22:36-40; 23:23).
of the Jews: pl. of Grk. ho Ioudaios. See verse 2 above. The use of Ioudaios qualifies the noun nomos, and the phrase ton nomon tōn Ioudaiōn ("the law of the Jews") occurs only here in the Besekh. Paul did not say the "Torah of Moses" (e.g., Acts 13:39; 15:5; 28:23), although Gill assumes Paul uses "the law of the Jews" as a euphemism for "the law of Moses." Most commentators say little on this verse, probably because Paul's declaration violates the stereotype of Paul as being anti-law. Speaking to the Roman governor who probably knew nothing of the holy Bible of the Jews, Paul could have meant the commandments and statutes given through Moses to the Israelite people.
Just as likely Paul referred to either laws and regulations enacted by Jewish authorities (cf. Acts 18:15; 23:3, 29) or oral traditions of the Sages followed by Jewish people (cf. Matt 15:2; Mark 7:8-9; Acts 15:1; 22:3, 12; Gal 1:14). In any event he adamantly denied having violated any standard of behavior expected of Jewish people, whether by Moses or by Jewish authorities. Indeed, Paul endeavored to live as the epitome of Judaism (cf. 1Cor 9:20).
nor: Grk. oute. in regard to: Grk. eis. the temple: Grk. ho hieron, sanctuary or temple, here referring to the entire 35-acre complex of the Jerusalem temple with its courts, rooms, and chambers, in contrast to naios, the holy place where priests performed their sacrifices. For a description of the construction and characteristics of the temple see my comment on Mark 11:11. Certain Jews from Asia had claimed Paul defiled (Grk. koinoō) the temple by bringing uncircumcised men into its courts (Acts 21:28). In the Torah of Moses defiling the sanctuary resulted from uncleanness of worshippers (Lev 15:31; Num 19:13, 20) or committing idolatrous acts (Lev 20:3; cf. Ezek 5:11).
The prohibition of an uncircumcised person in the tabernacle or temple could be based on several passages (e.g., Ex 12:48; Deut 23:1-3, 18). Tertullus had stated the charge as "attempted profanation" (Acts 24:6) without clarifying what he meant. Paul absolutely denied this charge as a blatant lie and slander against his character. Luke doesn't record whether Paul repeated the defense to Festus that he made on this charge to Felix (24:17-21).
nor: Grk. oute. in regard to: Grk. eis. Caesar: Grk. Kaisar, originally the family name of Julius, the first emperor. In time it became a title of the Roman head of state. The probable charge was that the "Nazarenes" of whom Paul was a key leader (Acts 24:5) was a subversive group opposed to the authority of Caesar. Messianic Jews believed Yeshua to be the true king of Israel who would sit on David's throne and his reign would encompass the whole world (Luke 1:31-32; John 1:49; 18:37; Acts 2:36; 15:13-17; 1Cor 15:20-25; 1Tim 1:17; 6:15). Yet, Paul, in particular had exhorted disciples to respect and submit to the pagan authorities (Rom 13:1-5).
The Caesar in power at this time was Nero, although his name does not appear in the Besekh. He was born in A.D. 37 and given the name Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. In 50 he took the name Nero Claudius Caesar Drusus Germanicus. In 54 Nero succeeded Claudius as emperor after his assassination. Nero became infamous for cruelties, his personal debaucheries and extravagances, and late in his reign horrific persecutions of Christians. He died by suicide in 68. For a summary of Nero's life see the article at Livius.org. For original biographies of Nero see Tacitus, The Annals, (AD 109), Books XII−XVI, and Suetonius, The Lives of the Twelve Caesars (AD 121), Book VI, The Life of Nero.
have I sinned: Grk. hamartanō, aor., cause to be alongside instead of on target, to miss and in a moral sense to do wrong. The verb is used of offenses against the moral law of God as defined in the Torah. BAG defines the verb as to transgress or sin against divinity, custom or law. in anything: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. Paul did not claim to be sinless as his Lord, but in terms of these three categories of charges he was innocent.
9 But Festus, wishing to gain favor with the Jewish leaders, having answered Paul said, "Are you willing having gone up to Jerusalem to be judged there before me concerning these things?"
But: Grk. de, conj. Festus: Grk. ho Phēstos. See verse 1 above. wishing: Grk. thelō, pres. part., to have a desire for something or have a purpose for something; will, wish, desire. to gain: Grk. katatithēmi, aor. mid. inf., to lay up for one's disposal, to do something in order to gain something in return, a quid pro quo. favor: an expression of generosity. with the Jewish leaders: The plural noun refers to the chief priests and principal men mentioned in verse 2 above and who had accompanied Festus to Caesarea. Since the Jewish leaders had complied with the demand to bring their prosecution to Caesarea Festus took the opportunity to extend an olive branch for the sake of political advantage.
having answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. part. See verse 4 above. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 2 above. said: Grk. legō, aor., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative. In the LXX legō translates Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. The Greek verb "say" functions here as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. Are you willing: Grk. thelō, pres. having gone up: Grk. anabainō, aor. part. See verse 1 above. to: Grk. eis, prep. Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma. See verse 1 above.
to be judged: Grk. krinō, aor. pass. inf., to separate or distinguish between options, i.e. judge; to come to a decision by making a judgment, either positive (a verdict in favor of) or negative (which rejects or condemns) (HELPS). In the LXX krinō is used to translate three Hebrew words: din, rib and shaphat, generally of issuing a judgment in a legal context (DNTT 2:363). there: Grk. ekei, adv., 'in that place, there. before: Grk. epi, prep. me: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. Festus poses a hypothetical question of moving the venue of the trial from Caesarea to Jerusalem. He would still preside as judge in the trial.
concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, concerning. these things: neut. pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. The plural pronoun refers to the three categories of charges in the previous verse. Festus recognized that the first two of the charges pertained directly to matters of Jewish law (see verse 19 below) and the Romans allowed the Jews to govern themselves by their own laws. Festus likely dismissed the third charge based on his own investigation.
Festus had already told the Jewish leaders in private that he would not conduct the trial in Jerusalem (verse 5 above), so presenting the hypothetical question to Paul and gaining his agreement would give the public appearance of concern for the position of the Jewish authorities. Changing the venue of the trial to handle the first two charges would certainly please the Jewish leaders given their original request. The hypothetical question also provided assurance that his presence would prevent any violence or injustice against Paul. Of course, as Benson points out, Festus could have ordered the change of venue without asking Paul, but in the providence of God Festus did not take this action, thereby enabling the will of God to be accomplished.
10 Then Paul said, "I am standing before the tribunal of Caesar, where it behooves me to be judged. I have done nothing wrong to the Jews, as also you very well know.
