Festus travels to Jerusalem to speak to the leaders of the Jews
1 Three days after Festus began to rule in Caesarea, he travelled from there to Jerusalem. 2 When he arrived there, the leaders of the priests and the Jewish leaders told him about Paul. They spoke bad things against Paul. 3 They said to Festus, ‘Please listen to us. We really want you to bring Paul here to Jerusalem. You can judge him here. Then we would be very happy.’ They wanted to kill Paul while he was travelling to Jerusalem.
4 But Festus answered them, ‘Paul will remain in prison in Caesarea. I myself will return there soon. 5 So, your leaders should go to Caesarea with me. If this man has done anything wrong, they can speak against him there. I will listen and I will judge.’
6 Festus stayed for another eight or ten days in Jerusalem. Then he returned to Caesarea. On the next day, he sat down on his special seat as judge. He said to his soldiers, ‘Bring Paul here!’ 7 Some of the Jewish leaders had also come from Jerusalem. When Paul came into the room, they all stood round him. They began to speak to Festus against Paul. They said that he had done very many bad things. But they could not show Festus that these things were really true.
8 Then Paul spoke to show what was true. He said, ‘I have not done anything wrong against our Jewish laws or against God's Great House in Jerusalem. Also, I have not done anything wrong against your Roman ruler, Caesar.’
9 Festus wanted to make the Jewish leaders happy. So he asked Paul, ‘I would like to judge this problem in Jerusalem. Would you be happy to go there? Then I can decide if what these men are saying against you is true.’
10 Paul answered him, ‘I am already in the place where Caesar's officers judge people. This is the right place for you to judge me. I have never done anything wrong against the Jews. You yourself know very well that it is true. 11 Have I done something bad that you should kill me for it? If that is true, then I will agree to it. It is right that I should die. But these Jews are not speaking true words against me. Nobody should let them take hold of me. So now I ask you to send me to Caesar himself. I want him to be the judge.’
12 Festus talked to his officers about what Paul had said. Then he said to Paul, ‘You have asked to go to Caesar, for him to be your judge. So, prepare yourself to go to Caesar!’
King Agrippa and Bernice visit Festus
13 Several days after this, King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea. They wanted to say ‘welcome’ to Festus as the new ruler.
25:13This king was Agrippa the second. He was the son of Agrippa the first. He ruled over a part of Galilee, but he did have some authority over the Jews. He could decide who would be their most important priest. Bernice was the oldest daughter of Agrippa the first and she was the younger sister of Agrippa the second.
14 They stayed in Caesarea for many days. While they were there, Festus explained to King Agrippa the problem about Paul. He said, ‘There is a man here that Felix left in prison. 15 When I went to Jerusalem, the important Jews and the leaders of their priests spoke to me about him. They said, “Paul has done some very bad things. You should judge him and he should die.”
16 I answered them, “You are saying that this man has done wrong things. He must first stand in front of you who are speaking against him. Then he can answer you, and I can judge who is right. That is what our Roman law says must happen.”
17 So when I came back here, the Jewish leaders and the leaders of their priests came with me. I did not wait for long. On the next day I sat down on my special seat as judge. I told my soldiers to bring this man to me. 18 The men who had spoken against him stood up. I thought they would say that Paul had done some very bad thing. But they did not say that. 19 Instead, they were arguing with Paul about what the Jews teach about God. They were arguing about a man who is called Jesus. Jesus had died. But Paul was saying that he is alive. 20 I did not know how I could judge all these problems. So I told Paul, “I want to take you to Jerusalem. Would you be happy to go there? Then I will listen to what these men are saying against you. I will judge there who is right.” 21 But Paul did not want to go to Jerusalem. He said to me, “Please keep me safe here in prison. Then send me to Caesar. He himself should decide what to do with me.” So I said to my soldiers, “Guard Paul here until I send him to Caesar.” ’
22 Agrippa said to Festus, ‘I would like to hear this man myself.’
Festus replied, ‘You will hear him tomorrow.’
23 The next day, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea's public meeting room. They wore beautiful clothes to show that they were great people. Some Roman soldiers' officers and important men in the city also arrived there. Festus said to his soldiers, ‘Bring Paul here to us!’ So they brought Paul into the room. 24 Festus said, ‘King Agrippa, and everyone here today, listen to me! You see this man who is standing in front of you. Many Jews in Jerusalem, and also Jews here in Caesarea, have spoken to me about him. They say very loudly, “This man has done very bad things. He should not continue to live!” 25 But I could not find any reason to kill him. He has not done anything against our law. But he has asked for Caesar himself to judge him. So I have decided to send him to Rome. 26 But I do not know what to write about him to our ruler, Caesar. So I have brought him here to stand in front of all of you. I ask you, King Agrippa, to listen carefully to what Paul says. Then we can talk about the problem together. As a result, I will know what to write about him to Caesar. 27 I need to tell Caesar what wrong things this man has done. If I cannot do that, it would not be right to send him to Rome.’