For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)No man may deliver me unto them.—Literally, no man may give me up to them as a favour. The words show that he saw through the simulated fairness of the procurator, and did not shrink from showing that he did so.
I appeal unto Cæsar.—The history of this right of appeal affords a singular illustration of the manner in which the republic had been transformed into a despotic monarchy. Theoretically the emperor was but the imperator, or commander-in-chief of the armies of the state, appointed by the senate, and acting under its direction. Consuls were still elected every year, and went through the shadowy functions of their office. Many of the provinces (see Notes on Acts 13:7; Acts 18:12), were directly under the control of the senate, and were accordingly governed by proconsuls. But Augustus had contrived to concentrate in himself all the powers that in the days of the republic had checked and balanced the exercise of individual authority. He was supreme pontiff, and as such regulated the religion of the state; permanent censor, and as such could give or recall the privileges of citizenship at his pleasure. The Tribunicia potestas, which had originally been conferred on the tribunes of the plebs so that they might protect members of their order who appealed to them against the injustice of patrician magistrates, was attached to his office. As such he became the final Court of Appeal from all subordinate tribunals, and so, by a subtle artifice, what had been intended as a safeguard to freedom became the instrument of a centralised tyranny. With this aspect of the matter St. Paul had, of course, nothing to do. It was enough for him that by this appeal he delivered himself from the injustice of a weak and temporising judge, and made his long-delayed journey to Rome a matter of moral certainty.
I refuse not to die - I have no wish to escape justice. I do not wish to evade the laws, or to take advantage of any circumstances to screen me from just punishment. Paul's whole course showed that this was the noble spirit which actuated him. No true Christian wishes to escape from the laws. He will honor them, and not seek to evade them. But, like other people, he has rights; and he may and should insist that justice should be done.
No man may deliver me unto them - No man shall be allowed to do it. This bold and confident declaration Paul could make, because he knew what the law required, and he knew that Festus would not dare to deliver him up contrary to the law. Boldness is not incompatible with Christianity; and innocence, when its rights are invaded, is always bold. Jesus firmly asserted his rights when on trial John 18:23, and no man is under obligation to submit to be trampled on by an unjust tribunal in violation of the laws.
I appeal unto Caesar - I appeal to the man emperor, and carry my cause directly before him. By the Valerian, Porcian, and Sempronian laws, it had been enacted that if any magistrate should be about to beat, or to put to death any Roman citizen, the accused could appeal to the Roman people, and this appeal carried the cause to Rome. The law was so far changed under the emperors that the cause should be carried before the emperor instead of the people. Every citizen had the right of this appeal; and when it was made, the accused was sent to Rome for trial. Thus, Pliny Ephesians 10, 97 says that those Christians who were accused, and who, being Roman citizens, appealed to Caesar, he sent to Rome to be tried. The reason why Paul made this appeal was that he saw that justice would not be done him by the Roman governor. He had been tried by Felix, and justice had been denied him, and he was detained a prisoner in violation of law, to gratify the Jews; he had now been tried by Festus, and saw that he was pursuing the same course; and he resolved, therefore, to assert his rights, and remove the cause far from Jerusalem, and from the prejudiced people in that city, at once to Rome. It was in this mysterious way that Paul's long-cherished desire to see the Roman church, and to preach the gospel there, was to be gratified. Compare notes on Romans 1:9-11. For this he had prayed long Romans 1:10; Romans 15:23-24, and now at length this purpose was to be fulfilled. God answers prayer, but it is often in a way which we little anticipate. He so orders the train of events; he so places us amidst a pressure of circumstances, that the desire is granted in a way Which we could never have anticipated, but which shows in the best manner that he is a hearer of prayer.If I be an offender; if I have injured the Jews, and my fault be worthy of death, such as by law deserves death, I beg no favour.
No man may deliver me unto them; according to law, (which the Romans did punctually observe), before sentence was passed.
I appeal unto Caesar: it was lawful for any that had that privilege of the Roman citizens, to appeal; neither might they be tried against their wills in any province out of Rome. Now Paul might appeal unto Caesar:
1. To make Caesar more favourable unto himself, and to other Christians.
2. Because he thought it more safe for himself and for the church.
3. He was in part admonished to do it by Christ himself, who had told him that he must bear witness of him at Rome, Acts 23:11.
or have committed anything worthy of death; by the laws of the Romans, as sedition, murder, &c.
I refuse not to die; signifying that he did not decline going to Jerusalem, either through any consciousness of guilt, or fear of death; for if anything could be proved against him, that was of a capital nature, he did not desire to escape death; he was ready to die for it; this was no subterfuge, or shift, to evade or defer justice:
but if there be none of these things; to be found, or proved, and made to appear:
whereof these accuse me; pointing to the Jews, that came down to be his accusers, and had laid many and grievous charges against him:
no man may deliver me unto them; not justly, or according to the Roman laws; suggesting that Festus himself could not do it legally;
I appeal unto Caesar; to this the apostle was induced, partly by the conduct of the governor, who seemed inclined to favour the Jews; and partly by the knowledge he might have of their intention to lie in wait for him, should he go up to Jerusalem; and chiefly by the vision he had had, which assured him that he must bear witness of Christ at Rome, Acts 23:11.For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 25:11. From his preceding declaration that he must be judged before the imperial tribunal, and not by Jews, Paul now reasons (οὖν, as the correct reading instead of γάρ, see the critical remarks) that he accordingly by no means refuses to die, if, namely, he is in the wrong; but in the opposite case, etc. In other words: “Accordingly, I submit myself to the penalty of the Roman law, if I am guilty; but if,” etc. And, in order to be sure of the protection of Roman law, amidst the inclination of Festus to please the Jews, he immediately adds the appeal to the Emperor.