Then: Grk. de, conj. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 2 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. See the previous verse. I am: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 5 above. standing: Grk. histēmi, perf. part., may mean (1) cause to be in a place or position; or (2) be in an upright position, used of bodily posture. The second meaning applies here. before: Grk. epi, prep. the tribunal: Grk. ho bēma. See verse 6 above. of Caesar: Grk. Kaisar. See verse 8 above. where: Grk. hou, adv. used to introduce information about a location. it behooves: Grk. dei, pres., conveys the idea of something that's necessary, something that must or needs to happen; must, necessary, ought. me: Grk. egō, first person pronoun.
to be judged: Grk. krinō, pres. pass. inf. See the previous verse. A Roman citizen could not be compelled to renounce the right to a Roman tribunal. I have done nothing: Grk. oudeis, adj. used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, none, nothing. wrong: Grk. adikeō, aor., acting wickedly, doing wrong or doing harm to others as defined by Torah. HELPS adds, "especially to inflict undeserved hurt by ignoring God's justice, i.e. acting contrary to what is divinely approved." to the Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 2 above. Paul repeats his strong denial of the charges alleged against him. Luke's narrative clearly acquits Paul of any moral wrongdoing.
as: Grk. hōs, adv. used to express comparison, time, purpose, and consequence; here of consequence. also: Grk. kai, conj. you: Grk. su, second person pronoun. very well: Grk. kallion, adv. The adverb occurs only here in the Besekh. know: Grk. epiginōskō, aor. part., "know about," here referring to familiarity with something through observation, experience or receipt of information. Paul alleges that Festus had already received enough information that he could have decided the matter in Paul's favor.
11 Therefore, if indeed I have done wrong and have committed something worthy of death, I do not refuse to die; but if there is nothing of which those men accuse me, no one is able 'to make a favor of' me to them. I appeal to Caesar."
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. indeed: Grk. mén, adv. Most versions don't translate the adverb. The opening phrase introduces a hypothetical statement for the sake of argument. I have done wrong: Grk. adikeō, pres. See the previous verse. The present tense is used to give vividness to a supposed past event. and: Grk. kai, conj. have committed: Grk. prassō, perf., to engage in activity with focus on productivity; do, perform, engage in, carry out. The verb is often associated with evil or harmful conduct (e.g., Luke 23:41; Rom 1:32; 2:1-3; 7:15; 13:4). something: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. worthy: Grk. axios, having worth or value, in the sense of being weighed on a scale.
of death: Grk. thanatos, death, which may be used (1) of natural death; (2) of death as a penalty; (3) of the manner of death; (4) fig. of death as a personification; (4) fig. of spiritual death; and (5) fig. of eternal death (BAG). The second meaning is intended here. Speaking to the Roman governor Paul speaks of a standard required by Roman law as applicable to a Roman citizen. The capital punishment for Roman citizens was beheading. I do not: Grk. ou, adv. refuse: Grk. paraiteomai, pres. mid., to avert by entreaty or seek to avert, here meaning to refuse or decline. to die: Grk. apothnēskō, aor. inf., to cease to live, generally used of physical death, whether natural or violent.
but: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei. Paul introduces another hypothetical scenario. there is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 5 above. nothing: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 10 above. of which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. those men: pl. of Grk. houtos, masc. demonstrative pronoun. accuse: Grk. katēgoreō, pres., 3p-pl. See verse 5 above. me: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. Paul implies that the charges against him have no basis in fact. no one: Grk. oudeis ("including you O Governor"). is able: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid., to be capable of doing or achieving; be able.
to make a favor of: Grk. charizomai, aor. mid. inf., may mean (1) to grant as a favor, to give graciously to; or (2) to discharge from obligation, including forgiveness, whether a financial obligation or liability for offense or wrongdoing. The first meaning is intended here in terms of the desire of Festus mentioned in verse 9 above. me: Grk. egō. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Paul revealed that he saw through the façade of fairness presented by Festus.
I appeal: Grk. epikaleō (from epi, "upon" and kaleō, "to call"), pres. mid., may mean (1) to give a name or nickname to; call, name; or (2) call upon for help, aid or intercession; invoke, appeal to, call upon for oneself. The second meaning applies here. to Caesar: Grk. Kaisar. See verse 8 above. Paul did not manipulate circumstances to fulfill the prophecy of Yeshua (Acts 23:11), but resorted to the only legal recourse available to prevent Festus from turning him over to Judean authorities. Stern notes that right of appeal to the highest authority was available to Roman citizens since the founding of the Roman Republic in 509 B.C.
Caesar was the supreme pontiff (Latin pontifex, priest), and as such regulated the religion of the state; the permanent censor, and as such could give or recall the privileges of citizenship at his pleasure; and the final Court of Appeal from all subordinate tribunals (Ellicott). Whether Paul believed he would gain justice from Nero is unknown, but he certainly knew the outcome if the Judean authorities had their way. Suetonius offered this analysis of jurisprudence under Nero, at least in the first half of his reign.
"In the administration of justice he was reluctant to render a decision to those who presented cases, except on the following day and in writing. The procedure was, instead of continuous pleadings, to have each point presented separately by the parties in turn. Furthermore, whenever he withdrew for consultation, he did not discuss any matter with all his advisers in a body, but had each of them give his opinion in written form; these he read silently and in private and then gave a verdict according to his own inclination, as if it were the view of the majority." (Suetonius, The Life of Nero, XV.1).
12 Then Festus, having conferred with the council, answered, "You have appealed to Caesar, to Caesar you shall go."
Then: Grk. tote, temporal adv. that focuses on a time or circumstance that is closely associated with what precedes in the narrative; at that time, then, thereupon. Festus: Grk. ho Phēstos. See verse 1 above. having conferred: Grk. sullaleō, aor. part., engage thoughts with, to talk with, to speak or discuss together. with: Grk. meta, prep. the council: Grk. ho sumboulion may refer to (1) engagement in deliberation by a group; or (2) a deliberative or advisory body. The second meaning applies here. The governors and procurators of provinces had a board of assessors or advisers with whom they took counsel before rendering judgment (Thayer).
answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. See verse 4 above. You have appealed: Grk. epikaleō, perf. mid. See the previous verse. to Caesar: Grk. Kaisar. See verse 8 above. to Caesar: Grk. Kaisar. you shall go: Grk. poreuomai, fut. mid., may mean (1) to move from one area to another; go, journey, make one's way, transport, travel; or (2) in an ethical sense, to conduct oneself, live, walk. The first meaning applies here. From the point of view of Festus the appeal of Paul to Caesar provided a good solution to his dilemma.
According to Ramsay an appeal to the supreme court could not be made by everybody that chose (178). Such an appeal had to be permitted and sent forward by the provincial governor; and only a serious case would be entertained. Moreover the case of a very poor man would not likely be granted an appeal. There is little doubt that the citizen's right of appeal to the Emperor was hedged in by fees and pledges. There is always one law for the rich man and another for the poor. Felix had hoped for a bribe from Paul (Acts 24:26), which implies that Paul was a man of means.
Paul had the means to pay the expenses of the four men under a Nazirite vow (21:23). And, being given room and board in the governor's palace for four years was not free. Paul did not appear before the world as a penniless wanderer, earning his living from tentmaking. A poor person would not be treated with such marked respect as Paul received. The governor Felix and his wife, the Princess Drusilla, accorded him an interview and private conversation. He will also be granted an audience with King Agrippa and Queen Bernice. A poor man never receives such attentions, or rouses such interest.
In appealing to the Emperor, Paul clearly chose an expensive line of trial. All this had certainly been estimated before the decisive step was taken. Paul had counted the cost; he had reckoned the gain which would accrue to the Kingdom of God if the Emperor pronounced in his favor. His past experience gave him every reason to hope for a favorable outcome before a purely Roman tribunal, where the influence of Judean leaders would have little or no power.
