Acts 25:9
But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) Willing to do the Jews a pleasure.—See Note on Acts 24:27. The invitation was in itself plausible enough. It practically admitted that there was no evidence on the last head of the accusation of which he, as procurator, need take cognizance. It offered the prisoner a trial before his own national tribunal, with the presence of the procurator as a check upon violence and injustice. It is manifest from St. Paul’s answer that this was practically what Festus meant. The proposed trial would, he says, not be before Caesar’s judgment seat, and he, for his part, preferred the secular to the ecclesiastical tribunal.

Acts 25:9-12. But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure — To ingratiate himself with them by a popular action, at the beginning of his government; to gratify the prosecutors rather than the prisoner, as far as he could go with safety against one that was a citizen of Rome; answered Paul, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem and there be judged? — Festus could have ordered this without asking Paul. But God secretly overruled the whole, that he might have an occasion of appealing to Rome. In suffering times the prudence of the Lord’s people is tried as well as their patience. Being sent forth as sheep in the midst of wolves, they have need to be wise as serpents. Then said Paul — Apprehensive of the attempt which might be made upon his life in his journey, or in the city itself; I stand at Cesar’s judgment-seat — For all the courts of the Roman governors were held in the name of the emperor, and by commission from him; where — As a Roman citizen; I ought to be judged — And I insist upon my privilege of having my cause decided there; to the Jews have I done no wrong — In any respect whatever; as thou very well knowest — As thou must have perceived clearly by what has this day been examined before thee. Or, Festus might know that Paul had done the Jews no wrong, from the relation Felix had made unto him, as also from such as were present with Felix when Paul’s cause was heard. Thus it very well becomes those that are innocent to plead their innocence, and to insist upon it; it is a debt we owe to our own good name, not only not to bear false witness against ourselves, but to maintain our own integrity against those who bear false witness against us. For if I be an offender, &c. — If I have injured the Jews, and my fault be such as by law deserves death, I ask no favour; I refuse not to die — But will willingly accept the punishment of mine iniquity. But if — As I know in my own conscience, and as thou, from the course of this trial, hast the greatest reason to believe; there be none of these things — That is, that these things, whereof they accuse me — Have had no existence, and that their accusations proceed from malice, and are founded on falsehood; no man may deliver me unto them — Nor can, without palpable injustice. He expresses himself modestly, but his meaning is, Thou canst not deliver me to them; it being a governor’s business, as much to protect the innocent, as to punish the guilty. I appeal unto Cesar — Which any Roman citizen might do before sentence was passed. Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council — It was customary for a considerable number of persons of distinction to attend the Roman governors into the provinces. These constituted a kind of council, with whom they frequently advised; answered — Having called in the prisoner; Hast thou appealed unto Cesar? unto Cesar shalt thou go — For how desirous soever I am to oblige the people of my province, I will never allow myself, upon any occasion, to violate the privileges of a Roman citizen. Festus, therefore, gave proper orders for conveying him to Rome as soon as possible, that he might be there presented before the emperor himself; and, in the mean time, Paul was remanded to his confinement, and his accusers returned to Jerusalem a second time, with the mortification of not having been able to accomplish their purpose against him.

25:1-12 See how restless malice is. Persecutors deem it a peculiar favour to have their malice gratified. Preaching Christ, the end of the law, was no offence against the law. In suffering times the prudence of the Lord's people is tried, as well as their patience; they need wisdom. It becomes those who are innocent, to insist upon their innocence. Paul was willing to abide by the rules of the law, and to let that take its course. If he deserved death, he would accept the punishment. But if none of the things whereof they accused him were true, no man could deliver him unto them, with justice. Paul is neither released nor condemned. It is an instance of the slow steps which Providence takes; by which we are often made ashamed, both of our hopes and of our fears, and are kept waiting on God.But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure - Desirous of securing their favor, as he had just entered on his administration. Compare Acts 24:27. In this he evinced rather a desire of popularity than an inclination to do justice. Had he been disposed to do right at once, he would have immediately discharged Paul. Festus perceived that the case was one that did not come fairly within the jurisdiction of a Roman magistrate; that it pertained solely to the customs and questions among the Jews Acts 25:18-20; and he therefore proposed that the case should be tried before him at Jerusalem. It is remarkable, however, that he had such a sense of justice and law as not to suffer the case to go out of his own hands. He proposed still to hear the cause, but asked Paul whether he was willing that it should be tried at Jerusalem. As the question which he asked Paul was one on which he was at liberty to take his own course, and as Paul had no reason to expect that his going to Jerusalem would facilitate the cause of justice, it is not remarkable that he declined the offer, as perhaps Festus supposed he would. 9, 10. Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure—to ingratiate himself with them.

said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and … be judged … before me—or, "under my protection." If this was meant in earnest, it was temporizing and vacillating. But, possibly, anticipating Paul's refusal, he wished merely to avoid the odium of refusing to remove the trial to Jerusalem.

Willing to do the Jews a pleasure; as his predecessor, Felix, before him, Acts 24:27, to gain popular applause, and the good will of that nation; especially Felix having been displaced upon the complaint of the Jews against him.

Answered, or spake to Paul; as Acts 3:12.

Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, &c.: Festus apparently inclines to favour the Jews, though he does not command, but ask this of Paul; he being privileged as a Roman, could not against his will be forced to acknowledge the Jews for competent judges.

