Three days after Festus arrived in Caesarea to take up his duties as governor, he went up to Jerusalem.
The high priests and top leaders renewed their vendetta against Paul.
They asked Festus if he wouldn't please do them a favor by sending Paul to Jerusalem to respond to their charges. A lie, of course - they had revived their old plot to set an ambush and kill him along the way.
Festus answered that Caesarea was the proper jurisdiction for Paul, and that he himself was going back there in a few days.
"You're perfectly welcome," he said, "to go back with me then and accuse him of whatever you think he's done wrong."
About eight or ten days later, Festus returned to Caesarea. The next morning he took his place in the courtroom and had Paul brought in.
The minute he walked in, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem were all over him, hurling the most extreme accusations, none of which they could prove.
Then Paul took the stand and said simply, "I've done nothing wrong against the Jewish religion, or the Temple, or Caesar. Period."
Festus, though, wanted to get on the good side of the Jews and so said, "How would you like to go up to Jerusalem, and let me conduct your trial there?"
Paul answered, "I'm standing at this moment before Caesar's bar of justice, where I have a perfect right to stand. And I'm going to keep standing here. I've done nothing wrong to the Jews, and you know it as well as I do.
If I've committed a crime and deserve death, name the day. I can face it. But if there's nothing to their accusations - and you know there isn't - nobody can force me to go along with their nonsense. We've fooled around here long enough. I appeal to Caesar."
Festus huddled with his advisors briefly and then gave his verdict: "You've appealed to Caesar; you'll go to Caesar!"
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)