August A.D. 59
Festus Consults with King Agrippa II, 25:13-22
Now: Grk. de, conj. some: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 1 above. having passed: Grk. diaginomai, aor. mid. part., to go through, to elapse, to pass time. The indefinite time period could indicate the month of July having passed. Agrippa: Grk. Agrippas, the name of two descendants of Herod the Great. This one is Marcus Julius Agrippa, as he was known on official coins using his name as a Roman citizen (Bruce), otherwise known as Herod Agrippa II, son of Herod Agrippa I and Cypros (Acts 12:1), grandson of Aristobulus, and the great-grandson of Herod the Great. Luke only uses the Jewish name rather than the Roman name in his narrative.
the king: Grk. basileus, king or chief ruler. In the LXX basileus appears frequently to translate Heb. melek (SH-4428). In the Tanakh the title "king" was not associated with the size of territory governed, but the authority wielded. A monarchy controlled the executive, judicial and legislative functions of government. When Herod Agrippa I died in 44 AD (Acts 12:23) the son was a youth of only 17 years and considered too young to assume the government of Judea. Claudius therefore placed the country under the care of a procurator ("Herod," ISBE). In AD 50 Agrippa II received from Caesar Claudius, at whose court he was brought up (Ant. XIX, 9:2, XX, 1:1), the principality of Chalcis.
Four years afterwards (A.D. 53), from the same emperor, Agrippa II was given the territory of the former tetrarchy of Philip (Gaulanitis, Batanea and Trachonitis) and Abila, a city in the Decapolis, along with the title of king (Ant. XX, 7:1). Three years later he received a further considerable increase of territory from Caesar Nero, who added the regions of Tiberias and Taricheae, on the west side of the Sea of Galilee, together with Julias in Perea and fourteen neighboring villages (Ant. XX, 8:4). In token of gratitude to Nero, Agrippa changed the name of Caesarea Philippi, the capital of Gaulanitis, to Neronias (Bruce). See the Additional Note below on Agrippa.
and: Grk. kai, conj. Bernice: Grk. Bernikē (ber-nee'-kay), the popular Hellenistic pronunciation of the Macedonian name of Berenice (Berenikē), which is the spelling found in Josephus (the Greek text) and Roman histories. Julia Bernice, born in AD 28, was the daughter of Herod Agrippa I and Kupros, and sister of Drusilla (Acts 24:24) and Agrippa II. She married first her uncle Herod, king of Chalcis (Ant. XIX, 5:1), which technically did not violate the Torah incest laws (Lev 18:6-16). This marriage produced two sons Berenicianus and Hyrcanus (Wars, II, 11:6).
Bruce notes that such marriages took place in the Herod family. Herodias, daughter of Aristobulus, was married successively to two of her uncles, Philip and Antipas; and her daughter Salome was married to her uncle, Philip the Tetrarch. Josephus provides this further report on Bernice:
"But as for Bernice [sic], she lived a widow a long while after the death of Herod [king of Chalcis], who was both her husband and her uncle; but when the report went that she had criminal conversation with her brother, [Agrippa, junior,] she persuaded Poleme, who was king of Cilicia, to be circumcised, and to marry her, as supposing that by this means she should prove those calumnies upon her to be false; and Poleme was prevailed upon, and that chiefly on account of her riches. Yet did not this matrimony endure long; but Bernice left Poleme, and, as was said, with impure intentions." (Ant. XX, 7:3)
After deserting her husband Bernice went to live with her brother. On inscriptions she is entitled "queen" and even "great queen" (Bruce). See the Additional Note on Bernice below. Whatever the rumors there might have been about Bernice Luke is careful not to suggest an improper relationship with Agrippa.
Like her sister and brother Bernice would be considered Jewish (cf. Acts 24:24) because the Herodian family was Jewish as far as a national identity. According to Josephus, Herod the Great was an Idumean (Edomite) on his father's side and an Arabian on his mother's (Ant. XIV, 1:3 and 7:3). The Edomites, who inhabited the Sinai peninsula south of the Dead Sea, had been constant enemies of the Jews, but they were finally subjugated by John Hyrcanus, a Hasmonean leader of the 2nd century BC. He left them in possession of their land, but compelled them to undergo circumcision and adopt the Jewish law (cf. Ant. XIII, 9:1; XV 7:9; Wars IV, 5:5).
came down: Grk. katantaō (from kata, "down," and antaō, "to come opposite, meet face to face, meet with"), aor., 3p-pl., to come down to, and used of coming or arriving at a destination in the course of travel; come to, arrive at, reach. to: Grk. eis, prep. Caesarea: Grk. Kaisareia. See verse 1 above. Luke does not mention the point of origin, but probably it was Neronias, some 40 miles northeast of Caesarea. having greeted: Grk. aspazomai, pl. aor. mid. part., to address with some form of special recognition or expression of affection; used here of extending a salutation and showing regard in respect of office. Festus: Grk. Phēstos. See verse 1 above. The verbal clause suggests that Agrippa and Bernice conducted an official state visit to establish relations with the new governor.
Additional Note: Later Years of Agrippa and Bernice
Agrippa II did his best to prevent the revolt of Jewish citizens against Rome in AD 66 when Florus was procurator. He made a strong speech to the citizens of Jerusalem (Wars, II, 16:3-4), but he did not dissuade them from war. When his efforts failed, he remained loyal to Rome and was rewarded after the war with a further increase of territory and (in 75) with promotion to praetorian rank (Bruce). He corresponded with Josephus about the latter's historical tome Wars, confirming its accuracy (Life §65).
Agrippa II died c. the year 100, being the last reigning prince of the Herodian house. The date is based on the statement found by Photius I (810-893), patriarch of Constantinople, in a historical work of Justus of Tiberius (A Chronicle of the Kings of the Jews), a Jewish contemporary of Josephus, that Agrippa died in the third year of the reign of Trajan (Bibliotheca 33). The history of Justus is now lost with only a remaining fragment. Josephus published his Antiquities in the reign of Domitian (c. 94) and nowhere mentions the death of Agrippa II.
Like her brother, Bernice tried to prevent the hostilities between Jews and Romans. In the spring of that year she performed a religious vow in Jerusalem for thirty days, like the Nazirite, which included offering sacrifices, abstaining from wine, cutting her hair, and going barefoot. She hoped this religious devotion would prevent a massacre of Jews by Florus (Wars II, 15:1). She even made a direct appeal to Florus to show leniency toward the Jews, but he showed her no respect. She later wrote to Cestius Gallus, the governor of Syria, to complain about the illegal practices of Florus (Wars II, 16:1).
However, after Jewish zealots set fire to the house in which she and Agrippa were living, necessitating flight from Jerusalem (Wars II, 17:6), she became an ardent pro-Flavian, the new dynasty of Vespasian and his two sons, Titus and Domitian. Roman historians reported that during the Jewish war Bernice began an affair with Titus, who might have married her if not for opposition from prominent citizens of Rome (Tacitus, The Histories II:2; Suetonius, The Life of Titus 7:1-2). Upon the succession of Titus as emperor in 79 he dismissed Bernice from Rome. It is not known what happened to Bernice after her final dismissal from Rome.
