13 “Now when some days had passed, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and greeted Festus. 14 And as they stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying, “There is a man left prisoner by Felix, 15 and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews laid out their case against him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him. 16 I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him. 17 So when they came together here, I made no delay, 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 brought no charge in his case of such evils as I supposed. 19 Rather they had certain points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive. 20 Being at a loss how to investigate these questions, I asked whether he wanted to go to Jerusalem and be tried there regarding them. 21 But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of the emperor, I ordered him to be held until I could send him to Caesar.” 22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” said he, “you will hear him.” (Acts 25:13–22 (ESV)
Paul remained in Roman custody for some time following his appearance before Governor Festus (Acts 25:1-12). Apparently, Festus was in no hurry to send Paul to Rome in order for the apostle to appear before Caesar. The Roman Caesar at this time was Nero.
Dr. R .C. Sproul writes, “Festus fully intends to honor his commitment to send Paul to Nero. But he has a problem. Paul’s appeal places the governor in the unenviable position of having to justify sending Paul to Nero without specific charges. Nero and his officials would not take kindly to a governor who showed incompetence in judging trivial matters. Festus was unable to formulate a charge against Paul because the accusations by the Jews pertained to religious matters having nothing to do with Roman law.”
As today’s text reveals, it was during this time that King Herod Agrippa II and his sister Bernice visited Festus. Agrippa II was the great-grandson of Herod the Great (Matthew 2) and son of Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12). Agrippa II ruled the northern half of Palestine. He was also known as an expert in Jewish customs (Acts 26:1-3) and he was familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures.
Festus discussed the case concerning the Apostle Paul with the visiting royal couple. Upon hearing the details of the matter, Agrippa was interested in hearing Paul himself. Festus was agreeable and the audience would occur the next day.
The setting was set for Paul to give one of his most personal messages. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus declared that Paul would share the Gospel to kings (Acts 9:15). Providentially, the Lord arranged for this to occur. God caused all things to work out for the good (Romans 8:28). He still does.
Soli deo Gloria!