Paul Before the Roman Governor
In response to his message of extravagant welcome (extending God’s grace to the Gentiles - Acts 21:28-29; 22:21) Paul experiences persecution from religious and secular authorities. Paul, like Jesus, refuses to resort to violent opposition, claims his own authority, and uses the religious and secular forces to accomplish what he believes God has called him to do.
1 Three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem 2 where the chief priests and the leaders of the Jews gave him a report against Paul. They appealed to him 3 and requested, as a favor to them against Paul, to have him transferred to Jerusalem. They were, in fact, planning an ambush to kill him along the way. 4 Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea, and that he himself intended to go there shortly. 5‘So’, he said, ‘let those of you who have the authority come down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them accuse him.’
6 After he had stayed among them for not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea; the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. 7 When he arrived, the Jews who had gone down from Jerusalem surrounded him, bringing many serious charges against him, which they could not prove. 8 Paul said in his defense, ‘I have in no way committed an offence against the law of the Jews, or against the temple, or against the emperor.’ 9 But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, asked Paul, ‘Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and be tried there before me on these charges?’ 10 Paul said, ‘I am appealing to the emperor’s tribunal; this is where I should be tried. I have done no wrong to the Jews, as you very well know. 11 Now if I am in the wrong and have committed something for which I deserve to die, I am not trying to escape death; but if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can turn me over to them. I appeal to the emperor.’ 12 Then Festus, after he had conferred with his council, replied, ‘You have appealed to the emperor; to the emperor you will go.’
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
Why do you think Paul was perceived as such a threat to the secular and religious authorities?
In what ways are Christians still a threat to the state in our own time and culture?
In his appeal to Festus, Paul is neither deferential nor defiant. What does that say about his understanding of the relationship Christians have to secular governing authorities?
Have you ever had to defy an authority to live out your understanding of what you are called to do as a Christian?
It is an irony that Festus is the means through which Paul is able to fulfill his vision of going to Rome. Can you think of another example of God fulfilling God’s purposes in surprising ways or through an unlikely person?