Paul Makes an Appeal
1 Three days after Festus took over his duties in the province of Judea, he went from the city of Caesarea to Jerusalem. 2 The chief priests and the other important Jewish leaders informed Festus about their charges against Paul. They were urging 3 Festus to do them the favor of having Paul brought to Jerusalem. The Jews had a plan to ambush and kill Paul as he traveled to Jerusalem.
4 Festus replied that he would be returning to Caesarea soon and would keep Paul there. 5 He told them, “Have your authorities come to Caesarea with me and accuse him there if the man has done something wrong.”
6 Festus stayed in Jerusalem for eight or ten days at the most and then returned to Caesarea. The next day Festus took his place in court and summoned Paul.
7 When Paul entered the room, the Jews who had come from Jerusalem surrounded him. They made a lot of serious accusations that they couldn’t prove. 8 Paul defended himself by saying, “I haven’t broken any Jewish law or done anything against the temple or the emperor.”
9 But Festus wanted to do the Jews a favor. So he asked Paul, “Are you willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried there on these charges with me as your judge?”
10 Paul said, “I am standing in the emperor’s court where I must be tried. I haven’t done anything wrong to the Jews, as you know very well. 11 If I am guilty and have done something wrong for which I deserve the death penalty, I don’t reject the idea of dying. But if their accusations are untrue, no one can hand me over to them as a favor. I appeal my case to the emperor!”
12 Festus discussed the appeal with his advisers and then replied to Paul, “You have appealed your case to the emperor, so you’ll go to the emperor!”
King Agrippa Meets Paul
13 Later King Agrippa and Bernice came to the city of Caesarea to welcome Festus. 14 Since they were staying there for a number of days, Festus told the king about Paul’s case.
Festus said, “Felix left a man here in prison. 15 When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and the Jewish leaders brought me some information about him and asked me to condemn him.
16 “I replied to them, ‘That’s not the Roman way of doing things. A person can’t be sentenced as a favor. Before he is sentenced, he must face his accusers and have a chance to defend himself against their accusation.’
17 “So the Jewish leaders came to Caesarea with me. The next day I immediately convened court and summoned the man. 18 When his accusers stood up, they didn’t accuse him of the crimes I was expecting. 19 They were disputing with him about their own religion and about some man named Jesus who had died. But Paul claimed that Jesus is alive. 20 Their debate about these things left me puzzled. So I asked Paul if he would like to go to Jerusalem to have his case heard there. 21 But Paul appealed his case. He asked to be held in prison and to have His Majesty the Emperor decide his case. So I ordered him to be held in prison until I could send him to the emperor.”
22 Agrippa told Festus, “I would like to hear the man.”
Festus replied, “You’ll hear him to morrow.”
23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice entered the auditorium with a lot of fanfare. Roman army officers and the most important men of the city entered the auditorium with them. Festus gave the order, and Paul was brought into the auditorium.
24 Then Festus said, “King Agrippa and everyone who is present with us! All the Jews in Jerusalem and Caesarea have talked to me about this man you see in front of you. They shout that he must not be allowed to live any longer. 25 However, I don’t think that he has done anything to deserve the death penalty. But since he made an appeal to His Majesty the Emperor, I have decided to send him to Rome. 26 But I don’t have anything reliable to write our emperor about him. So I have brought him to all of you, and especially to you, King Agrippa. Then I’ll have something to write after he is cross-examined. 27 I find it ridiculous to send a prisoner to Rome when I can’t specify any charges against him.”