Acts 25:13-21 — Agrippa Visits Festus

13 And after some days King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to greet Festus.

14 When they had been there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying: “There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix,

15 about whom the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me , when I was in Jerusalem, asking for a judgment against him.

16 To them I answered, ‘It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.’

17 Therefore when they had come together, without any delay, the next day I sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in.

18 When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed,

19 but had some questions against him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.

20 And because I was uncertain of such questions, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these matters.

21 But when Paul appealed to be reserved for the decision of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I could send him to Caesar.”

King Agrippa (v.13) — Agrippa II, son of Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:1). When his father died, he was a youth of 17 years old, living in Rome, where he was brought up at the court of the emperor Claudius. When his uncle Herod, king of Chalcis (a district of Syria, northwest of Damascus) died some eight years later, the emperor conferred that principality on Agrippa. In A.D. 53, he gave it up, and received instead the tetrarchies of Philip and Lysanias (Luke 3:1) with the title of “king.” The government of part of Galilee and Petraea was added later by Nero. Caesarea Philippi, in Galilee, was his capital. He was the last of the Herodian dynasty to exercise sovereignty. After the fall of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), he retired to Rome, where he died about A.D. 100.

Bernice (v.13) — Eldest daughter of Agrippa I, and sister of Drusilla (Acts 24:24). She was one year younger than her brother Agrippa II, being 16 years old when her father died. When only 13 years of age, she was married to her uncle Herod of Chalcis and bore him two sons. At his death in A.D. 48, she came to reside with her brother, and the ugliest rumors were afloat as to their relationship, both among the Jews and Romans. To still these rumors, she married Ptolemon, king of Cilicia, but soon left him and returned to Agrippa. Later, she became the mistress of Titus, son of the emperor Vespasian. He discarded her in Rome upon becoming emperor, and she seems to have passed her last days there in the house of Agrippa. — The Acts of the Apostles, by Thomas Walker, pages 521-522.

Agrippa II, the last of the Herods, was not even, like his predecessors , “King of the Jews.” Luke calls him simply “the king” (v.14). The domain which Caesar had first granted Herod the Great, had been cut in two, so that Archelaius was “ethnarch” over half the province. This half had again been cut in two, so that Herod Antipas was a “tetrarch,” or governor over one quarter of a province. And the present Herod had been given even less territory, including part of Galilee, but not Judea, so that he was not even “King of the Jews.” The title “king” was conferred upon him only as a courtesy. History does record, however, that he was the appointed guardian of the temple with the right to nominate the high priest.

In this all we have further evidence of the steady decline of the nation Israel. For years the kings of Israel, who should have come from the royal line of David, and the high priests, who should have come from the priestly line of Aaron, had been appointed by heathen emperors; the Emperor directly appointing the king, giving the king, in turn, the power to name the high priest. But these Herods not only lacked the royal blood of David’s line; they were Idumaeans, aliens by birth, though they did go through the motions of embracing the Jewish religion. — Acts Dispensationally Considered, by C.R. Stam, pages 116-117.

greet (v.13) — a formal state visit by a local king to the new Roman governor

Festus consulted with Agrippa about Paul because the king was familiar with both Jewish and Roman customs

judgment (v.15) — condemnation

religion (v.19) — can mean “superstition”

Augustus (v.21) — The Greek word (Sebastos) is the equivalent of the Latin “Augustus”, a title conferred on the first emperor Octavian Caesar, and inherited by his successors. It was regarded as one of peculiar honor and sacredness. Indeed, the Greek form of it is derived from the root “to worship,” and suggests more than human glory. Festus, most likely, purposely spoke of “the Augustus” in addressing a vassal king, the better to enhance the emperor’s dignity and claims. The nearest modern representative of it would be “his imperial majesty.” — Walker, page 525.

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