εἰ … ἀδικῶ] If I am at fault. See Krüger, Index. Xen. Anab.; Jacobitz, ad Luc. Tim. 25, p. 25 f.; Heind. ad Plat. Protag. § 4, p. 463 f. The idea of the word presupposes the having done wrong (Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. i. 5. 12), therefore the added καὶ ἄξιον θαν. πέπρ. contains a more precise definition of ἀδικῶ, and that according to the degree.
οὐ παραιτοῦμαι κ.τ.λ.] non deprecor. Comp. Joseph. Vit. 29; Herod. i. 24 : ψυχὴν δὲ παραιτεόμενον. Lys. adv. Sim. § Acts 4 : ἀξιῶ δὲ … εἰ μὲν ἀδικῷ, μηδεμιο͂ς συγγνώμης τυγχάνειν.
τὸ ἀποθανεῖν] “id ipsum agi, notat articulus,” Bengel. Comp. Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 226[E. T. 262].
εἰ δὲ οὐδέν ἐστιν ὧν] but if there exists nothing of that, of which they, etc. ὧν is by attraction for τούτων ἅ. Comp. Acts 24:8; Luke 23:14.
δύναται] namely, according to the possibility conditioned by the subsisting legal relations.
αὐτοῖς χαρίσασθαι] to surrender me to them out of complaisance. See on Acts 3:14.
Καίσαρα ἐπικαλ.] I appeal to the Emperor. See examples from Plutarch of ἐπικαλ. in Wetstein; also Plut. Graech. 16; in Dem. and others: ἐφιέναι. Certainly the revelation, Acts 23:11, contributed to Paul’s embracing this privilege of his citizenship (see Grotius in loc.; Krebs, de provocat. Pauli ad Caes. in his Opusc. p. 143 ff.). “Non vitae suae, quam ecclesiae consulens,” Augustine accordingly says, Ephesians 2.Acts 25:11. εἰ μὲν γὰρ, see critical note, “if then (οὗν) I am a wrongdoer,” referring to his standing before Cæsar’s judgment-seat, and not to the ἠδίκησα in Acts 25:10.—ἀδικεῖν: only here absolutely in N.T.; the verb occurs five times in Acts, once in Luke’s Gospel, and once in St. Matthew, but not elsewhere in the Gospels (Friedrich, p. 23).—ἄξιον θαν., i.e., according to Roman law.—οὐ παραιτοῦμαι τὸ ἀποθανεῖν: non recuso, Vulgate, so Blass; the verb is only used here in Acts, but it occurs three times in St. Luke’s Gospel, three times in Hebrews, once in Mark 15:6, W.H—In the present passage, and in 1 Timothy 4:7; 1 Timothy 5:11, 2 Timothy 2:23, Titus 3:10, Hebrews 12:25 (twice), the word is rendered “refuse,” R.V. text; but in Luke 14:18-19, the word is rendered “to make excuse”; “excused”: Jos., Ant., vii., 8, 2; but in each case the Greek verb literally means “to beg off from,” and the Latin deprecor might well express the verb both here and in Luke 14, l.c., cf. Esther 4:8 in the sense of supplicating, and for the sense as above 2Ma 2:31, 3Ma 6:27; see also Grimm sub v. for different shades of meaning. In Jos., Vita, 29, we have the phrase θανεῖνοὐ παραιτοῦμαι: upon which Krenkel insists as an instance of dependence upon Josephus, but not only is the phrase here somewhat different verbally, οὐ παραι. τὸ ἀποθ., the article expressing more emphatically, as Bengel says, id ipsum agi; but cf. the instances quoted by Wetstein of the use of similar phrases in Greek, and of the Latin deprecor, e.g., Dion. Hal., A.V., 29. τὸν μὲγ οὖν θάνατον … οὐ παραιτοῦμαι. See further Introd., p. 31.—χαρίσασθαι: “to grant me by favour,” R.V. margin, cf. Acts 3:14, Acts 25:16, Acts 27:24 (Philemon 1:22), only in Luke and Paul in N.T.; see on its importance as marking the “We” section, Acts 27:24, and other parts of Acts, Zeller, Acts, ii., 318, E.T. Paul must have known what this “giving up” to the Jews would involve.—Καίσαρα ἐπικ.: Appello: provoco ad Cæsarem: “Si apud acta quis appellaverit, satis erit si dicat: Appello.” Digest., xlix., 1, 2, except in the case of notorious robbers and agitators whose guilt was clear, ibid., 16. But we must distinguish between an appeal against a sentence already pronounced, and a claim at the commencement of a process that the whole matter should be referred to the emperor. It would appear from this passage, cf. Acts 27:21; Acts 27:26; Acts 27:32, that Roman citizens charged with capital offences could make this kind of appeal, for the whole narrative is based upon the fact that Paul had not yet been tried, and that he was to be kept for a thorough inquiry by the emperor, and to be brought to Rome for this purpose, cf. Pliny, Epist., x., 97, quoted by Schürer, Alford, and others, and similar instances in Renan, Saint Paul, p. 543, Schürer, Jewish People, div. 1., vol. ii., p. 59, and div. ii., vol. ii., p. 278, E.T., and also “Appeal,” Hastings’ B.D., and below, p. 514.