But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure,.... As did his predecessor Felix, Acts 24:27 he being just entered upon his new government, and having met with some caresses and civilities from the Jews at Jerusalem, by whom he had been much pressed and urged about the affair of the apostle:

answered Paul, and said, wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me? meaning by the Jewish sanhedrim, he Festus being present: this was what the Jews had requested of him when he was at Jerusalem, that he would send for Paul thither, and there let him be judged, and which request he had denied; but having been solicited and importuned by the Jews, perhaps as, they came down together, he was inclined to gratify them, and to admit of it that he should be tried at Jerusalem, before the sanhedrim, he being present; and yet he was unwilling to do this without the prisoner's consent, he being a freeman of a Roman city; fearing he should be charged with delivering up a Roman into the hands of the Jews, which might be resented by the emperor and the Roman senate, should it come to their knowledge.

{3} But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me?

(3) God does not only turn aside the counsel of the wicked, but also turns it upon their own heads.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 25:9. Χάριν καταθέσθαι] see on Acts 24:27.

θέλειςἐπʼ ἐμοῦ;) Grotius correctly renders: visne a Synedrio judicari me praesente? For that Festus meant a κρίνεσθαι by the Sanhedrim, is evident of itself from εἰς Ἱεροσ. ἀναβ. and ἐκεῖ.

ἐπʼ ἐμοῦ] coram me. Bengel aptly observes: hoc Festus speciose addit.

Paul must be asked the question, θέλεις, because he had already been delivered over to the higher Roman authority, and accordingly as a Roman citizen could not be compelled again to renounce the Roman tribunal.

If Festus had previously (Acts 25:4) without ceremony refused the request of the Jews, which was at variance with the course of Roman law, he now shows, on the other hand, after they had conformed to the ordinary mode of procedure, that he was quite willing to please them. Certainly he could not doubt beforehand that his θέλεις would be answered in the negative by Paul; yet by his question he made the Jews sensible at least that the frustration of their wish did not proceed from any indisposition on his part.

Acts 25:9. χάριν καταθέσθαι, Acts 24:27.—τοῖς Ἰ., best placed emphatically before χάριν κατ. (W.H[391]), so as to show that it was the compliance of Festus to the Jews which caused the turn which things took (Weiss).—θέλεις εἰς Ἱ.: “injustum videbatur condemnare, incommodum absolvere,” Blass.—ἐκεῖ: he makes himself the same proposal to the prisoner which had previously been suggested by the accusers, Acts 25:3.—ἐπʼ ἐμοῦ: “me præsente,” for the Sanhedrists would be the judges; otherwise, where would be the favour to the Jews? Felix may have added the words speciose, so as to reassure Paul and to obtain his acquiescence to the proposal; in Acts 25:20 omitted, but evidently from their close connection with περὶ τούτ. κρίν. they indicate that Festus would play some judicial part in the matter; cf. Acts 24:21 and 1 Corinthians 6:1. But Paul’s answer plainly shows that he thought from the words of Felix that a Jewish and not a Roman tribunal awaited him: ἐπʼ ἐμοῦ would therefore seem to mean that the Sanhedrim would judge, whilst Festus would ratify their judgment or not as seemed good to him, as Pilate had acted in the case of Christ. On the other hand it is possible that Festus may have been quite sincere in his proposal: his words at least showed that in his judgment there was no case against Paul of a political nature, and he may have thought that religious questions could be best decided before the Sanhedrim in Jerusalem, whilst he could guarantee a safe-conduct for Paul as a Roman citizen.

[391] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.

9. But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure] Better (with R. V.) “desiring to gain favour with the Jews.” Cp. Acts 24:27. Though he had not consented to their request when he was in Jerusalem, he now went some way towards doing so by his question to Paul.

Wilt thou … before me] What Festus proposed was equivalent to acquitting the Apostle of any charge which would come under Roman law. He is therefore appealed to on the other accusations. The offences against the law of the Jews and against the Temple must be heard before the Sanhedrin. Would Paul accept an acquittal on one count and submit to a trial before his own people on the rest? And Festus would be present to see that right was done.

Acts 25:9. Θέλεις; wilt thou?) Festus could have given the decree without asking Paul; but conscience kept him back, and the matter was divinely so ordered, that Paul should be given cause for making an appeal.—ἐπʼ ἐμοῦ, before me) This Festus adds plausibly. Paul answers presently, ἐπὶ τοῦ βήματος, κ.τ.λ., before the tribunal, etc.

Verse 9. - Desiring to gain favor with the Jews for willing to do the Jews a pleasure, A.V. To gain favor, etc. (see above, Acts 24:27, note). It was not unnatural that Festus, ignorant as he still was of Jewish malice and bigotry and violence, in the case of Paul, and anxious to conciliate a people so difficult to govern as the Jews had showed themselves to be, should make the proposal. In doing so he still insisted that the trial should be before him. Before me; ἐπ ἐμοῦ, as Acts 23:30 and Acts 26:2; ἐπὶ σοῦ "before thee," viz. King Agrippa in the last case, and Felix in the former. The expression is somewhat ambiguous, and may merely mean that Festus would be present in the court to ensure fair play, while the Sanhedrim judged Paul according to their Law, and so Paul seems, by his answer, to have understood it. Acts 25:9Do a pleasure

See on Acts 24:27. Rev., better, to gain favor.

Before me ( ἐπ' ἐμοῦ)

Not with him as judge, but by the Sanhedrim in his presence.

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