Acts 25 Bible Study
Who was "Festus" (Acts 25:1) and why had he come to "the
province" (Acts 25:1)?
Two years after Paul began his 'imprisonment' in Caesarea, the Roman governor Felix put down a Jewish uprising with such brutality that the Jewish Sanhedrin complained bitterly to Rome. Felix was had been recalled to Rome and Porcius Festus had just arrived in the Roman "province" (Acts 25:1) of Judea as its new governor.
How long after his arrival in Caesarea did Festus visit Jerusalem?
Only "three days" (Acts 25:1), perhaps underscoring his eagerness to start on good terms with the people he needed to govern.
What did "the high priest and the chief men of the Jews" (Acts 15:2) ask Festus to do?
"Summon" (Acts 25:3) Paul from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
To lay an "ambush along the road to kill him" (Acts 25:3), indicating that their murderous plot was alive and well 2 years after it was hatched, as well perhaps as the effectiveness of Paul's ministry in Caesarea; had Paul's ministry in Caesarea floundered during his 2 year confinement to the Roman Praetorium, engineering his murder may not have topped the Jews' agenda while greeting their new governor, who apparently didn't fall for their scheme.
How long did Festus spend in Jerusalem?
"More than ten days". (Acts 25:6).
Who accompanied Festus from Jerusalem to Caesarea thereafter?
"The Jews who ... laid many serious complaints against Paul, which they could not prove." (Acts 25:7)
What crimes did their "complaints" (Acts 25:7) accuse Paul
of having committed?
Based on Paul's denials, they accused him of breaking "the laws of the Jews" (Acts 25:8), desecrating "the temple" (Acts 25:8) in Jerusalem and sedition "against Caesar" (Acts 25:8).
What was the logic behind Festus' proposal to Paul?
The case already had been heard in Caesarea, so there was no logic for Festus to move the trial 3 days journey away to Jerusalem and then render his verdict. He was simply "wanting to do the Jews a favor". (Acts 25:9)
Why did Paul appeal to "Caesar's judgment seat" (Acts 25:10)?
Having been sent from Jerusalem to Caesarea because the Jews had plotted his murder, Paul most probably knew that mischief was behind their desire to get him back to Jerusalem. More importantly, Rome was where Jesus wanted him to go next - "Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome" (Acts 23:11) - and this appeal would provide him an free voyage to Rome, complete with a Roman military escort. Thirdly, as a Roman citizen, Paul had the legal right to appeal to have his case heard by the Caesar himself.
What did Festus think of Paul's appeal?
He obviously felt it was justified: "You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!" (Acts 25:12)
Who were "King Agrippa and Bernice" (Acts 25:13)?
This "King Agrippa" was Herod Agrippa II, the grandson of Herod the Great. When his father, Herod Agrippa I died, Agrippa II was 17 years old, still being educated in Rome and considered too weak to rule the perpetually rebellious Judea. So a Roman governor was appointed over the province of Jews and Herod Agrippa II was later given the right to oversee the temple in Jerusalem and to appoint its high priest, as well as a small kingdom in modern Lebanon, from where he had come "to Caesarea to greet Festus" (Acts 25:13) with Bernice, his sister with whom he was alleged to be in an incestuous relationship.
Had Paul presented the Gospel during his trial before Festus?
Apparently so, as the Jews and Paul had argued "about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive". (Acts 25:19)
Did Luke record every word spoken at the trial?
Apparently not, and he wasn't required to. The Bible is not a verbatim account. Indeed, one-third of the Gospel of John is devoted to the 24 hours immediately preceding Jesus death on the cross.
Didn't "August" (Acts 25:25) die in 14 AD?
The original Greek word translated "Augustus" is sebastos, which literally means "revered". Augustus, who ruled the Roman Empire from 27 BC to 14 AD and brought relative peace - Pax Romana - to the empire was so revered that his name was being used interchangeably with the office he held, not unlike the name "Xerox" is used today interchangeably with the verb "to photocopy". Festus is referring to Paul's appeal to "Caesar" (Acts 25:11).
Who weren't present in the "auditorium" (Acts 25:23)?
The high priest and his "Jews". (Acts 25:24)?
Why weren't Paul's accusers present?
The trial was over, as was Festus' decision to send Paul to Rome?
Then why had they gathered?
First, like Lysias the commander who had sent Paul from Jerusalem to Caesarea, Festus didn't understand the nebulous charges against Paul and hoped "that after the examination has taken place I may have something to write. For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him.". (Acts 25:26-27) Second, Agrippa II wished to "also ... hear the man" (Acts 25:22). Third and most importantly, God wanted to bless Paul's ministry and those in the audience by having the Gospel preached to them.
Who was the poorest person in the room?
Probably Paul, given the attendance of "the commanders and the prominent men of the city" (Acts 25:23), as well as governor Festus and his guests of honor, King Agrippa II and Princess Bernice.
How about in the eyes of God?
"Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time - houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions - and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first." (Mark 10:23-31)
Do your eyes resembles those of the world or of God?
How do you fare in the eyes of God?