14 Now as many days they were staying there, Festus laid before the king the things against Paul, saying, "There is a certain man having been left by Felix in bonds;
Now: Grk. de, conj. as: Grk. hōs, adv. many: pl. of Grk. pleiōn, adj. See verse 6 above. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 1 above. they were staying: Grk. diatribō, impf., 3p-pl. See verse 6 above. there: Grk. ekei, adv. See verse 9 above. The opening clause implies that Agrippa and Bernice stayed longer than required for an official visit (Stern). Festus: Grk. ho Phēstos. See verse 1 above. laid before: Grk. anatithēmi, aor. mid., to lay something before someone for consideration, set forth, lay before. the king: Grk. ho basileus, i.e., Agrippa. See the previous verse. the things: neut. pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun in reference to the multiple charges of which Paul was accused. Many versions translate the plural article with the singular "case."
against: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 2 above. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 2 above. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 9 above. The narrative begun by Festus repeats Luke's narrative of 24:27 and then in the following seven verses Festus recounts his involvement in the matter of Paul contained in the narrative of the previous twelve verses. There is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 5 above. a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 5 above. This pronoun is often used to distinguish someone of consequence in contrast to others, or to denote a collective commonality of those in a group, the former in this instance.
man: Grk. anēr. See verse 5 above. It is noteworthy that Festus said "a certain man" rather than "a certain Jew." having been left: Grk. kataleipō, perf. pass. part., to leave or leave behind and used to indicate (1) departure from a person or thing; (2) abandonment or forsaking; (3) leaving someone behind who cannot be taken with the one departing. The third meaning applies here. by: Grk. hupo, prep., properly, "under," often meaning "under authority" of someone (HELPS), and used here to indicate the efficient cause. Felix: Grk. Phēlix, third name of Marcus Antonius Felix and procurator of the Roman province of Judaea (c. AD 52‑59). For further biographical information see the comment on .
in bonds: Grk. desmios, one who is bound, thus "bound, in bonds, captive or prisoner" (Thayer). Some versions inaccurately translate the noun as "in prison" (CEB, EXB, GW, ICB, ISV, NOG, NCV, NLV, NMB, NRSV, WE) or "in jail" (CEV). Other versions have "as a prisoner" (AMP, CSB, DLNT, LEB, MPNT, MW, MRINT, NASB, NET, NIV, NTE, TLV). However, Paul was not incarcerated in a dungeon or prison. He was given quarters in the Praetorium, the governor's residence (Acts 23:35). A better translation is "in custody" (CJB, NABRE, NJB).
The noun simply alludes to the fact that Paul was kept bound to a Roman soldier (cf. Acts 21:33; 22:29; 24:27; 26:29; 28:17, 20; Eph 3:1; 4:1; 6:20; Col 4:3; Phm 1:1, 9). He was not mistreated nor denied access to his friends.
15 concerning whom, my having been to Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges, asking for a judgment against him.
The narrative of Festus in this verse repeats and adds to Luke's narrative of verses 1-3 above. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. See verse 9 above. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 7 above. The pronoun refers to Paul. my: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. having been: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. part., to become, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being by birth or natural process; be born or produced; (2) to be made or performed by a person; or (3) equivalent to come to pass or happen, used of historical events or something happening to someone; be, take place, happen, occur. The third meaning applies here.
to: Grk. eis, prep. See verse 1 above. Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma. See verse 1 above. the chief priests: pl. of Grk. ho archiereus. See verse 2 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. the elders: pl. of Grk. presbuteros may mean (1) ranked as superior in age, older, older one; or (2) ranked in terms of official responsibility, elder. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX presbuteros translates Heb. zaqen ("zaw-kane", SH-2205), old, advanced in days (Gen 18:11), and a technical term for a man with official authority (Ex 17:5). In the Tanakh elders as a group are found in tribes, communities and in the body of seventy appointed by Moses.
In the Besekh the term is used for synagogue officers (Luke 7:3), for the Jewish Sages (Matt 15:2), and for members of the temple ruling council in Jerusalem (Matt 16:21; cf. John 11:47). There were also elders, wealthy men and the heads of patrician families, that were members of the Great Sanhedrin. of the Jews: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 2 above. The phrase "elders of the Jews" occurs only here in the Besekh and three times in the Tanakh (Ezra 5:5; 6:7, 14). There is no certainty as to the identification of these "elders of the Jews," but they would be the same as the "principal men" mentioned in verse 2 above. They were likely members of the Temple ruling council since they are associated with the chief priests (cf. Acts 23:14).
brought charges: Grk. emphanizō, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 2 above. asking: Grk. aiteō, pl. pres. mid. part. See verse 3 above. for a judgment: Grk. katadikē, a judgment of condemnation, used of a guilty verdict which would lead to carrying out a sentence. against: Grk. kata, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. This last clause adds to Luke's narrative above, implying the Jewish leaders had already passed a sentence of death without the benefit of trial.
16 to whom I answered that it is not the custom with Romans to hand over a certain man before the one being accused should have the accusers face-to-face and he should gain an opportunity of a defense concerning the accusation.
The narrative of Festus in this verse repeats and adds to Luke's narrative of verses 4-5 above. to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" (DM 110), to, towards, with. Here the preposition denotes association or being in company with others and speaking face to face. whom: pl. of Grk. hos, relative pronoun; used in reference to the chief priests and elders mentioned in the previous verse. I answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. See verse 4 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 8 above. The conjunction serves to introduce a direct quotation, which is an addition to the reported statement of Festus in verse 5 above. it is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 5 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 6 above.
the custom: Grk. ethos, a way of doing things marked by recurring procedure; custom or practice. with Romans: pl. of Grk. Rhōmaios, adj., a Roman or Roman citizen, here the former. to hand over: Grk. charizomai, pres. mid. inf. See verse 11 above. The verb refers to an administrative procedure involving recognition of jurisdiction as a matter of policy and good will. a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 5 above. man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos translates three Hebrew words: (1) adam (Gen 1:26-27); (2) ish (Gen 2:23-24) and (3) enosh (Ps 8:4-5), which are generally used for an adult male, husband, a human in contrast to animals or mankind (DNTT 2:564).
before: Grk. prin, adv., at a point in time earlier than the moment of a specified event or activity; before. the one: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. being accused: Grk. katēgoreō, pres. mid. part. See verse 5 above. should have: Grk. echō, pres. opt., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. The optative mood is the mood of strong contingency, the mood of possibility. It is sort of a weaker subjunctive (DM 172). Of interest is that the optative mood appears most frequently in the writings of Luke. In this context, the mood indicates a condition (a formal trial) that should happen, although in reality it might not have always happened.
the accusers: pl. of Grk. ho katēgoros, one who accuses. face-to: Grk. kata, prep. face: Grk. prosōpon is used to mean (1) the face, by which someone is identified; (2) the countenance or visage projected by someone; and (3) a personal presence or the act of appearing before someone. The third meaning is intended here. and: Grk. te, conj. See verse 2 above. he should gain: Grk. lambanō, aor. opt., to lay hold of by actively accepting what is offered; gain, obtain, receive (HELPS). an opportunity: Grk. topos, may mean (1) a spatial area, often an unnamed geographical area or a named locality; (2) a position with obligation; or (3) a circumstance that offers a chance to do something. The third meaning applies here.
of a defense: Grk. apologia, response to charges of misconduct, here with the focus on speaking in defense. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. the accusation: Grk. ho egklēma, indictment for improper conduct and here an exposure to a judicial process; accusation. The noun occurs only two times in the Besekh (also Acts 23:29). The noun alludes to what would be presented in a Roman court. The reply of Festus constitutes a rebuke of the Jewish leaders for their decision to pass a sentence of death without having a formal trial, contrary to their own court rules. A capital case had to be tried by a Court of Twenty-Three. There were two such courts in Jerusalem.
