On at least one occasion while Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea, Felix (the Roman governor of Israel) & his wife Drusilla (who was Jewish), sent for Paul & listened to his message concerning the necessity of faith in Jesus (309). As Paul taught about righteousness, self-control & God’s coming judgment, Felix became convicted & fearful. So he abruptly dismissed Paul, promising to hear him again at a later date.
Felix really hoped that Paul’s friends would eventually pay him ransom money for Paul’s release. This never happened, but Felix did continue to listen to Paul’s teaching from time to time. In the end, however, Felix never released Paul, mainly because he wanted to keep the Jewish religious leaders happy.
Then, after two years, Festus succeeded Felix as governor. When he had taken office, he made a brief trip from Caesarea to Jerusalem. While he was there, the high priest & the Jewish elders brought more accusations against Paul. As they had with Felix before, they asked Festus to summon Paul to Jerusalem; they still intended to ambush & kill Paul along the way.
But Festus decided that he should conduct his own hearing of Paul’s case at Caesarea. He told the Jewish religious leaders to make their case against Paul at that hearing. A short time later, the hearing was convened before Festus in Caesarea. The Jewish religious leaders from Jerusalem made many accusations against Paul, but offered no proof. Paul consistently maintained his innocence, saying he hadn’t done anything against Jewish law or Roman law.
However, Festus wanted to curry favor with the Jews, so he asked Paul, “Are you willing to be tried in Jerusalem concerning these things?”
To which Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to reply, “I want to exercise my right as a Roman citizen to be judged at Caesar’s judgment seat in Rome. If it can be proved that I have broken any law, I am willing to accept the punishment, even including death. But the Jewish leaders have not proven any accusation against me. Their bias against me disqualifies them from rendering impartial justice in my case. So I appeal to Caesar.”
Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, declared: “You have appealed to Caesar; to Caesar you shall go!”
Festus was unaware that this result was intended by God all along!
God, please help me to love Your intentions over my own.
(309) Acts 24:24-25:12