—This step of St. Paul’s was very natural. During his imprisonment under Felix he had hoped against hope that he might have been released, but although the character of Festus might have given him a more reasonable anticipation of justice, he had seen enough of the procurator to detect the vacillation which led him also to curry favour with the Jews. From some points of view his position under Festus was more dangerous than under Felix: if he accepted the suggestion that he should go up to Jerusalem and be tried before the Sanhedrim, he could not doubt that his judges would find him guilty; if he declined, and Festus became the judge, there was still the manifest danger that the better judgment of the magistrate would be warped by the selfishness of the politician. Moreover, he may well have thought that at a distant court, where there might be difficulty in collecting evidence against him, he would fare better in spite of the danger and expense of the appeal. But whilst we may thus base St. Paul’s action upon probable human motives, his own keen and long desire to see Rome, Acts 19:21, and his Lord’s promise of the fulfilment of that desire, Acts 23:11, could not have been without influence upon his decision, although other motives need not be altogether excluded, as St. Chrysostom, Ewald, Neander and Meyer (see Nösgen, 435). It has been maintained that there was every reason to suppose that St. Paul would have obtained his acquittal at the hands of the Roman authorities, especially after Agrippa’s declaration of his innocence, Acts 26:32. But St. Paul’s appeal had been already made before Agrippa had heard him, and he may well have come to the conclusion that the best he could hope for from Festus was a further period of imprisonment, whilst his release would only expose him to the bitter and relentless animosity of the Jews. Two years of enforced imprisonment had been patiently borne, and the Apostle would be eager (can we doubt it?) to bear further witness before Gentiles and kings of his belief in Jesus as the Christ, and of repentance and faith towards God.
 Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.11. For if I be an offender] The best MSS. have not “For.” Read, with Rev. Ver., “If then I am a wrong-doer.” He has asserted that he was innocent so far as the Jews are concerned. If there be anything against him, it is for the civil jurisdiction of Rome, not for the religious tribunal at Jerusalem, to decide upon.
no man may deliver me unto them] The full idea of the verb is expressed by the margin of the Rev. Ver., “no man may grant me by favour.” The use of this word confirms the notion that St Paul saw through what the governor was doing. The word “may” represents the Greek “is able,” and therefore the “can” of the Rev. Ver. is to be approved. There is no power anywhere which can give me up to them.
I appeal unto Cesar] The final tribunal being the hearing of the Emperor himself.Acts 25:11. Ἀδικῶ) The present absolute (as in Colossians 3:25, ὁ ἀδικῶν), in which the preterite is involved, as in Chrys. de Sacerd. sect. 55, at the end, οὐχ ἀδικῶ. Comp. ch. Acts 26:31, πράσσει.—τὸ ἀποθανεῖν) That this was the issue at stake, is denoted by the article.—οὐδεὶς, no man) Modestly expressed; i.e. thou canst not.—ἐπικαλοῦμαι, I appeal) Sometimes we may employ legal remedies in the cause of GOD. Paul lays hold of a help towards his going to Rome, according to what was the will of God expressed in the vision, ch. Acts 23:11.Verse 11. - If then I am a wrong, doer for for if I be an offender, A.V. and T.R.; and for or, A.V.; if none of those things is true for if there be none of these things, A.V.; can give me up for may deliver me, A.V. I refuse not; οὐ παραιτοῦμαι. Here only in the Acts, and three times in Luke 14. Elsewhere, four times in the pastoral Epistles, and twice in Hebrews. Frequent in classical Greek. No man can give me up (χαρίσασθαι); as ver. 16, "to hand over as a matter of complaisance." St. Paul saw at once the danger he was in from Festus's inclination to curry favor with the Jews. With his usual fearlessness, therefore, and perhaps with the same quickness of temper which made him call Ananias "a whited wall," he said, "No man (not even the mighty Roman governor) may make me over to them at their request, to please them," and with the ready wit which characterized him, and with a knowledge of the rights which the Lex Julia, in addition to other laws, conferred on him as a Roman citizen, he immediately added, I appeal unto Caesar.
With an underlying sense of giving him up as a favor to the Jews.
I appeal (ἐπικαλοῦμαι)
The technical phrase for lodging an appeal. The Greek rendering of the Latin formula appello.
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