King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Acts 25

Paul before Festus, he appeals to Caesar. (1-12) Festus confers with Agrippa respecting Paul. (13-27)

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Paul before Festus, he appeals to Caesar

1 Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem.

2 Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him,

3 And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him.

4 But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither.

5 Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him.

6 And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought.

7 And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.

8 While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.

9 But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?

10 Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.

11 For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.

12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go.

Festus confers with Agrippa respecting Paul

13 And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus.

14 And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul’s cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix:

15 About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him.

16 To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.

17 Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth.

18 Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed:

19 But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.

20 And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters.

21 But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar.

22 Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him.

23 And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus’ commandment Paul was brought forth.

24 And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer.

25 But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him.

26 Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write.

27 For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Festus having arrived at his province, goes to Jerusalem to be inaugurated. The Jews took this opportunity of requesting S. Paul might be sent to Jerusalem, that they might accomplish the iniquitous purport of their vow. Such consequence did they attribute to the death of this one man, that they had no greater favour to ask of their new governor at his auspicious entry among them. Tirinus.

Ver. 4. It would appear, from their first request being peremptorily denied them, how little solicitous their governors were to please them. The successors of Felix and Festus were not better disposed than their predecessors. Their extortions and oppressions were pushed so far, that the Jews attempted at last to deliver themselves by rebellion, which proved their utter ruin and extirpation. Indeed it was in vain to resist, for they already began to feel the truth of our Saviour’s prediction, in their subjugation to the Gentiles. Josephus bears ample testimony to the fulfilment of the prophecy. De bel. Jud. lib. ii. c 16. &c. A.

Ver. 5. Among you that are able.[1] It may signify, such as are powerful among you, or such as are able by health, and willing. Wi.

Ver. 8. Paul making answer,[2] or his apology, by the Greek. In the Latin, giving an account. In like manner, (v. 16.) have liberty given to defend himself; in the Greek, to make his apology. In the Latin, till he take a place of defending himself.

Ver. 10. S. Paul, seeing Festus only sought a plea to get rid of his cause, by putting it into the hands of the Sanhedrim, appeals to Cæsar. According to the ordinary rules of jurisprudence, appeals are only made after sentence is pronounced; but Roman citizens had a privilege of anticipating the sentence, when the judge did any thing contrary to justice; as Festus evidently did in this case, by wishing to deliver Paul, a Roman citizen, to the tribunal of his declared enemies, the Jews. The apostle knew he was secured by making this appeal: as the Roman law declared provincial governors violators of the public peace, who should either strike, or imprison, or put to death a Roman citizen, that appealed to the emperor. Calmet. — Hence Pliny sent some Christians to Rome for this same reason, as he writes himself in his epistles. Lib. x. ep. 97. Fuerunt alii similis amentiæ, quos, quia cives Romani erant, annotavi in urbem remittendos.

Ver. 13. Agrippa. This was son of the king of the same name, who imprisoned S. Peter, and put S. James to death. Bernice was his sister, and one of the most infamous of women. Her character has merited her a place in one of Juvenal’s satires, 5th.

Ver. 19. Their own superstition.[3] Their particular religion, and manner of worshipping their God. Wi.

Ver. 21. Augustus Nero, who was then the Roman emperor.

Ver. 22. Agrippa has the same curiosity of hearing Paul, as Herod formerly had of seeing Jesus. The apostle’s name had, no doubt, become famous enough to reach the ears, and arrest the attention of Agrippa. Curiosity is certainly not the best motive a person can bring with him to the investigation of religious truth: still it may occasionally become productive of good. The king was half persuaded to embrace the Christian faith. A better motive, or more serious attention, may induce some to embrace the truth, which accident may first have discovered to them. A.

Ver. 26. To my lord. This was a title the emperors afterwards took, but which Augustus and Tiberius are said by Pliny, in his epistle to Trajan, and by Tertullian, to have refused, as too assuming and too high, ut nimis sublimem atque gloriosum. This was perhaps done, that none might bear the title at a time when the Lord of lords was to appear on the earth. Tirinus. — Whilst we can approve and admire the motives which actuated the emperors in refusing this title, we cannot go the lengths which some modern enthusiasts do, (mostly Americans, quakers, &c.) who pretend it is blasphemy to call a mortal man a lord, as if that name were incommunicable to any but the Creator of the universe. Whence they derive this article of faith it will not be easy for us to guess; certainly not from Scripture, in which the word Dominus or Lord, applied to man, occurs almost as frequently as King. Certainly not from our Saviour’s words, who give both himself and others this title, (Mark xiv. 14. et alibi passim) nor from S. Paul’s doctrine, who also uses this word indiscriminately through his epistles, Gal. iv. 1. Eph. vi. v. &c. Hence we are justified in retaining this practice, in opposition to their cavils; and in treating that opinion as superstitious and void of foundation, which makes it a necessary part of religion to use no titles. A.

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[1] V 5. Qui potentes estis, oi dunatoi en umin.

[2] V 8. Paulo rationem reddente, apologoumenou. V. 16. Locum defendendi accipiat, topon apologias laboi.

[3] V. 19. De sua superstitione, peri tes idias deisidaimonias.