Three days after Festus arrived in Caesarea to take over his new responsibilities, he left for Jerusalem,
where the leading priests and other Jewish leaders met with him and made their accusations against Paul.
They asked Festus as a favor to transfer Paul to Jerusalem. (Their plan was to waylay and kill him.)
But Festus replied that Paul was at Caesarea and he himself would be returning there soon.
So he said, "Those of you in authority can return with me. If Paul has done anything wrong, you can make your accusations."
Eight or ten days later he returned to Caesarea, and on the following day Paul's trial began.
On Paul's arrival in court, the Jewish leaders from Jerusalem gathered around and made many serious accusations they couldn't prove.
Paul denied the charges. "I am not guilty," he said. "I have committed no crime against the Jewish laws or the Temple or the Roman government."
Then Festus, wanting to please the Jews, asked him, "Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there?"
But Paul replied, "No! This is the official Roman court, so I ought to be tried right here. You know very well I am not guilty.
If I have done something worthy of death, I don't refuse to die. But if I am innocent, neither you nor anyone else has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me. I appeal to Caesar!"
Festus conferred with his advisers and then replied, "Very well! You have appealed to Caesar, and to Caesar you shall go!"
A few days later King Agrippa arrived with his sister, Bernice, a to pay their respects to Festus.
During their stay of several days, Festus discussed Paul's case with the king. "There is a prisoner here," he told him, "whose case was left for me by Felix.
When I was in Jerusalem, the leading priests and other Jewish leaders pressed charges against him and asked me to sentence him.
Of course, I quickly pointed out to them that Roman law does not convict people without a trial. They are given an opportunity to defend themselves face to face with their accusers.
"When they came here for the trial, I called the case the very next day and ordered Paul brought in.
But the accusations made against him weren't at all what I expected.
It was something about their religion and about someone called Jesus who died, but whom Paul insists is alive.
I was perplexed as to how to conduct an investigation of this kind, and I asked him whether he would be willing to stand trial on these charges in Jerusalem.
But Paul appealed to the emperor. So I ordered him back to jail until I could arrange to send him to Caesar."
"I'd like to hear the man myself," Agrippa said.And Festus replied, "You shall -- tomorrow!"
So the next day Agrippa and Bernice arrived at the auditorium with great pomp, accompanied by military officers and prominent men of the city. Festus ordered that Paul be brought in.
Then Festus said, "King Agrippa and all present, this is the man whose death is demanded both by the local Jews and by those in Jerusalem.
But in my opinion he has done nothing worthy of death. However, he appealed his case to the emperor, and I decided to send him.
But what shall I write the emperor? For there is no real charge against him. So I have brought him before all of you, and especially you, King Agrippa, so that after we examine him, I might have something to write.
For it doesn't seem reasonable to send a prisoner to the emperor without specifying the charges against him!"
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)