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Acts 25:13-21

Festus Asks King Agrippa for Advice

25:13 After several days had passed, King Agrippa 1  and Bernice arrived at Caesarea 2  to pay their respects 3  to Festus. 4  25:14 While 5  they were staying there many days, Festus 6  explained Paul’s case to the king to get his opinion, 7  saying, “There is a man left here as a prisoner by Felix. 25:15 When I was in Jerusalem, 8  the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed 9  me about him, 10  asking for a sentence of condemnation 11  against him. 25:16 I answered them 12  that it was not the custom of the Romans to hand over anyone 13  before the accused had met his accusers face to face 14  and had been given 15  an opportunity to make a defense against the accusation. 16  25:17 So after they came back here with me, 17  I did not postpone the case, 18  but the next day I sat 19  on the judgment seat 20  and ordered the man to be brought. 25:18 When his accusers stood up, they did not charge 21  him with any of the evil deeds I had suspected. 22  25:19 Rather they had several points of disagreement 23  with him about their own religion 24  and about a man named Jesus 25  who was dead, whom Paul claimed 26  to be alive. 25:20 Because I was at a loss 27  how I could investigate these matters, 28  I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem and be tried 29  there on these charges. 30  25:21 But when Paul appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of His Majesty the Emperor, 31  I ordered him to be kept under guard until I could send him to Caesar.” 32 

1 sn King Agrippa was Herod Agrippa II (a.d. 27-92/93), son of Herod Agrippa I (see Acts 12:1). He ruled over parts of Palestine from a.d. 53 until his death. His sister Bernice was widowed when her second husband, Herod King of Chalcis, died in a.d. 48. From then she lived with her brother. In an attempt to quiet rumors of an incestuous relationship between them, she resolved to marry Polemo of Cilicia, but she soon left him and returned to Herod Agrippa II. Their incestuous relationship became the gossip of Rome according to Josephus (Ant. 20.7.3 [20.145-147]). The visit of Agrippa and Bernice gave Festus the opportunity to get some internal Jewish advice. Herod Agrippa II was a trusted adviser because he was known to be very loyal to Rome (Josephus, J. W. 2.16.4 [2.345-401]).

2 sn Caesarea was a city on the coast of Palestine south of Mount Carmel (not Caesarea Philippi). See the note on Caesarea in Acts 10:1.

map For location see Map2 C1; Map4 B3; Map5 F2; Map7 A1; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

3 tn BDAG 144 s.v. ἀσπάζομαι 1.b states, “Of official visits pay ones respects toAc 25:13.”

4 sn See the note on Porcius Festus in 24:27.

5 tn BDAG 1105-6 s.v. ὡς 8.b states, “w. pres. or impf. while, when, as long asAc 1:10; 7:23; 9:23; 10:17; 13:25; 19:9; 21:27; 25:14.”

6 sn See the note on Porcius Festus in 24:27.

7 tn Grk “Festus laid Paul’s case before the king for consideration.” BDAG 74 s.v. ἀνατίθημι 2 states, “otherw. only mid. to lay someth. before someone for consideration, declare, communicate, refer w. the added idea that the pers. to whom a thing is ref. is asked for his opinion lay someth. before someone for considerationAc 25:14.”

8 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

9 tn BDAG 326 s.v. ἐμφανίζω 3 has “to convey a formal report about a judicial matter, present evidence, bring charges. περί τινος concerning someone 25:15.”

10 tn Grk “about whom.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, the relative pronoun (“whom”) has been replaced with a personal pronoun (“him”) and a new sentence started in the translation at the beginning of v. 15 (where the phrase περὶ οὗ [peri Jou] occurs in the Greek text).

11 tn BDAG 516 s.v. καταδίκη states, “condemnation, sentence of condemnation, conviction, guilty verdictαἰτεῖσθαι κατά τινος κ. ask for a conviction of someone Ac 25:15.”

