While Paul was in confinement, the Lord stood beside him, assuring him that he would bear testimony to Him in Rome, just as he had in Jerusalem. At this time, a group of more than 40 Jewish men formed a conspiracy, vowing not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. So by this time, they must have been pretty hungry, but they were working with the Sanhedrin. Now, it was their idea, but the Sanhedrin agreed to request a second appearance by Paul, so the assassins would be able to kill Paul on his way to the Council. It “just happened” that the plot was overheard by Paul’s nephew, who then reported the plans to Paul, and then to the commander. The commander probably said, “Those pesky scoundrels. I’ll fix them,” and quickly put together an impressive “body guard,” who escorted Paul to Caesarea, where he could stand trial in front of Felix. At the trial, the prosecution utterly failed to make its case. Nevertheless, Felix delayed the judicial process for two years, until Rome removed him from his postion. As we come to chapter 25, we find Festus, Felix’s replacement, trying to get off to a good start at the beginning of his administration. While he attempted to “take charge,” things did not go well in his first days on the job.
“Now three days after Festus arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. So the chief priests and the most prominent men of the Jews brought formal charges against Paul to him. Requesting him to do them a favor against Paul, they urged Festus to summon him to Jerusalem, planning an ambush to kill him along the way. Then Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea, and he himself intended to go there shortly. ‘So,’ he said, ‘let your leaders go down there with me, and if this man has done anything wrong, they may bring charges against him’” —Acts 25:1-5
Since Paul’s trial in Caesarea two years earlier, some of the faces had changed. Ananias, the high priest Paul had offended, had been replaced. In fact, in their book, The Acts of The Apostles, Charles W. Carter and Ralph Earle wrote, “Though Ananias had been replaced by a new high priest, Ishmael ben Phabi, there had been no change in the policy of the Sanhedrin.” Felix had been replaced by Festus; and Tertullus, the high-paid, silver-tongued lawyer hired by the leaders of the Sanhedrin to prosecute Paul in front of Felix, is nowhere to be seen.
Felix had been a veteran as governor of Judea, and ruled with an iron fist and his methods angered the Jews. It may very well be that the Jewish leaders Festus visited in Jerusalem were responsible, in large part, for the removal of Felix. If so, these men would be sure to convey the message to Festus that he could also be removed if he didn’t win their favor. So there was no surprise he made a prompt visit to Jerusalem.
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