Monday: Before Festus

After two years holding Paul in prison just to win the favor of the Jews, Felix was replaced by Porcius Festus as the governor of Judea (Acts 24:27). Festus ruled from A.D. 60 to 62.

Read Acts 25:1-5. How does this help reveal the hatred that preaching the truth can cause in those who don’t want to believe it?

Before Festus

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Probably because they had already failed once in their attempt to convince Felix of the charges against Paul, the leaders did not want to take any chances again. In what appears to have been Festus’ first visit to Jerusalem, they requested, as a favor to them, a change of jurisdiction, asking him to hand Paul back to them so he could be tried by the Sanhedrin in accordance with Jewish law.

Yet, the request was only a camouflage to conceal their real intent: to kill Paul. Although Festus was willing to reopen the case, he said that the hearing would take place in Caesarea, not in Jerusalem, which means that Paul would be tried by Roman law.

As soon as Festus was back in Caesarea, he convened the tribunal, and Paul’s opponents started laying out the charges against Paul (Acts 25:7). This time Luke does not repeat the charges, but based on Paul’s answer (Acts 25:8) we can see that they were similar to the ones of two years before, perhaps with the further emphasis that, for being an agitator, Paul also represented a threat to the empire.

Read Acts 25:9-12. When sensing that Festus could use him for political reasons, how did Paul react?

In the end, Festus turned out not much different from Felix with regard to his political strategies (Acts 24:27). Unwilling to lose the Jews’ support so early in his administration by declaring Paul innocent, he thought of granting them their original request: to have the apostle tried by the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem.

This, however, was not acceptable to Paul, who knew he could not expect to be treated fairly there, left to the whim of his enemies. So, capitalizing on his Roman rights, he insisted that he was entitled to be tried by a Roman tribunal, and envisaging no other way out of that precarious situation, he resolved to appeal to the highest instance of Roman justice, which was the emperor himself.

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons