Festus, having entered on his duties as governor of the province, two days later went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
The High Priests and the leading men among the Jews immediately made representations to him against Paul, and begged him--
asking it as a favour, to Paul's prejudice--to have him brought to Jerusalem. They were planning an ambush to kill him on the way.
Festus, however, replied that Paul was in custody in Caesarea, and that he was himself going there very soon.
"Therefore let those of you," he said, "who can come, go down with me, and impeach the man, if there is anything amiss in him."
After a stay of eight or ten days in Jerusalem--not more--he went down to Caesarea; and the next day, taking his seat on the tribunal, he ordered Paul to be brought in.
Upon Paul's arrival, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood round him, and brought many grave charges against him which they were unable to substantiate.
But, in reply, Paul said, "Neither against the Jewish Law, nor against the Temple, nor against Caesar, have I committed any offence whatever."
Then Festus, being anxious to gratify the Jews, asked Paul, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem, and there stand your trial before me on these charges?"
"I am standing before Caesar's tribunal," replied Paul, "where alone I ought to be tried. The Jews have no real ground of complaint against me, as in fact you yourself are beginning to see more clearly.
If, however, I have done wrong and have committed any offence for which I deserve to die, I do not ask to be excused that penalty. But if there is no truth in what these men allege against me, no one has the right to give me up to them as a favour. I appeal to Caesar."
Then, after conferring with the Council, Festus replied, "To Caesar you have appealed: to Caesar you shall go."
A short time after this, Agrippa the king and Bernice came to Caesarea to pay a complimentary visit to Festus;
and, during their rather long stay, Festus laid Paul's case before the king. "There is a man here," he said, "whom Felix left a prisoner,
about whom, when I went to Jerusalem, the High Priests and the Elders of the Jews made representations to me, begging that sentence might be pronounced against him.
My reply was that it is not the custom among the Romans to give up any one for punishment before the accused has had his accusers face to face, and has had an opportunity of defending himself against the charge which has been brought against him.
"When, therefore, a number of them came here, the next day I took my seat on the tribunal, without any loss of time, and ordered the man to be brought in.
But, when his accusers stood up, they did not charge him with the misdemeanours of which I had been suspecting him.
But they quarrelled with him about certain matters connected with their own religion, and about one Jesus who had died, but--so Paul persistently maintained--is now alive.
I was at a loss how to investigate such questions, and asked Paul whether he would care to go to Jerusalem and there stand his trial on these matters.
But when Paul appealed to have his case kept for the Emperor's decision, I ordered him to be kept in prison until I could send him up to Caesar."
"I should like to hear the man myself," said Agrippa. "to-morrow," replied Festus, "you shall." Accordingly, the next day, Agrippa and Bernice came in state
and took their seats in the Judgement Hall, attended by the Tribunes and the men of high rank in the city; and, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in.
Then Festus said, "King Agrippa and all who are present with us, you see here the man about whom the whole nation of the Jews made suit to me, both in Jerusalem and here, crying out that he ought not to live any longer.
I could not discover that he had done anything for which he deserved to die; but as he has himself appealed to the Emperor, I have decided to send him to Rome.
I have nothing very definite, however, to tell our Sovereign about him. So I have brought the man before you all--and especially before you, King Agrippa--that after he has been examined I may find something which I can put into writing.
For, when sending a prisoner to Rome, it seems to me to be absurd not to state the charges against him."