Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Acts 25 - Paul appeals to Rome

Berenice with her brother and Herod Agrippa II at Paul's trial,
St Paul's Melbourne

Acts 25 sees the appointment of a new procurator, Festus, and so the Jewish authorities lobby to bring Paul back to Jerusalem, and invites them to come to Caesarea instead (verses 1-6).  Paul, seeing he is in danger of being handed over to the Jews, appeals to Rome.  Festus involves Herod in the process, on the grounds that when he tried to find our what his crimes were from his accusers, there seemed to be nothing serious enough to warrant a death sentence.

Acts 25:
And Festus, three days after entering his province, went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem. Here the high priest and the leaders of the Jews put before him their case against Paul, and were urgent with him, asking as a favour, that he would summon Paul to Jerusalem; meanwhile they were preparing an ambush, so as to make away with him on the journey. But Festus answered that Paul was in safe keeping at Caesarea; he himself would be removing there as soon as possible; Let those of you who are men of influence, he said, travel down with me, and bring your charges against this man, if you have anything against him. So, when he had spent a week with them, or ten days at most, he went down to Caesarea; and next day, sitting on the judgement-seat, he gave orders for Paul to be brought in. 
  7 When he appeared, there were the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem, standing round him and bringing many grave accusations against him, which they could not prove; 8 while Paul said in his defence, I have committed no crime against the Jewish law, or against the temple, or against Caesar. 9 But Festus had a mind to ingratiate himself with the Jews, so he answered Paul thus, Art thou ready to go up to Jerusalem, and meet these charges before me there? 10 Upon which Paul said, I am standing at Caesar’s judgement-seat, where I have a right to be tried. As for the Jews, I have done them no wrong, as thou knowest well enough. 11 If I am guilty, if I have done something which deserves death, I do not ask for reprieve; if their charges are without substance, no one has a right to make them a present of my life. I appeal to Caesar. 12 Then Festus conferred with his council, and answered, Hast thou appealed to Caesar? To Caesar thou shalt go.
 Qui cum perductus esset, circumsteterunt eum, qui ab Jerosolyma descenderant Judæi, multas et graves causas objicientes, quas non poterant probare: 8 Paulo rationem reddente: Quoniam neque in legem Judæorum, neque in templum, neque in Cæsarem quidquam peccavi. 9 Festus autem volens gratiam præstare Judæis, respondens Paulo, dixit: Vis Jerosolymam ascendere, et ibi de his judicari apud me? 10 Dixit autem Paulus: Ad tribunal Cæsaris sto: ibi me oportet judicari: Judæis non nocui, sicut tu melius nosti. 11 Si enim nocui, aut dignum morte aliquid feci, non recuso mori: si vero nihil est eorum quæ hi accusant me, nemo potest me illis donare. Cæsarem appello. 12 Tunc Festus cum concilio locutus, respondit: Cæsarem appellasti? ad Cæsarem ibis.
13 Some days later, king Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea, to give Festus their greeting, 14 and, since he was spending several days there, Festus put Paul’s case before the king; There is a man here, he said, whom Felix left behind him in prison; 15 and when I went to Jerusalem the chief priests and elders of the Jews denounced him to me, asking for his condemnation. 16 I replied that it is not the Roman custom to pronounce a condemnation, until the accused man has been confronted with his accusers, and been given the opportunity to clear himself of the charge. 17 So they came here with me, and I did not keep them waiting; the next day, sitting on the judgement-seat, I gave orders for the man to be brought in. 18 His accusers, as they stood round him, could not tax him with any criminal offence, such as I had expected; 19 their controversies with him were concerned with scruples of their own, and with a dead man called Jesus, whom Paul declared to be alive. 20 For myself, I hesitated to enter upon the discussion of such matters; so I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem, and meet these charges there. 21 Upon which Paul appealed to have his case reserved for the emperor’s cognizance; and I gave orders that he should be kept safe until I can send him to Caesar. Then Agrippa said to Festus, I have often wished, myself, to hear this man speak. Thou shalt hear him, said he, to-morrow.