12 tn Grk “to whom I answered.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, the relative pronoun (“whom”) has been replaced with a personal pronoun (“them”) and a new sentence started in the translation at the beginning of v. 16.

sn “I answered them.” In the answer that follows, Festus is portrayed in a more positive light, being sensitive to justice and Roman law.

13 tn Grk “any man.” This is a generic use of ἄνθρωπος (anqrwpos).

14 tn Or “has met his accusers in person.”

15 tn Grk “and receives.”

16 tn Or “indictment” (a legal technical term). BDAG 273-74 s.v. ἔγκλημα 1 states, “legal t.t.…ἀπολογία περὶ τοῦ ἐ. defense against the accusation Ac 25:16.” L&N 56.6 defines ἔγκλημα (enklhma) as “(a technical, legal term) a formal indictment or accusation brought against someone – ‘indictment, accusation, case.’ …‘and might receive an opportunity for a defense against the indictment’ Ac 25:16.”

17 tn BDAG 969-70 s.v. συνέρχομαι 2 states, “συνελθόντων ἐνθάδε prob. means (because of συνκαταβάντες 25:5) they came back here with (me) 25:17.”

18 tn BDAG 59 s.v. ἀναβολή states, “‘delay’…legal t.t. postponement. μηδεμίαν ποιησάμενος I did not postpone the matter Ac 25:17.” “Case” has been supplied instead of “matter” since it is more specific to the context. The participle ποιησάμενος (poihsameno") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

19 tn Grk “sitting…I ordered.” The participle καθίσας (kaqisa") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

20 tn Although BDAG 175 s.v. βῆμα 3 gives the meaning “tribunal” for this verse, and a number of modern translations use similar terms (“court,” NIV; “tribunal,” NRSV), since the bema was a standard feature in Greco-Roman cities of the time, there is no need for an alternative translation here.

sn The judgment seat (βῆμα, bhma) was a raised platform mounted by steps and sometimes furnished with a seat, used by officials in addressing an assembly or making pronouncements, often on judicial matters. The judgment seat was a familiar item in Greco-Roman culture, often located in the agora, the public square or marketplace in the center of a city.

21 tn Grk “they brought no charge of any of the evil deeds.” BDAG 31 s.v. αἰτία 3.b has “αἰτίαν φέρεινbring an accusation Ac 25:18.” Since κατήγοροι (kathgoroi, “accusers”) in the previous clause is somewhat redundant with this, “charge” was used instead.

22 tn Or “I was expecting.”

23 tn Grk “several controversial issues.” BDAG 428 s.v. ζήτημα states, “in our lit. only in Ac, w. the mng. it still has in Mod. Gk. (controversial) question, issue, argumentAc 15:2; 26:3. ζ. περί τινος questions about someth.…18:15; 25:19.”

24 tn On this term see BDAG 216 s.v. δεισιδαιμονία 2. It is a broad term for religion.

sn About their own religion. Festus made it clear that in his view as a neutral figure (and as one Luke had noted was disposed to help the Jews), he saw no guilt in Paul. The issue was a simple religious dispute.

25 tn Grk “a certain Jesus.”

26 tn Or “asserted.”

27 tn Or “Because I was undecided.” Grk “Being at a loss.” The participle ἀπορούμενος (aporoumeno") has been translated as a causal adverbial participle.

28 tn L&N 27.34 states, “ἀπορούμενος δὲ ἐγὼ τὴν περὶ τούτων ζήτησιν ‘I was undecided about how I could get information on these matters’ Ac 25:20. The clause ‘about how I could get information on these matters’ may also be rendered as ‘about how I should try to find out about these matters’ or ‘about how I could learn about these matters.’”

29 tn Or “stand trial.”

30 tn Grk “on these things.”

31 tn A designation of the Roman emperor (in this case, Nero). BDAG 917 s.v. σεβαστός states, “ὁ Σεβαστός His Majesty the Emperor Ac 25:21, 25 (of Nero).” It was a translation into Greek of the Latin “Augustus.”

32 tn Or “to the emperor” (“Caesar” is a title for the Roman emperor).

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