Jesus has let Paul know that he will ‘carry My Name before kings’ (Acts 9:15). King Agrippa and his wife/sister Bernice have come to welcome Festus as tribune of Caesarea area and will stay several days. Agrippa and Bernice are Jewish. Festus is not. Festus’ focus is on secular legal oversight and rulings and Festus tells Agrippa that he has inherited Paul as prisoner from his predecessor Felix.
Festus tells Agrippa and Bernice that the Jewish high council has accusations against Paul and that he had gone to Jerusalem to investigate what charges the Jewish high council wanted to bring against Paul. In Jerusalem, Festus says, he took his seat on the tribunal. This was not an investigation but a questionary session in which Festus finds that Paul is innocent of their accusations, and since they made no charges against Paul then Festus queried Paul’s preference and Paul asked to go before the emperor.
Festus is concerned that his governorship not be tarnished in the proceedings with Paul, that Roman Law be followed precisely, and that his royal guests be involved especially since they are Jewish. Yet, having had previous examinations of Paul and knowing his story Festus could have examined and seriously looked into Paul’s statement that Jesus is alive.
There were many eyewitnesses still alive who saw Jesus after the Resurrection and these stories in themselves would have convinced Festus that his own salvation would be found through faith in Jesus Christ. Festus could have talked with the Christians of The Way and yet he did not. He could have examined Christ’s death and Resurrection too. Festus’ superior attitude and aloofness are his downfall. He shows no interest in Jesus and Paul but is very interested in his new position of power and Roman responsibility.
13 After several days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to welcome Festus. 14 Since they were staying there several days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying, “There is a man here who was left in prison by Felix. 15 When I was in Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me about him and asked for a sentence against him. 16 I told them that it was not the custom of the Romans to hand over anyone before the accused had met the accusers face to face and had been given an opportunity to make a defense against the charge. 17 So when they met here, I lost no time, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought. 18 When the accusers stood up, they did not charge him with any of the crimes that I was expecting. 19 Instead they had certain points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, but whom Paul asserted to be alive. 20 Since I was at a loss how to investigate these questions, I asked whether he wished to go to Jerusalem and be tried there on these charges. 21 But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of his Imperial Majesty, I ordered him to be held until I could send him to the emperor.” 22 Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” he said, “you will hear him.” Acts 25 13-22