Summary: Paul Before Festus. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: Acts chapter 25 verses 1-22.
• A missionary was assigned to some remote islands in the Pacific.
• After three months, he sent a fax to mission headquarters:
• "I’m being plagued by rats. What shall I do?"
• Soon a crate arrived, filled with rat traps.
• However, hardly a month later the missionary sent a SECOND fax to headquarters:
• "The rats won’t take the BAIT. What shall I DO?"
• Not long after, a SECOND crate arrived,
• This crate was filled with rat poison.
• However, hardly another month passed,
• When the missionary found it necessary to send a THIRD fax to headquarters:
• "The rats won’t touch the POISON.
• Do you have any OTHER suggestion?"
• Soon he received another fax from mission headquarters:
• "We suggest you get used to the RATS!"
“In adversity we usually want God to do a REMOVING job when He wants to do an IMPROVING job. To realize the worth of the anchor, we need to feel the storm”.
The Apostle Paul experienced many difficult situations:
• Our passage tonight is an example of some of those problems.
• We are looking at Paul’s fourth defence of his life, actions and faith:
• Had he faxed home to his missionary organisation the reply he would have got;
• Would be: "We suggest you get used to the trials!"
At this particular trial (No 4) Paul is brought before a governor named Porcius Festus:
• He became governor after his predecessor Felix (you encounter him in chapter 24).
• Made a major political blunder.
• While in office Felix tried to quell a riot in Caesarea;
• He succeeded, but in a brutal and violent way, 100’s of Jews were slaughtered.
• News of his ruthless actions soon spread around the various territories,
• And the Jews outraged by the blood bath that took place,
• Sent a delegation to Rome to protest against his actions.
• As a result.
• The Emperor (Nero) recalled governor Felix back to Rome in disgrace;
• And Festus was chosen to replace him.
Fetsus was very different to Felix:
• Felix was a former slave; but Festus was a member of the Roman nobility.
• Felix was brutal & uncaring but Festus appears to be sensitive & caring.
Quote: The first-century Jewish historian Josephus described him
“As better than his predecessor (Felix) and his successor (Albinus),
he appears to have been an able leader”.
• Festus rein as governor was very brief;
• He died about two years after taking office.
• Our passage this evening divides into five sections:
• We will work though the verses and then we will finish with an application.
(1). THE ASSASSINATION PLOTTED (vs 1-5).
Three days after arriving in the province, Festus went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem,
2 where the chief priests and Jewish leaders appeared before him and presented the charges against Paul.
3 They urgently requested Festus, as a favour to them, to have Paul transferred to Jerusalem, for they were preparing an ambush to kill him along the way.
4 Festus answered, Paul is being held at Caesarea, and I myself am going there soon.
5 Let some of your leaders come with me and press charges against the man there, if he has done anything wrong.
When Festus, the new governor, started work in the province of Judea:
• He did not start with a ‘honey-moon’ period;
• He did not ease his way gradually into his new job,
• Because of the mess Felix had made during his inept rule;
• Festus inherited major political problems – we would say ‘he was thrown in at the deep end’.
Felix’s callousness and cruelty had left a legacy of profound hatred toward Rome by the Jews.
• Their hostility and suspicion would now focus in on Felix’s replacement;
• Their new Roman overlord in occupied Palestine - governor Festus.
Unlike his predecessor Felix, Festus was not a procrastinator.
• Verse 1: He moved swiftly ‘to get to grips’ with the immediate situation;
• A mere three days after arriving in Judea, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea.
• His first goal was to meet the Jewish leaders (the high priest and the Sanhedrin)
• And as much as possible, conciliate them (creep round them & try to sweeten them up)
• Festus knew that those leaders; were the key to establishing peace in Judea.
• And maintaining peace was the highest priority of a Roman provincial governor.
Festus faced a difficult challenge:
• The Jewish leaders had proven very good at manipulating their governors.
• And although they may have failed to pressure Felix into executing Paul,
• They had still forced him to keep the innocent apostle imprisoned;