Evening Bible Study
Try the YouVersion “Live” / Online notes
On the day of Pentecost, the church was born. It began with the Holy Spirit
filling the believers. As the apostles preached about Jesus, the church began
By chapter seven, the church was beginning to experience persecution.
Stephen was the first one to die for his faith. One of the main men behind the
persecution was a man named Saul. But when Saul headed
for the city of Damascus to pursue the Christians there, he was knocked off his
horse by a bright light and he met Jesus. Saul is more well
known by his Roman name, Paul.
By chapter 10, the gospel began to reach even the Gentiles, starting with a
Roman Centurion named Cornelius.
In chapter 13, we began a new section of Acts as we began to focus on the
ministry of Paul.
We followed Paul on three different journeys as he planted churches in cities
like Ephesus, Philippi, and Corinth.
On his third journey, while Paul was in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover,
a riot breaks out in the Temple, and the Jews try to seize Paul and put him to
Some of the unbelieving Jews thought that Paul had brought a Gentile into
the Temple because they had seen him walking around town with a Gentile.
He had not.
The Romans stepped in to take Paul away from the crowd, but Paul was
allowed first to speak to the crowd.
Paul gave his first defense to the crowd, but they only went wild when he
mentioned that Jesus had sent him to preach to the Gentiles.
Paul’s next defense was before the Sanhedrin.
When the Romans find out that there is a Jewish conspiracy to have Paul
killed, they send him to Caesarea at night to be held
for trial before the Roman governor.
Paul’s third defense was before Felix the governor in Caesarea. But it’s now two years later, and the new governor
of Judaea is named Porcius Festus (“Pig Party”)
25:1-12 Paul and Festus
:1 Now when Festus had come to the province, after
three days he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
Porcius Festus was the Roman procurator of Judaea
His name could be translated “Pig Party”.
It is kind of ironic that the Jews are being
governed by a “pig”. How un-Kosher.
In honor of Porcius Festus, I will share one of
my favorite “Pig” stories…
One sunny day, a man was walking down the street when a truck came flying by and hit a bump in the road. As the truck sped
away a crate fell off. Excitedly the man ran over to
see what was in the crate. The man opens the crate and was
stunned to see a pig. The man didn’t know what
to do so he asked a police officer for some advice. The officer suggested that
the man take the pig to the local zoo. A few days
later while the police officer was directing traffic, he noticed this same man
driving by in a car. The officer motioned to the man so he could find out if
everything when well with his advice. The officer walked up to the car and was
stunned to see sitting next to the man... the pig! The pig was sitting upright,
with his seat belt on, wearing a baseball cap. In between them sat a six pack of soda and some popcorn. “Good afternoon officer!”
the man said. The pig looked over and gave a couple polite snorts. The stunned
officer asked the man, “I thought I told you to bring that pig to the zoo!” The
man replied, “Oh, I did, and we had so much fun today we’re going to the
“I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as
- Winston Churchill
Festus came to Judaea as things were beginning to heat up between the Jews
Festus’ predecessor, Felix, had been accused by the Jews
of great abuse.
Four years after Festus left Judaea, full scale war would break out between
the Jews and Rome, ending with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
Festus would try to calm things down with the Jews.
He would have the reputation of being a kind ruler over the Jews.
One of the problems at this time was with a band of robbers who carried small
curved swords looking like sickles.
These men were called the sicarii (“dagger men”). They would come into the city during festival
times and kill and rob people.
The sicarii were led by a man who promised his followers freedom
from their miseries. Festus would
send his Roman troops out to rid the country of the sicarii.
Yet these things were in the future.
For now, Festus is the new guy on the block,
trying to learn about these pesky Jews.
:1 from Caesarea to Jerusalem
The normal residence of the Roman governors was in Caesarea. Caesarea was the secular capital of Judaea.
Jerusalem though was considered by the Jews to be
their capital, the religious capital of Judaea.
Normally the Roman governors would go to Jerusalem only for the religious
But after Festus becomes governor, he only takes
three days before going to visit Jerusalem.
He knows that this is where the power base for the Jews is.
As a wise governor, Festus goes to spend some time with the religious
leaders to help cement his new role as governor.
