Paul Asks to See Caesar
Festus became governor, and three days later he went from Caesarea to Jerusalem. The leading priests and the important Jewish leaders made charges against Paul before Festus. They asked Festus to do them a favor. They wanted him to send Paul back to Jerusalem because they had a plan to kill Paul on the way. But Festus answered, “No, Paul will be kept in Caesarea. I will be going there soon myself, and your leaders can go with me. If this man has really done anything wrong, they can accuse him there.”
Festus stayed in Jerusalem another eight or ten days and then went back to Caesarea. The next day Festus told the soldiers to bring Paul before him. Festus was seated on the judgment seat. Paul came into the room, and the Jews who had come from Jerusalem stood around him. They made many serious charges against him, but they could not prove anything. Paul defended himself, saying, “I have done nothing wrong against the Jewish law, against the Temple, or against Caesar.”
But Festus wanted to please the Jews. So he asked Paul, “Do you want to go to Jerusalem for me to judge you there on these charges?”
10 Paul said, “I am standing at Caesar’s judgment seat now. This is where I should be judged. I have done nothing wrong to the Jews, and you know it. 11 If I have done something wrong and the law says I must die, then I agree that I should die. I don’t ask to be saved from death. But if these charges are not true, then no one can hand me over to these people. No, I want Caesar to hear my case!”
12 Festus talked about this with his advisors. Then he said, “You have asked to see Caesar, so you will go to Caesar!”
Festus Asks King Agrippa About Paul
13 A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to visit Festus. 14 They stayed there many days, and Festus told the king about Paul’s case. Festus said, “There is a man that Felix left in prison. 15 When I went to Jerusalem, the leading priests and the older Jewish leaders there made charges against him. They wanted me to order his death. 16 But I told them, ‘When a man is accused of doing something wrong, Romans don’t hand him over for others to judge. First, he must face the people accusing him. And then he must be allowed to defend himself against their charges.’
17 “So when these Jews came here for the trial, I did not waste time. The next day I sat on the judgment seat and ordered Paul to be brought in. 18 The Jews stood up and accused him. But they did not accuse him of the kind of crimes I thought they would. 19 Their charges were all about their own religion and about a man named Jesus. Jesus died, but Paul said that he is still alive. 20 I did not have any idea about how to judge these matters. So I asked Paul, ‘Do you want to go to Jerusalem and be judged there?’ 21 But Paul asked to be kept in Caesarea. He wants a decision from the emperor. So I ordered that he be held until I could send him to Caesar in Rome.”
22 Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear this man too.”
Festus said, “Tomorrow you can hear him.”
23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice came to the meeting with great show, acting like very important people. They entered the room with military leaders and important men of the city. Festus ordered the soldiers to bring Paul in.
24 Festus said, “King Agrippa and all of you gathered here with us, you see this man. All the Jewish people, here and in Jerusalem, have complained to me about him. When they complain about him, they shout that he should be killed. 25 When I judged him, I did not find him guilty of any crime worthy of death. But he asked to be judged by Caesar, so I decided to send him to Rome. 26 However, I don’t really know what to tell Caesar that this man has done wrong. So I have brought him before all of you—especially you, King Agrippa. I hope that you can question him and give me something to write to Caesar. 27 I think it is foolish to send a prisoner to Caesar without making some charges against him.”