A BOLD APPEAL TO CAESAR
Lord, defend me against my accusers in this life.
Read ACTS 25:1–12
Paul Stands in Front of Festus
25 Three days after Festus had become leader in the country, he went from the city of Caesarea to Jerusalem. 2 The head religious leaders and the leaders of the Jews told Festus what they had against Paul. 3 They asked Festus for a favor. They wanted Paul to be brought to Jerusalem because they had plans to kill him on the way. 4 Festus told them that Paul was to be kept in Caesarea and that he would be going there soon. 5 Festus said, “If Paul has done anything wrong, let your leaders go along with me and say what they have against him.”
6 After staying with them about ten days, Festus went down to Caesarea. The next day he sat in the courtroom and asked for Paul to be brought in. 7 Paul came into the courtroom. The Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him. They said many bad things against him. But they could not prove any of the things they said. 8 Paul spoke for himself, saying, “I have done nothing wrong against the Law of the Jews or against the house of God or against Caesar.”
9 Festus was hoping to get the respect of the Jews. He asked Paul, “Will you go to the court in Jerusalem and let me say if you are guilty or not about these things?” 10 Paul said, “I am standing in front of Caesar’s court where I should be told I am right or wrong. I have done no wrong to the Jews. You know that. 11 If I have done wrong and should die, I am not trying to keep from dying. But if these things they say against me are not true, no one can give me over to them. I ask to be taken to Caesar.” 12 Festus talked to the leaders of the court. Then he said to Paul, “You have asked to be taken to Caesar. You will go to him.”
New Life Version (NLV)
Copyright © 1969, 2003 by Barbour Publishing, Inc.
“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations” (Charles Swindoll, b. 1934).
Paul continues to speak frequently with Felix over the next two years of imprisonment, which must be an agonizingly long period of detainment with limited freedom. After two years, Felix is succeeded by Porcius Festus. By all accounts, Festus is a much better ruler than his predecessor—records show greater wisdom and honesty. Festus decides that he too should hear for himself the accusations against Paul and his defense, which sets the stage for this next trial.
Today’s episode hinges on whether Festus should release Paul to the Jewish authorities. Paul knows that they are bent on killing him and have even prepared an ambush to murder him along the way to Jerusalem, so he strongly protests against this plan. He continues boldly to claim his innocence of the charges leveled against him, which cannot be proven. Eventually, Paul does something quite radical: he appeals directly to Caesar. After considering this, Festus declares, “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!” (12).
Paul is here using his full rights as a Roman citizen (cf. Acts 22:25–29). Every citizen had the right to have his case heard before Caesar or his direct representative. Paul sees this as the ultimate mission opportunity: winning his case before Caesar may lead not only to his own acquittal but possibly even the official recognition of Christianity. He takes what seems like an impossible situation and transforms it into the ultimate mission prospect, setting up an evangelistic confrontation between Christ and Caesar—and he does this by using the very Roman citizenship into which he was born.
Can you see how God is moving in the challenging setbacks of your life? How can you use your status, gifts and abilities to see Christ glorified through you?
Lord, we stand amazed at Your unparalleled ability to arrange events so as to fall in line with Your perfect will.
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