Read the text here: Acts 25:1-22.

Two years have passed, and Paul remains in prison in Caesarea. Within a few days of accepting the post the new governor, Festus, travels from Caesarea to Jerusalem and meets with the Jewish leaders there. The leaders ask a favor of Festus, that Paul should be moved to Jerusalem. At this point the narrator lets us know there is yet another plot against Paul’s life; this time not by a vigilante group, but by the chief priests and other key leaders themselves.

A move of the prisoner does not occur, but Festus does agree to reopen the case. We are given a summary account of the proceedings. Paul remains confident he has not transgressed Jewish law, and he insists that he is not disloyal to the emperor. Sitting in prison for two years may have convinced Paul that he has little chance for a fair trial in Caesarea or in Jerusalem, and so he plays his final card: an appeal to Caesar. Such an appeal may save him from illicit violence at the hands of his religious opponents in Jerusalem as well as remove him from the political maneuverings in Judea.

The next move in the story has Festus, a Gentile non-Christian, giving his understanding of the conflict and Paul’s role in it. There is no mention of any threat to Roman stability or peace, rather Festus describes the charges as being religious disagreements. Festus then relates a version of the early church’s kergyma , its proclamation or preaching, “…about a certain Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive.

Here Festus serves to underscore the writer’s main point: this is an internal religious conflict between two Jewish factions. The followers of The Way, the members of those early Christian communities, are in no way a threat to the Roman Empire.

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