In the formal trial there were no attorneys. Instead, the accusing witness stated the offense in the presence of the accused and the accused could call witnesses on his own behalf. The court questioned the accused, the accusers and the defense witnesses. According to the Torah proof of a capital crime was established by the testimony of two or three eye-witnesses (Deut 17:6; 19:15). Judicial decisions were made by majority vote, except that imposition of the death penalty by the Court of Twenty-Three required a minimum majority vote of two (San. 4:1). See my article Jewish Jurisprudence.
Festus repeats a longstanding policy of Roman law as articulated by a man named Piso when the Roman Senate debated whether to bring charges against Marc Antony: "Our law, Senators, requires that the accused shall himself hear the charge preferred against him and shall be judged after he has made his own defense" (Appian, Civil Wars, Book III, 54.2).
17 Therefore having assembled here, having made not one delay, the next day having sat on the tribunal I ordered the man to be brought.
The narrative of Festus in this verse repeats Luke's narrative of verse 6 above. Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. having assembled: Grk. sunerchomai, aor. part., may mean (1) to come together as a collection of persons; (2) come together in a close personal relationship; or (3) come or go together with someone. The first meaning applies here. here: Grk. enthade, adv., in this place, here. The opening clause alludes to the Jewish leaders coming to Caesarea for the trial. The adverb "here" could mean either the city of Caesarea or more specifically the building in which the trial took place, probably the former (cf. verses 4-5 above).
having made: Grk. poieō, aor. part. See verse 3 above. not one: Grk. mēdeis, adj. (from mē, "not" and heis, "one"), not even one, nothing, none. The adjective constitutes an emphatic denial. delay: Grk. anabolē, the putting off of something to a later time, postponement, delay. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Festus insured Paul's right to a speedy trial. the next day: Grk. ho hexēs, adv., next in order, the period immediately following. The adverb is found five times in the Besekh, all in Luke-Acts. having sat: Grk. kathizō, aor. part. See verse 6 above.
on: Grk. epi, prep. the tribunal: Grk. ho bēma. See verse 6 above. He actually sat on a curule chair, which itself was on the tribunal, or platform. This physical action declared that the court was in session. I ordered: Grk. keleuō, aor. See verse 6 above. Sitting in the curule chair emphasized the governor's authority to issue commands, which a centurion quickly obeyed. the man: Grk. ho anēr. See verse 5 above. Stressing the formality of the situation Festus says "man" rather than "Paul." to be brought: Grk. agō, aor. pass. inf. See verse 6 above. A centurion was dispatched to the Praetorium to bring back Paul.
18 concerning whom having stood, the accusers brought not one charge of which I was expecting crimes,
concerning: Grk. peri, prep. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. having stood: Grk. histēmi, aor. pass. part. The opening clause refers to Paul standing before Festus. the accusers: pl. of Grk. katēgoros. See verse 16 above. The noun refers to the chief priests and elders. brought: Grk. pherō, impf., 3p-pl., properly means to bear, carry (bring) along, especially temporarily or to a definite or prescribed conclusion (HELPS). not one: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 10 above. charge: Grk. aitia may mean (1) the basis for something; reason, cause; (2) as a legal term a crime worthy of death; or (3) an accusation or charge of crime (Thayer). The third meaning applies here.
of which: Grk. hos. I was expecting: Grk. huponoeō, impf., have an idea constituting preconception; assume, expect, suppose. crimes: pl. of Grk. ponēros, adj., may mean (1) ethical deviation from an acceptable moral or social standard, particularly as prescribed by God in his Word; or (2) in a bad or undesirable state or condition, especially of physical circumstances. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX ponēros translates Heb. ra (SH-7451), with the same range of meaning, first in Genesis 2:9 (DNTT 1:565).
In the Tanakh ra is used to describe both that which is ethically evil (Gen 6:5; Deut 1:35; 4:25) and something that is unpleasant, disagreeable or injurious (e.g. Gen 24:50; Deut 22:14; 28:35; Isa 3:11). Festus used the term with its cultural meaning of offenses requiring capital punishment.
19 but certain disputes concerning their own religion they had with him; and concerning a certain Yeshua having been dead, whom Paul was affirming to be alive.
but: Grk. de, conj. certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. The pronoun is used here to denote a collective commonality. disputes: pl. of Grk. zētēma, matter of a dispute; controversial matter or subject. Use of this term stands in contrast to the expectation of crimes in the previous verse. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. their own: Grk. ho idios, adj., belonging to oneself, one's own. religion: Grk. deisidaimonia (from deidō, 'to dread' and daimōn, 'a deity'), a way of dealing with deity and related matters, belief system. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. In pagan culture the term could be used in a positive sense to mean piety and religion in general and reverence for the gods, or used in a negative sense to mean superstition.
The word is akin to the adjective deisidaimonēsteros ("god-fearing") that Paul used to describe Athenian religion (Acts 17:22). Use of the term "religion" by Festus indicates that he recognized the strong religious orientation with uncompromising beliefs held by Jews. They feared their God. So, in speaking to Agrippa, the Jewish king, Festus did not impugn Jewish religion. Stern offers this comment:
"Gallio in similar circumstances had refused to sit in judgment on a matter of internal concern among Jews (18:12–16). Festus was less wise. Nevertheless this Gentile’s description of the dispute as one about certain points of their own religion is additional evidence that Messianic Judaism is a form of Judaism."
they had: Grk. echō, impf., 3p-pl. See verse 16 above. with: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 16 above. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. and: Grk. kai, conj. concerning: Grk. peri. a certain: Grk. tis. This pronoun is often used to distinguish someone of consequence in contrast to others and here to distinguish one person from others with the same name. Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH is salvation" (BDB 221) (cf. Matt 1:21). For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
having been dead: Grk. thnēskō, perf. part., to die, generally used of physical death, whether natural or violent. The reference to the death of Yeshua alludes to some indisputable facts that even non-believing scholars agree on:
● Yeshua was a real historical person.
● Yeshua was tried by the Roman ruler Pontius Pilate.
● Yeshua was put to death by crucifixion.
● Yeshua was buried in a nearby tomb.
● Yeshua's tomb was found empty.
whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 2 above. was affirming: Grk. phaskō, impf., state with assurance or confidence; affirm, assert, claim. to be alive: Grk. zaō, pres. inf., be in the state of being physically alive; living. Paul had previously proclaimed to Jewish audiences the certainty of Yeshua risen from death (Acts 13:33; 17:3, 18; 18:5, 28; 20:21; 22:6-10; 23:6; 24:15, 21). For Paul the resurrection of Yeshua was not just a doctrine to be believed. Only his encounter with the risen Messiah could account for the radical transformation of one who had been committed to the destruction of the Messianic movement.