:2 Then the high priest and the chief men of the
Jews informed him against Paul; and they petitioned him,
:2 high priest – There is a new high
priest by this time. His name is Ismael
:3 asking a favor against him, that he would
summon him to Jerusalem—while they lay in ambush along the road to kill
:2 informed him against Paul
Even though it’s been two years, the Jewish
religious leaders have not forgotten about Paul.
They ask Festus to hold a trial in Jerusalem to settle the matter.
:2 they lay in ambush
Two years ago there had been a plot by 40 men who
had sworn an oath not to eat until they had killed Paul.
This was what had led to Paul being moved to
Caesarea for protection.
Do you think that the original 40 men who had sworn that oath are in on
:4 But Festus answered that Paul should be kept at
Caesarea, and that he himself was going there shortly.
:5 “Therefore,” he said, “let those who have
authority among you go down with me and accuse this man, to see if there
is any fault in him.”
:4 Paul should be kept at Caesarea
We don’t know whether or not Festus was aware of
the plot two years earlier to have Paul killed.
:4 accuse this man
Festus invites the Jewish leaders to once again make
their case against Paul, but to do it in Caesarea.
:6 And when he had remained among them more than
ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day,
sitting on the judgment seat, he commanded Paul to be brought.
:7 When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood about
and laid many serious complaints against Paul, which they could not prove,
:8 while he answered for himself, “Neither against
the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended
in anything at all.”
:7 laid many serious complaints
We aren’t told the specifics of what they accused Paul of, though we will
catch a glimpse of how Festus remembered the charges at the end of the chapter
:9 But Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor,
answered Paul and said, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and there be
judged before me concerning these things?”
:9 go up to Jerusalem
Initially Festus wanted to keep the trial in Caesarea. Now that he gets a better idea of what it’s all about, he’s waffling. He’s considering
whether he ought to continue the trial in Jerusalem. Perhaps there he might get more information
about this religious stuff.
:9 wanting to do the Jews a favor
Festus knows that to keep the peace in Judaea, he needs to make a favorable
impression with the Jewish leadership. And that’s not an easy thing to do.
So Festus asks Paul is he would be open to having
another trial in Jerusalem.
Festus will say later that he was uncertain about the things the Jewish
leaders were accusing Paul of (Acts 25:20) and that’s why he suggests going to
Jerusalem … so he can learn more about these events.
And because I was uncertain of such questions, I asked
whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem and there be judged concerning these
He will also say that Paul hasn’t done anything
worthy of death. (Acts 25:25)
But when I found that he had committed nothing deserving of
death, and that he himself had appealed to Augustus, I decided to send him.
But I wonder if he simply isn’t trying to give the
Jewish leaders a chance to build a better case against Paul.
To Festus’ credit, he is trying to keep the peace with the Jews.
To him, the high priest and leaders before him carry much more weight than
this nobody named Paul.
But there is a sense in which Festus is playing the part of the “man
While Jesus was alive, there were Jewish rulers who actually believed in
Jesus, but were afraid to say anything.
During Jesus’ last week, John recorded:
(John 12:42–43 NKJV) —42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed
in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they
should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they
loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
These leaders were more concerned about the kind of
response they would get from people than they were about the kind of response
they would get from God.
Yet since we are all one day going to stand before our
Great God in judgment, isn’t it ultimately more important to be concerned about
God’s opinion of us?
Paul would write to the Colossians from his prison in Rome:
3:22–25 NKJV) —22 Bondservants, obey in all things
your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice,
as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever
you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing
that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you
serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there
is no partiality.
Some people will do anything to get noticed by the
An ambitious, young executive is working late at corporate
headquarters one evening. As he comes out of his office about 8:00 PM he sees the Big Boss standing by the shredder in the
hallway, a piece of paper in his hand. “Do you know how to work this thing?”
the older man asks “My secretary’s gone home and I
don’t know how to run it.” “Yes, sir,” says the young executive, who
efficiently turns on the machine, takes the paper from the other man, and feeds
it in. “Great,” says his boss, “I just need the one copy...”
Some employees will do anything just to keep the boss happy.
A salesman is called into his Boss’s office....His boss says.... We’re sending
you up to Canada to be the sales rep there.... The man complains
immediately.... “Canada !!! there’s
nothing up in Canada but Hockey players and ugly women!!!!!” The Boss looks at
him sternly and says “MY WIFE is from Canada”. The man, thinking very quickly on his feet
replies ... “Oh really???? What position does she play????? !!!!!!”
