Acts 25:1-12: The saga continues.
“Three days after arriving in the province, Festus went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem, 2 where the chief priests and the Jewish leaders appeared before him and presented the charges against Paul. 3 They requested Festus, as a favour to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way. 4 Festus answered, ‘Paul is being held at Caesarea, and I myself am going there soon. 5 Let some of your leaders come with me, and if the man has done anything wrong, they can press charges against him there.’ 6 After spending eight or ten days with them, Festus went down to Caesarea. The next day he convened the court and ordered that Paul be brought before him. 7 When Paul came in, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood round him. They brought many serious charges against him, but they could not prove them. 8 Then Paul made his defence: ‘I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar.’ 9 Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favour, said to Paul, ‘Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there on these charges?’ 10 Paul answered: ‘I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. 11 If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!’ 12 After Festus had conferred with his council, he declared: ‘You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!’ ” NIV UK
The passing of time, and a change of governor, did not diminish the hostility of the Jews towards Paul; and the change of governor did not increase Paul’s chance of having a fair hearing (9). He still had to contend with a politician who was more concerned with the opinion polls than integrity. It was important for these Roman governors to keep well in with the Jews. They knew they could be tricky, and you could swiftly lose your prized position if they turned against you and lodged a complaint. Festus was no fool. I’m sure he ‘smelled a rat’ (3-5). Yet when it came to it, he was prepared to hang Paul out to dry if necessary (9). If it came to a choice between Paul and Festus, Paul would be expendable. Thank God, we are not ultimately in any human hands, however it may appear. Paul comes across here as a strong man. He was not rude or arrogant; but he was certainly not weak. He knew his rights and he stood his ground.
‘There are times when believers must use the law to protect themselves and the ministry. But now Festus had a problem. How could he send Paul to Caesar when he had no charges against him that could be proved? God’s people sometimes are treated like the guilty even though they are innocent. Remember Joseph, David, Daniel, and Jeremiah, not to mention our Lord Jesus Christ. In all that happened. God was fulfilling His promise to Paul that he would witness before rulers (9:15) and finally get to Rome (23:11). Being a prisoner and enduring the hearings were difficult for Paul, but he used his opportunities wisely. He believed Jesus’ words: ‘’But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony’’ (Luke 21:13).’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word,’ p.725