20 Now I, being at a loss concerning this inquiry, was asking if he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there to be judged concerning these things.
The narrative of Festus in this verse repeats Luke's narrative of verse 9 above. Now: Grk. de, conj. I: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. being at a loss: Grk. aporeō, pres. mid. part., to be in a state of bewilderment; be perplexed, be at a loss. concerning: Grk. peri, conj. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. inquiry: Grk. zētēsis, act of delving into a subject or issue; inquiry, investigating, questioning. Festus makes a significant admission about his uncertainty in how to bring the case to a conclusion. He implies that at this point Agrippa might be a better judge of the matter.
was asking: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 9 above. if: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 5 above. he was willing: Grk. boulomai, pres. mid. opt., may mean (1) have in one's mind; wish, want, desire; or (2) reach a decision upon deliberation; intend, decide, plan, will. The first meaning applies here. to go: Grk. poreuomai, pres. mid. inf. See verse 12 above. to: Grk. eis, prep. Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma. See verse 1 above. and there: Grk. kakei, conj., a combination of kai, 'and,' with ekei, 'in that place, there;' serving as a simple connective. to be judged: Grk. krinō, pres. pass. inf. See verse 9 above. concerning: Grk. peri. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos.
The recounting of Festus about his question of Paul fails to mention that his motive for asking the question was that he had hoped to do a favor to the Jews by changing the venue to Jerusalem. Festus was not being totally honest with Agrippa.
21 But Paul having appealed to be kept for the decision of the Emperor, I ordered him to be detained until that I might send him to Caesar."
The narrative of Festus in this verse repeats Luke's narrative of verses 10-12 above. But: Grk. de, conj. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 2 above. having appealed: Grk. epikaleō, aor. part. See verse 11 above. to be kept: Grk. tēreō, aor. pass. inf. See verse 4 above. A few versions erroneously translate the verb as "to be held in prison" (CEV, GW, ISV, NOG). Paul was not in prison! The use of the verb "kept" in this position following "having appealed" denotes the contents of the expressed appeal, namely, the legal demand which it contained. After this appeal permitted by Roman law had been validly made, no further proceedings might be taken by the authorities at their own instance against the appellant (Meyer).
for: Grk. eis, prep. the decision: Grk. ho diagnōsis, a distinguishing, determination, decision in a judicial sense. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. of the Emperor: Grk. ho sebastos, adj., meriting exceptional respect, the official Greek equivalent of the Latin Augustus in reference to the Roman emperor. The adjective occurs only three times in the Besekh, all in Acts (verse 25 below; 27:1). The honorific (with overtones of divinity) had first been given by the Roman Senate to Octavianus in 27 BC (Suetonius, The Life of Augustus, 7:2). The title was then adopted by his successors. In 8 BC the eight month of the Julian calendar was renamed August in honor of the first emperor as July had been dedicated to Julius.
I ordered: Grk. keleuō, aor. See verse 6 above. him: Grk. autos. to be detained: Grk. tēreō, pres. pass. inf. Some versions erroneously translate the verb as Paul being held in or put in prison (GW, ISV, TLB, NOG, NLV, RGT, WE). until: Grk. heōs, prep., a marker of limit, here of time; till, until. that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. The pronoun is used here to mean "such time as." I might send: Grk. anapempō (from ana, "up," and pempō, "send"), aor. subj., may mean (1) to send up to one whose special authority is recognized; or (2) to send back. The first meaning is intended here. him: Grk. autos. to: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 16 above. Caesar: Grk. Kaisar. See verse 8 above.
Transferring a person to an official because of jurisdiction was practiced by Pilate who sent Yeshua to Herod Antipas for trial since Antipas ruled Galilee (Luke 23:7). Festus affirmed that he complied with Roman law to honor Paul's appeal, but offered no explanation as to how long Paul would be kept in Caesarea nor what preparation was required for the transfer to Rome for a hearing with Caesar Nero. The waiting was likely contingent on the best time for making the sea voyage. The dangerous season for navigation lasted from Sept. 14 to Nov. 11 (Ramsay 184). See the article Roman Empire Sailing for more information.
22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, "I also have been wanting to hear the man myself." "Tomorrow," he said, "you will hear him."
Then: Grk. de, conj. Agrippa: Grk. Agrippas. See verse 13 above. said to: Grk. pros, prep. Festus: Grk. ho Phēstos. See verse 1 above. I also: Grk. kai, conj. have been wanting: Grk. boulomai, impf. mid. See verse 20 above. The imperfect tense is used to denote continuous action in past time. to hear: Grk. akouō, aor. inf., may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about; or (4) a legal term of hearing a case. The first meaning dominates here. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173).
Nicoll thus suggests that the imperfect tense of boulomai is used of a wish entertained by Agrippa for some time out of curiosity, because of his official relationship to Judaism. The verb boulomai is comparable to the wishing (Grk. thelō) of Herod Antipas who had long wanted to meet Yeshua face-to-face, having heard much about him (Luke 23:8). It's very likely that Agrippa had heard stories about Paul, but he couldn't be certain of their reliability. He wanted to judge the man for himself.
the man: Grk. ho anthrōpos. See verse 16 above. The use of anthrōpos instead of anēr as used by Festus (verse 14 and 17 above) may reflect Agrippa showing respect to Paul as someone of distinction. myself: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Tomorrow: Grk. aurion, adv., generally means the next day, tomorrow, but also may lack a nocturnal interval and mean soon, in a short time. The meaning is substantiated in the next verse. he said: Grk. phēmi, pres., lit. "he says." See verse 5 above. The use of phēmi instead of the standard legō is significant and the present tense gives the action a certain vividness.
you will hear: Grk. akouō, fut. mid. him: Grk. autos. The reply of Festus seems to have an emotional tone of anticipation. Festus had "heard" Paul, more than what Luke recorded (cf. verse 10 and 19 above). Festus was probably curious how Agrippa would react to the religious teaching of Paul.
Paul Before King Agrippa II, 25:23-27
23 So, the next day Agrippa and Bernice having come with great pomp, and having entered into the auditorium with both the commanders and men of the city according to prominence, and Festus having commanded, Paul was brought in.