Again, to Festus’ credit, he’s trying to keep the
peace with the Jews.
But there’s a bigger issue here – what is the
right thing for Paul’s life?
:10 So Paul said, “I stand at Caesar’s judgment
seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you very
:11 For if I am an offender, or have committed
anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing
in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I
appeal to Caesar.”
:11 no one can deliver me to them
Paul knew his rights as a Roman citizen.
We’ve already seen Paul exercise his rights
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison in
Philippi. That night there was an
earthquake that broke open the prison, but Paul and the other prisoners did not
The next morning the city officials decided to release Paul quietly and
have him leave out the back door, but Paul whipped out his Roman Citizenship
16:37 NKJV) —37 But Paul said to them, “They have
beaten us openly, uncondemned Romans, and have
thrown us into prison. And now do they put us
out secretly? No indeed! Let them come themselves and
get us out.”
When the officials heard that Paul was a Roman citizen,
they came and apologized profusely
When Paul was first arrested in Jerusalem two
years earlier, the Roman guards were about to scourge him …
(Acts 22:25 NKJV) And as they
bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, “Is it lawful
for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?”
The commander immediately stopped the beating and knew he
could have gotten into trouble for having Paul bound.
Now Paul exerts his rights as a Roman to stand trial before those he’s accused of, but in a court of Roman Law, not Jewish
Law. Paul has a right to appeal his case
:12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with the
council, answered, “You have appealed to Caesar? To Caesar you shall go!”
:12 To Caesar you shall go
It seems to me that Festus might be a little relieved that he doesn’t have to be the one to decide on Paul’s fate.
The Emperor in Rome at that time was the 21 year old
Caesar Nero (ruled AD 54-68).
It is the year AD 58.
Nero would eventually be connected to the deaths
of Paul and Peter in AD 64, the same year that Rome burned and the fire was
blamed on the Christians.
God keeps His promises.
At the beginning of the book of Joshua God makes a promise to Joshua:
(Joshua 1:1–6 NKJV) —1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun,
Moses’ assistant, saying: 2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this
Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am
giving to them—the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. 4 From the
wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all
the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the
sun, shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of
your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be
with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong
and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the
land which I swore to their fathers to give them.
God promised to give the Israelites the entire land of
As the book progresses, things get tough. The Israelites have a lot
of battles they have to fight.
Yet at the end of the book of Joshua we read:
(Joshua 21:43–45 NKJV) —43 So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of
which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and
dwelt in it. 44
The Lord gave them
rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into
their hand. 45
Not a word failed of any good thing which
the Lord had spoken to the house
of Israel. All came to pass.
God kept the promises He made to Moses and Joshua. He gave Israel their Promised Land.
It would still take effort on their part, but it all came to pass.
Two years earlier, after having first been arrested
(Acts 23:11 NKJV) But the
following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as
you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”
God made an interesting promise to Paul that he would go to
Rome and be a witness there.
That promise is about to be kept.
Paul will be travelling on a full expense paid trip,
courtesy of the government of Rome.
He will be under arrest.
But he will make it.
God has promises for us as well.
There are general promises for all believers. Paul would write to Titus from his prison in
Rome a few years from now:
1:1–2 NLT) —1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus
Christ. I have been sent to proclaim faith to those
God has chosen and to teach them to know the truth that shows them how to live
godly lives. 2
This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which
God—who does not lie—promised them before the world began.
We all have the promise of eternal life.
There may be battles along the way, but God promises to
get us through.
There are also individual promises we might receive from God as well (like
Paul going to Rome).
God keeps His promises.
It may not be done the way you
expect, but it will be done.
25:13-27 Agrippa arrives
:13 And after some days King Agrippa and Bernice
came to Caesarea to greet Festus.
:13 King Agrippa
This was King Agrippa II, son of Herod Agrippa I (12:1) and a
great-grandson of Herod the Great (Matt. 2:1).
If you look at the family genealogy chart of the Herod family, here are the
ones we are familiar with:
Herod the Great was the king who tried to kill the baby Jesus. He is also the great builder, enlarging the
temple, building cities like Caesarea.
Herod Antipas (Herod the Great’s son) was the one who had John the Baptist
beheaded, and before whom Jesus stood trial.