 13 Et cum dies aliquot transacti essent, Agrippa rex et Bernice descenderunt Cæsaream ad salutandum Festum. 14 Et cum dies plures ibi demorarentur, Festus regi indicavit de Paulo, dicens: Vir quidam est derelictus a Felice vinctus, 15 de quo cum essem Jerosolymis, adierunt me principes sacerdotum et seniores Judæorum, postulantes adversus illum damnationem. 16 Ad quos respondi: Quia non est Romanis consuetudo damnare aliquem hominem priusquam is qui accusatur præsentes habeat accusatores, locumque defendendi accipiat ad abluenda crimina. 17 Cum ergo huc convenissent sine ulla dilatione, sequenti die sedens pro tribunali, jussi adduci virum. 18 De quo, cum stetissent accusatores, nullam causam deferebant, de quibus ego suspicabar malum. 19 Quæstiones vero quasdam de sua superstitione habebant adversus eum, et de quodam Jesu defuncto, quem affirmabat Paulus vivere. 20 Hæsitans autem ego de hujusmodi quæstione, dicebam si vellet ire Jerosolymam, et ibi judicari de istis. 21 Paulo autem appellante ut servaretur ad Augusti cognitionem, jussi servari eum, donec mittam eum ad Cæsarem. 22 Agrippa autem dixit ad Festum: Volebam et ipse hominem audire. Cras, inquit, audies eum.
23 So, on the next day, Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp, and made their entry into the hall of judgement, attended by the captains and all the eminent persons of the city; and Paul, at Festus’ command, was brought in. 24 Then Festus said, King Agrippa, and all you who are present, you see before you a man over whom the whole Jewish body has been petitioning me, not only here but at Jerusalem, crying out that he must not be allowed to live a day longer. 25 For myself, I was satisfied that he had not done anything deserving of death; but, since he has appealed to the emperor, I have thought it best to send him, 26 and now, writing to my sovereign lord, I have no clear account to give of him. That is why I have brought him before you, and before thee especially, king Agrippa, so that the examination may afford material for my letter. 27 It would be unreasonable, I conceive, to remit a prisoner for trial without putting on record the charges that lie against him.
 23 Altera autem die cum venisset Agrippa et Bernice cum multa ambitione, et introissent in auditorium cum tribunis et viris principalibus civitatis, jubente Festo, adductus est Paulus. 24 Et dicit Festus: Agrippa rex, et omnes qui simul adestis nobiscum viri, videtis hunc de quo omnis multitudo Judæorum interpellavit me Jerosolymis, petentes et acclamantes non oportere eum vivere amplius. 25 Ego vere comperi nihil dignum morte eum admisisse. Ipso autem hoc appellante ad Augustum, judicavi mittere. 26 De quo quid certum scribam domino, non habeo. Propter quod produxi eum ad vos, et maxime ad te, rex Agrippa, ut interrogatione facta habeam quid scribam. 27 Sine ratione enim mihi videtur mittere vinctum, et causas ejus non significare.
Chrysostom (Homily 52): See what an audience is gathered together for Paul. Having collected all his guards, the governor has come, and the king, and the tribunes, with the principal men, it says, of the city. Then Paul being brought forth, see how he is proclaimed as conqueror. Festus himself acquits him from the charges...For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.

Mark how he accuses them, while he acquits him. O what an abundance of justifications! After all these repeated examinations, the governor finds not how he may condemn him. They said he was worthy of death. On this account he said also: When I found, says he that he had committed nothing worthy of death.— Of whom I have no certain thing to write to my lord. This too is a proof of Paul's spotlessness, that the judge found nothing to say concerning him. Therefore I have brought him forth, he says, before you. For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crime laid against him. Such were the great straits into which the Jews brought themselves and their rulers!  

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