The Book of Acts: Chapter 26 (pt 2 of 18)

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When all the dignitaries had made their entrance, Festus gave the order for Paul to come in. Paul’s entrance must have been quite a contrast when you compare it to the pomp and splendor of all these dignitaries. Use you imagination and try to picture what it this was like. In the audience you have everyone dressed in Tux and gowns, the building was all decked out and fancy, the press was there and in walks a guy in drab coveralls; chains; hair dirty (because I am sure he hadn’t taken a shower since he had been in jail); he probably needed a shave. Oh, I realize we don’t know exactly how Paul looked, but we do know that he was in chains (Acts 26:29). But it you take into account some of the charges made against Paul, I am sure they took extra security measures to secure Paul and to insure the safety of Festus’ guests.

Festus stood up and took over the precedings, at least long enough to explain why everyone was there. The way he presented the situation wasn’t exactly accurate, or truthful, because he made it sound as if the Jewish people unanimously wanted Paul dead. I am sure the way he exaggerated the extent of Jewish opposition to Paul, was to help justify his attempt to do the Jews a favor. Well yes, some wanted him to put to death, but not all of them. What about the thousands of Jews who had become disciples of Jesus? What about all those Pharisees who had declared Paul innocent and that a spirit or an angel might have appeared to him? Nevertheless, Paul did have his enemies, and they wanted him dead.

Fetus also did not give an accurate account of his handling of Paul’s case. I guess that is not surprising, but his choice of words leaves ample room for someone to conclude (wrongly) that Festus had decided to release Paul because he was innocent, but that Paul’s appeal to Caesar had prevented him. Festus also implies that after some deliberation, he decided to grant Paul’s request and send him on to Rome. That in itself isn’t the whole story, either. Once Paul made an appeal to Caesar, there was nothing Festus could do about it. Festus certainly doesn’t tell this group (as he had to Agrippa earlier) that he didn’t really know what to do and that he tried to persuade Paul to go on trial in Jerusalem, rather than in Caesarea.

What Festus did make clear was his dilemma. When he sent Paul to stand before Caesar, he would have to have something in writing, so that Caesar would know why Paul was there. This was where Festus needed help. So, he asks the entire group to help determine just what charges should be given when he goes to see Caesar. In other words, the report to Caesar will be a “committee report.”

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

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