Paul appeals to Caesar
1Three days after arriving in the province, Festus went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. 2The chief priests and Jewish leaders presented their case against Paul. Appealing to him, 3they asked as a favor from Festus that he summon Paul to Jerusalem. They were planning to ambush and kill him along the way. 4But Festus responded by keeping Paul in Caesarea, since he was to return there very soon himself. 5"Some of your leaders can come down with me," he said. "If he’s done anything wrong, they can bring charges against him."
6He stayed with them for no more than eight or ten days, then went down to Caesarea. The following day he took his seat in the court and ordered that Paul be brought in. 7When he arrived, many Jews who had come down from Jerusalem surrounded him. They brought serious charges against him, but they couldn’t prove them. 8In his own defense, Paul said, "I’ve done nothing wrong against the Jewish Law, against the temple, or against Caesar."
9Festus, wanting to put the Jews in his debt, asked Paul, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem to stand trial before me concerning these things?"
10Paul replied, "I’m standing before Caesar’s court. I ought to be tried here. I have done nothing wrong to the Jews, as you well know. 11If I’m guilty and have done something that deserves death, then I won’t try to avoid death. But if there is nothing to their accusations against me, no one has the authority to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!"
12After Festus conferred with his advisors, he responded, "You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go."
King Agrippa informed about Paul
13After several days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea to welcome Festus. 14Since they were staying there for many days, Festus discussed the case against Paul with the king. He said, "There is a man whom Felix left in prison. 15When I was in Jerusalem, the Jewish chief priests and elders brought charges against him and requested a guilty verdict in his case. 16I told them it is contrary to Roman practice to hand someone over before they have faced their accusers and had opportunity to offer a defense against the charges. 17When they came here, I didn’t put them off. The very next day I took my seat in the court and ordered that the man be brought before me. 18When the accusers took the floor, they didn’t charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. 19Instead, they quibbled with him about their own religion and about some dead man named Jesus, who Paul claimed was alive. 20Since I had no idea how to investigate these matters, I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem to stand trial there on these issues. 21However, Paul appealed that he be held in custody pending a decision from His Majesty the emperor, so I ordered that he be held until I could send him to Caesar."
22Agrippa said to Festus, "I want to hear the man myself."
"Tomorrow," Festus replied, "you will hear him."
23The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great fanfare. They entered the auditorium with the military commanders and the city’s most prominent men. Festus then ordered that Paul be brought in. 24Festus said, "King Agrippa and everyone present with us: You see this man! The entire Jewish community, both here and in Jerusalem, has appealed to me concerning him. They’ve been calling for his immediate death. 25I’ve found that he has done nothing deserving death. When he appealed to His Majesty, I decided to send him to Rome. 26I have nothing definite to write to our lord emperor. Therefore, I’ve brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after this investigation, I might have something to write. 27After all, it would be foolish to send a prisoner without specifying the charges against him."