Herod Agrippa I (Antipas’ nephew) was the king who killed James the apostle
and had Peter briefly imprisoned. He had
three kids – Agrippa II, Drusilla (who married governor
Felix), and Bernice.
Herodias (Antipas’ niece) was the sister to Agrippa I, and was married to
both her uncle Herod Philip I, and then to Herod
Antipas. John the Baptist had rebuked
Herod Antipas for marrying his brother’s wife.
She is the one who forced Antipas to have John killed.
Herod Agrippa II is the one Paul is going to speak to.
Drusilla is the gal who was married to governor
Felix (Acts 23), and who would one day die at Pompeii.
Bernice is the sister to King Agrippa. She would marry her uncle Herod
Chalcis, then a guy named Polemon
(king of Cilicia). At this time she was living in incest with her brother Agrippa
II. Yuck. She will one day be the mistress to Titus,
the man who would conquer Jerusalem and one day be
I believe that the Herod family actually starred in the first season of “Days
of our Lives” (isn’t the show that old??? Or it could have
been a reality TV show – “The Real Wives of Caesarea”.
Their reason for coming to Caesarea was to meet the new Roman governor.
: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
: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.’
This was the right of every Roman citizen.
: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
: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
:19 their own religion and about a
We weren’t told earlier what was said in this last
hearing before Festus, but we do have Festus’ summary of the main issues.
In reality, when Paul was first arrested, the
issue was whether Paul had brought a Gentile into the Temple or not.
Now it’s gotten down to the real issue – Jesus.
Paul had made the claim that Jesus had died and had come back to life.
It sounds to me like Paul is finding a way to share the gospel with the
Festus is a pagan Roman and this is all WAY outside of his comfort zone, experience,
and knowledge base.
: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
– sebastos – reverend, venerable; the title of the
:22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I also would
like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” he said, “you shall hear him.”
:23 So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had
come with great pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and
the prominent men of the city, at Festus’ command Paul was brought in.
– akroaterion – a place set aside for hearing and
:23 Agrippa and Bernice
Jesus had told His followers:
NKJV) —16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep
in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents
and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and
scourge you in their synagogues. 18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they
deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be
given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is
not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
Some people will take this to mean that a pastor shouldn’t do any studying before his sermon because the Holy
Spirit will just tell him what to say.
Keep in mind, Jesus wasn’t
talking about sermons, He was talking about making your defense before kings.
I think there is a place for studying and being prepared.
Timothy 2:15 NLT) Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his
approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly
explains the word of truth.
Peter 3:15 NKJV) But sanctify the Lord God in your
hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who
asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
What Jesus was talking about was the importance of
learning to rely upon the Holy Spirit.
We can study and study and study
and never learn to say the right things.
We can find ourselves using the Bible as some sort of a
weapon to win arguments and slash our enemies to pieces.
That will win nobody.
14:26 NKJV) But the Helper, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring
to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
I think it’s important that we maintain
a close relationship with the Lord so He can guide us and the words we should
Let’s watch a video of what we’ve just read about…
Play Acts – Festus and Agrippa – clip – Acts 25:13-27
:24 And Festus said: “King Agrippa and all the men who are here present
with us, you see this man about whom the whole assembly of the Jews petitioned
me, both at Jerusalem and here, crying out that he was not fit to live any
:25 But when I found that he had committed nothing deserving of death, and
that he himself had appealed to Augustus, I decided to send him.
:25 committed nothing deserving of death
I find it interesting that Festus lacked the courage to simply acquit Paul
and set him free.
:26 I have nothing certain to write to my lord
concerning him. Therefore I have brought him out
before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the
examination has taken place I may have something to write.
:27 For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner
and not to specify the charges against him.”
:26 especially before you, King Agrippa
One of the things under Herod Agrippa II was the authority to appoint the
Even though Agrippa was the descendant of an Edomite (Herod the Great), he
was considered royalty among the Jews.
He knew a lot about everything Jewish.
If Festus wants to understand this controversy before him, Agrippa is the
perfect person to help school him in this new experience of Judaism.
:27 specify the charges
Festus could possibly lose his job if he is sending stupid court issues to
Caesar without telling him what they were about.
Festus is going to use this occasion to have Agrippa help him write up the
charges to be sent with Paul for his trial in Rome.