The Book of Acts: Chapter 25 (pt 3 of 16)

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We have already learned that Felix was replaced as Governor with someone named, Festus. No, this wasn’t the same Festus from Gunsmoke (sorry, you would have to be old enough to remember the show—and love westerns). Anyway, this Festus is not as well known as Felix, but what we do know shows that he was a novice and not really equipped to handle Paul’s case. In The Book of Acts, by F. F. Bruce, you read, “Felix had been an experienced administrator of Judaea when Paul’s case was submitted to him, but Festus was a novice, and his inexperience might well be exploited to Paul’s detriment.”

Felix, on the other hand, was experienced and very familiar with Judaism. After all, his wife was Jewish. In addition, Felix was familiar with Christianity (“the Way.). Festus probably didn’t understand either. History does not have a lot to tell us about Festus, but the little we know is rather kind to him:

“In the year of Felix’s recall by Nero (or possibly a little later), Porcius Festus came into the office of procurator of Judea where he lived but two years and then died in office. Little is known concerning the life or character of this man, apart from a brief account by Josephus. He appears to have been an honorable and prudent man, for the most part. Had the circumstances of his reign been more favorable, his success might have been greater. However, the impossibility of his situation was brought about by the corruption and maladministration of his predecessor, Felix. Violence, intrigue, sedition, and extreme loyalist bigotry made of the Jews an impossible people for this Roman procurator. Josephus describes the beginning of his rule thus: ‘Festus succeeded Felix as a procurator, and made it his business to correct those that made disturbances in the country. So he caught the greatest part of the robbers, and destroyed a great many of them.’ Josephus describes somewhat in detail the nature of these disorders and the measures employed by Festus to correct them. Withal his task proved impossible and the situation grew worse, a condition which may have contributed to his early death.” —Charles W. Carter and Ralph Earle, The Acts of The Apostles. (Howard Marshall adds, “Porcius Festus, who succeeded Felix as procurator, appears to have been a good ruler, although his period in office was probably too short for him to make any lasting impression on Jewish relationships with the Romans. He was probably in office from AD 58-60 to AD 62 when he died.” Howard Marshall, Acts)

If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts


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