Today’s reading brings us to Paul’s third defense. Chapter 25 sets it up for us.
You will want to remember that thus far, Paul has been proclaimed innocent by Claudius Lysias, a commander in the Roman army. In chapter 25, the Roman governor Festus also proclaims him innocent. The Jewish king Agrippa will make the third pronouncement of innocence – just as Jesus was pronounced innocent three times.
We know next to nothing about Festus except that, as far as the Jews were concerned, he was a welcome relief from Felix. One writer says Felix administered the power of a king with the spirit of a slave. He was mean, vindictive, authoritarian, and cruel. As his successor arrives in office, Palestine is on the verge of political revolt.
Festus like Pilate before him, wants to acquit. Like most politicians, he wants to please both sides. He can find Paul innocent of treason, turn him over to the religious court (the Sanhedrin) to stand trial for religious crimes and wash his hands of the whole matter.
But Paul is having none of it.
He maintains his innocence, as well as his right as a Roman citizen to appeal his case before Caesar himself. That will mean going to Rome. But at least, in Festus’ mind, it will get Paul out of his hair.
Paul will be sent to Rome to stand trial despite the testimony of three officials (two gentile and one Jewish) as to his innocence.
It isn’t fair.
But then again, Christians, while they must be fair, cannot expect fairness from the world. Theirs is a different and inferior value system.