As usual in Luke's writing the verse is characterized by three things, specifically three groups of people. So: Grk. oun, conj. the next day: Grk. ho epaurion, adv. See verse 6 above. The first group Luke mentions is the royal party. Agrippa: Grk. ho Agrippas. See verse 13 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. Bernice: Grk. ho Bernikē (ber-nee'-kay). See verse 13 above. having come: Grk. erchomai, aor. part., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place.
with: Grk. meta, prep. great: Grk. polus, adj. See verse 7 above. pomp: Grk. phantasia, something that evokes attention through showy display; display, fanfare, pageantry, pomp, or show. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The noun refers to a festal procession (Bruce). "Pomp" suggests an entrance in rich dress, with the regalia, or ensigns of royalty carried before them, and attended with a large train and retinue of servants (Gill). Lumby notes that the children imitate their father, who formerly had sat on his throne in Caesarea arrayed in royal apparel (Acts 12:21).
and: Grk. kai. having entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. part., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. into: Grk. eis, prep. the auditorium: Grk. ho akroatērion, a place where matters or presentations of various kinds can be heard; auditorium, court room, hall. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. It was no doubt some special room attached to the governor's palace, where causes were tried (Lumby). with: Grk. sun, prep. used to denote association or close identification. both: Grk. te, conj. See verse 2 above. Luke then identifies two groups of men invited to the public gathering in which Paul will present his case to Agrippa.
the tribunes: pl. of Grk. chiliarchos, lit., "leader of a thousand," a Roman tribune that had command of a subdivision of a legion. Josephus says that five cohorts, whose full complement was one thousand men, were stationed at Caesarea (Ant. XIX, 9:2; Wars III, 4:2). Each legion had five military tribunes of equestrian (knight) class citizens. They were in many cases career officers and served many of the important administrative tasks of the Legion, but still served in a full tactical command of the cohorts during engagements. There were two other tribunes assigned to the legion, Tribunus Laticlavius (legion deputy commander) and Praefectus Castrorum (camp prefect). For information on the ancient Roman legion see UNRV History.
and: Grk. kai. men: pl. of Grk. anēr. See verse 5 above. of the city: Grk. ho polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly, a city or town; i.e., Caesarea. according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 2 above. prominence: Grk. exochē, in Greek writings any prominence or projection from a surface, as the peak or summit of a mountain, with the fig. meaning of eminence, distinction, or excellence. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. The men of prominence were civil officers and magistrates in the community, men of reputation and influence. Brown suggests the group included both Jew and Romans and notes that this was the most dignified and influential audience Paul had yet addressed, fulfilling the prediction given to Ananias (Acts 9:15). A Western addition is preserved in the Syriac Harclean margin: "who had come down from the province" (Bruce).
and: Grk. kai. Festus: Grk. ho Phēstos. See verse 1 above. having commanded: Grk. keleuō, aor. part. See verse 6 above. Paul: Grk. ho Paulos. See verse 2 above. was brought in: Grk. agō, aor. pass. See verse 6 above. Paul became a spectacle to a vast number of men, as he himself had previously said (1Cor 4:9), which in part fulfilled what Yeshua had foretold to his disciples, that they would be brought (Grk. agō) before kings and governors for a testimony (Matt 10:18). Being the last to enter the hall Paul now becomes the most significant person in the room.
24 And Festus said, "King Agrippa, and all the men being present with us, you see this one, concerning whom all the assembly of the Jewish leaders appealed to me, in both Jerusalem and here, loudly declaring he ought not to live any longer.
As usual in Luke's writing the verse is characterized by three things, specifically three categories of people: the royal party, the male guests and the Judean council. And: Grk. kai, conj. Festus: Grk. ho Phēstos. See verse 1 above. said: Grk. phēmi, pres., lit. "he says." See verse 5 above. As in verse 22 above the use of phēmi instead of the standard legō is significant and the present tense gives the action a certain vividness. King: Grk. basileus, voc. See verse 13 above. Agrippa: Grk. Agrippas, voc. See verse 13 above. The vocative case denotes direct address. The address to Agrippa no doubt implied the inclusion of Bernice.
and: Grk. kai. Festus makes a second formal address. all: masc. pl. of Grk. pas, adj., voc., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. the men: pl. of Grk. ho anēr, voc. See verse 5 above. Bruce says the masculine of anēr is formal, and Bernice would not have felt herself to be expressly ignored. being present with: Grk. sumpareimi, masc. pl. pres. part., to be present together with. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh, but it does occur in other Jewish literature (Wis. 9:10; Tobit 12:12). us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. The direct address to "all the men" would have included the tribunes and men of prominence mentioned in the previous verse, as well as a public gallery in which Luke was probably present.
you see: Grk. theōreō, pres., 2p-pl., may mean (1) pay attention to; look at, observe, watch, behold; (2) conclude on the basis of personal experience; consider, infer, see; or (3) have awareness in depth; perceive, experience. The first meaning is intended here. this one: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun; i.e., Paul standing and chained to a Roman centurion. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. all: Grk. hapas, adj., a totality of something; all, the whole, everything, all things.
the assembly: Grk. ho plēthos, relatively large number of any kind; multitude, great number. The definite article indicates "the whole number" (Thayer). Danker notes the term is used here of gathering for official business. The great majority of versions translate the noun as "multitude," "whole community" or "whole population," which completely distorts the narrative of Festus. Three versions have "assembly" (DLNT, MEV, NKJV).
of the Jewish leaders: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 2 and 7 above. The plural noun refers to members of the chief priests and principal men mentioned in verse 2 above. Festus was not referring to the Jewish population of Jerusalem or the province of Judaea as implied in the translation of most Bible versions. He had a specific group of Jews in mind. We also should not assume the "assembly of the Jewish leaders" to be synonymous with the Great Sanhedrin. The formal term for the Jewish supreme court is never used in the apostolic narratives. In practical terms this assembly would likely be the Temple ruling council.
appealed: Grk. entugchanō, aor., to approach or appeal; indicates approach to an authority with a request or plea in mind, as indicated by the context. The third person singular form of the verb emphasizes the unanimity of the appeal. to me: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. in: Grk. en, prep. both: Grk. te, conj. Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma. See verse 1 above. and: Grk. kai. here: Grk. enthade, adv. See verse 17 above. Festus explains that the content of the appeal was the same in both locations, and nothing new had been added in their presentation in Caesarea. Some versions imply that Jewish leaders in Caesarea also made a complaint about Paul, but that is not what Festus meant.
loudly declaring: Grk. boaō, pl. pres. part., use one's voice at high volume; call, cry out, shout. The Jewish leaders made their appeal from emotion and religious zeal and not from logic and evidence. he ought: Grk. dei, pres. inf. See verse 10 above. not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation, not. It differs from the other standard negative particle, oú, in that oú is objective, dealing only with facts, while mē is subjective, involving will and thought (DM 265). to live: Grk. zaō, pres. inf. See verse 19 above. any longer: Grk. mēketi, adv. of negation, no longer, not from now on, any longer.
The last clause implies "one such as he does not have the right to live one more minute." This degree of hatred and insistence of death could only be explained by demonic influence. The hostile spirit of these Jewish leaders could earn them the Maccabean label of "lawless pestilent men of Israel" (1Macc 10:61) (Meyer).
25 But I understood him to have committed nothing worthy of death; and this one himself having appealed to the Emperor, I decided to send him.
