Caesarea - aerial view
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1 Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. 2 And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid out their case against Paul, and they urged him, 3 asking as a favor against Paul that he summon him to Jerusalem—because they were planning an ambush to kill him on the way. 4 Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea and that he himself intended to go there shortly. 5 “So,” said he, “let the men of authority among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them bring charges against him.”
6 After he stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. 7 When he had arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him that they could not prove. 8 Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” 9 But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?” 10 But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar's tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. 11 If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.” 12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.”
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.”
23 So on the next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp, and they entered the audience hall with the military tribunes and the prominent men of the city. Then, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24 And Festus said, “King Agrippa and all who are present with us, you see this man about whom the whole Jewish people petitioned me, both in Jerusalem and here, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 But I found that he had done nothing deserving death. And as he himself appealed to the emperor, I decided to go ahead and send him. 26 But I have nothing definite to write to my lord about him. Therefore I have brought him before you all, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that, after we have examined him, I may have something to write. 27 For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to indicate the charges against him.”
3d Reconstruction of Caesaria - mostly the theater. The palace is undergoing actual partial reconstruction as a tourist path from the theater to a seaside walk ending at the Crusader Fortress Wall.
We know the story of Acts, perhaps too well. Paul wants to go to Rome, partially to avoid being killed by assassins who swore never to eat or drink until they'd killed Paul. One never hears of them dying of hunger or thirst. Paul also knew Jesus brought the disciples to Caesarea, Matthew 16, to hear Peter proclaim Jesus to be the Christ, the Messiah. Using Caesarea as a symbol of Rome, Jesus told Peter he was the rock upon which the Church would be built.
Charges are never brought formally to Paul. Instead 2 governors - Felix, later Festus, continue to keep Paul in prison for 2 years.
When we look along the routes Paul traveled, there are memorials all over his journey. What did Paul leave behind for his 2 years? We know Paul did not put aside his love for Jesus Christ, even when we hear Paul was in prison and in chains. Paul loved the LORD.
Let's briefly look at Bernice, granddaughter of Herod the Great. How can it be that a Queen of Judea (Israel) was so unaffected by the Holy City during the Second Temple? Bernice disappears from history after having an affair with the destroyer of Jerusalem, the soon to become, Emperor Titus. When Titus banishes Bernice, she becomes unknown to history, sinking into obscurity.
Agrippa II was known to Paul, in Acts 26, as a believer of the prophets. Jesus never had reason to say any Herod family were believers. Perhaps, accordingly, this Herod doesn't end his life poorly. Agrippa was recorded in history as being a believer. So much so, he incited Jewish revolt with the way he raised and exiled Priests in the Temple. Agrippa was exiled to Rome for dabbling with the Temple too many times.
Agrippa was a close friend of Josephus', the son of a priest, a military man capitulating to Roman historian, as they lived out their lives in Rome. While Agrippa lived to old age & never married, Josephus married four times, divorcing twice. Josephus kept two of the letters he received from Agrippa. For both men, the Scripture applies:
for whoever is not against us is for us
He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters
The Scriptures apply because: Paul is not handed over to the assassins, Acts records Paul being called to speak to the Governor endlessly without a conversion written about, justice could have arrived at a solution there and then without Paul being in prison and in chains without clear charges. Paul's 2 year imprisonment instead of sending him off to Rome. Agrippa was the legal leader of the Temple, but vacillation appears to have been the leadership. As the born king of a client state, one would have hoped for more allegiance from both Bernice and Agrippa. While Josephus admires the Christians, he does not continue to write about their non-violent intentions. Paul is willing to wade into whatever fray occurs to promote love and mercy over sacrifice and mere rules. The others do not even add contributions to peace.
Paul fought the good fight. He finished his race. Greeted by the Lord Jesus, as well done, good and faithful servant. Paul's words, written with the Holy Spirit, are living and active.
Paul helped us to know more about the nature of God, Himself.
Love never fails.
Rejoice in the Lord always.
We live by faith, not by sight.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
If God is for us, who can be against us?
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.
I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.