The narrative of Festus in this verse repeats elements of Luke's narrative of verses 10-12 above. But: Grk. de, conj. I: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. understood: Grk. katalambanō (from kata, "down, according to," and lambanō, "to take or receive"), aor. mid., to lay hold of or seize, whether (1) in a physical sense to grasp; seize, secure or (2) in a sense of mental grasping; comprehend, learn, perceive, understand. The second meaning applies here. The verb denotes decisive initiative to grasp something in a forceful manner and thereby making it one's own decision (HELPS). In legal terms Festus had made a summary judgment on the merits of the case without the necessity of a trial.
him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Paul. to have committed: Grk. prassō, perf. inf. See verse 11 above. nothing: Grk. mēdeis, adj. See verse 17 above. worthy: Grk. axios, adj. See verse 11 above. The adjective pertains to satisfying the requirement of law. of death: Grk. thanatos. See verse 11 above. The noun is used figuratively of capital punishment, which for a Roman citizen would be decapitation. The declaration of Festus constitutes a "finding of fact and conclusion of law." The accusers had failed to produce any evidence to sustain their prosecution and thereby under Roman law Paul could not be found guilty of a capital crime.
and: Grk. de. this one: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 9 above. himself: Grk. autos. having appealed: Grk. epikaleō, aor. part. See verse 11 above. to the Emperor: Grk. ho sebastos, adj. See verse 21 above. Festus tacitly acknowledges Paul's right as a citizen to appeal to Caesar. I decided: Grk. krinō, aor. See verse 9 above. to send him: Grk. pempō, aor., to send someone or dispatch a person with a special purpose, here the former.
Since the prosecution case had utterly failed Festus could have dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning that it would be dismissed permanently and could not be brought back to his court. However, Paul's appeal preempted such a decision (Acts 26:32).
26 Concerning whom I have not anything to write to my lord. Therefore I have brought him before you all and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that the examination having taken place, I might have something to write.
Concerning: Grk. peri, prep. See verse 9 above. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 7 above. I have: Grk. echō, pres. See verse 16 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 6 above. anything: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 5 above. The pronoun implies "anything of a criminal nature." to write: Grk. graphō, aor. inf., to write or inscribe as a physical act, generally in reference to a document. A procurator transmitting a case to the emperor was bound to send a formal report as to the matter out of which the appeal arose.
to my lord: Grk. ho kurios may mean either (1) one in control through possession, and therefore owner or master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, thus lord, master, prince, sovereign. In the LXX kurios primarily translates the sacred name YHVH (DNTT 2:511). In the Besekh kurios is used primarily of Yeshua, because Yeshua is the owner-master of his disciples. In secular use people did address or refer to rulers, magistrates and others having authority as kurios out of respect (Matt 6:24; 10:24; 13:27; 18:25; 20:8; 27:63).
However, relevant to this context is that the Greek title corresponds to the Latin title of "Dominus" (Ellicott), which Suetonius reported had been declined by Augustus (The Life of Augustus, c. 53) and Tiberius (The Life of Tiberius, c. 27), but accepted by their successors (Meyer). Caesar Nero believed he was kurios of the world and the Caesar cult, with faithful devotees scattered throughout the empire, would take offense at any other person being called kurios. Bible versions do not translate the noun here literally because Yeshua is the only one who merits the title "the Lord."
Therefore: Grk. dio, conj., wherefore, on which account, therefore. Festus introduces the reason for having the public presentation of Paul's case. I have brought: Grk. proagō, aor., may mean (1) to bring from one position to another by taking charge, to lead out; or (2) to go or come before, to precede. The first meaning is intended here. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. before: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 6 above. The preposition has the sense of "in the presence of." you all: Grk. humeis, pl. second person pronoun. The plural pronoun alludes to all the invited guests.
and: Grk. kai, conj. especially: Grk. malista, adv., most of all, especially, very much the case, particularly so. before: Grk. epi. you: Grk. su, second person pronoun. King: Grk. basileus, voc. See verse 13 above. Agrippa: Grk. Agrippas, voc. See verse 13 above. so that: Grk. hopōs, adv. See verse 3 above. the examination: Grk. anakrisis, a judicial examination. The noun was an Athenian law term for a preliminary investigation, distinct from the actual krisis, or trial (HELPS). The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. having taken place: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. part. See verse 15 above.
I might have: Grk. echō, aor. subj. something: Grk. tis. to write: Grk. graphō, aor. subj. The subjunctive mood here implies a future reference. Perhaps Festus knew that Nero preferred to have written opinions. Festus does not ask Agrippa to decide the case for him as Agrippa had no authority in Judaea. Rather, this is a collaborative effort to help Festus in framing his written report to Nero.
27 For it seems unreasonable to me in sending one bound, not also to indicate the charges against him."
For: Grk. gar, conj. it seems: Grk. dokeō, pres., may mean (1) to entertain an idea or form an opinion about something on the basis of what appears to support a specific conclusion; think, opine, regard; or (2) with the focus on that which leads to entertainment of an opinion; seemed good, esteemed, reputed. The first meaning applies here. unreasonable: Grk. alogos, adj., may mean (1) lacking reasoning capacity; or (2) being contrary to reason. The second meaning applies here. to me: Grk. egō, first person pronoun. in sending: Grk. pempō, pres. part. See verse 25 above.
one bound: Grk. desmios. See verse 14 above. Almost all versions translate the noun as "prisoner." However, Paul was not an inmate in a prison. not: Grk. mē, adv. also: Grk. kai, conj. to indicate: Grk. sēmainō, aor. inf., may mean (1) to make known, report or communicate something to someone; or (2) in relation to the future indicate beforehand, foretell (BAG). The first meaning applies here. the charges: pl. of Grk. aitia. See verse 18 above. The plural noun as used here refers to crimes specified in Roman law. against: Grk. kata, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
Festus does not imply that he would not send a report. He could recount in writing what he told Agrippa orally. The issue is that ordinarily the procurator's report would state the charges against the accused and Festus could not define a capital crime against Paul. Festus could have written the charges that the Jewish leaders specified against Paul, but none actually violated Roman law, thus presenting the conundrum for preparing a formal report.
If Paul had not been a Roman citizen Festus would likely have allowed the Jewish leaders to have their way. The Romans didn't care if Jews killed Jews, as long as it did not affect civil order. The citizenship of Paul gained at birth is a testament to the sovereign planning of God to advance the progress of the good news of Yeshua.
Ant.: Flavius Josephus (c. 37–100 A.D.), Antiquities of the Jews (Latin Antiquitates Judaicae). trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Benson: Joseph Benson (1748-1821), Commentary of the Old and New Testaments. T. Carlton & J. Porter, 1857. Online.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Brown: David Brown (1803-1897), The Acts of the Apostles, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (1871), 2 vols., by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown. Online.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Book of the Acts. Rev. ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1988. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Danker: Frederick William Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
Delitzsch: Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890), Hebrew New Testament. Leipzig, 1877. Online. (Translation into biblical Hebrew.)
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.
Ellicott: Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905), Commentary for English Readers (1878). Online.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
ISBE: James Orr, ed., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. William. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1939. Website HTML, 2011. Online.
Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.
Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.
Longenecker: Richard D. Longenecker, The Acts of the Apostles, Vol. 9, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
Lumby: J. Rawson Lumby, Acts, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Cambridge University Press, 1891. Online.
Meyer: Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (1800-1873), Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (1859). 21 vols. T&T Clark, 1880. Online.
Nicoll: W. Robertson Nicoll (1851–1923), The Expositor's Greek Testament (1897), 5 vols. Online.
Ramsay: Sir William Mitchell Ramsay (1851-1939), St. Paul the Traveler and the Roman Citizen, 10th ed., Hodder & Stoughton, 1907. Online.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. 2 Vol. Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889. Website HTML 2011 by Biblesoft, Inc. Online.
Wars: Flavius Josephus (c. 37–100 A.D.), Wars of the Jews (Latin De Bello Judaico). trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
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