Determining the Charges Against Paul
"And after some days King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to greet Festus. 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, about whom the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, when I was in Jerusalem, asking for a judgment against him. 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 charges against him." Therefore when they had come together, without any delay, the next day I sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in. When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed, but had some questions against him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. 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. But when Paul appealed to be reserved for the decision of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I could send him to Caesar.' Then Agrippa said to Festus, 'I also would like to hear the man myself.' 'Tomorrow,' he said, 'you shall hear him' (Acts 25:13-22).

Some point after Festus became governor, King Agrippa (the second) and his sister, Bernice, came to visit Festus in Caesarea (likely to congratulate him in his new position). This Agrippa was the son of the Herod who murdered the apostle James (cf. Acts 12). Agrippa and Bernice were both Jews by birth and ideal sources for Festus to extract information from. Agrippa was king over certain territories in northern Palestine at the time. Claudius Caesar gave him oversight of the Jewish temple and the right of appointing the high priest. According to Josephus, Bernice was involved in an incestuous relationship with Agrippa. Eventually, she was a mistress to both Vespasian and Titus, Roman military leaders. Bernice was the scandal of Palestine and Rome.

Paul was not a high priority in the mind of Festus, but many days into Agrippa's visit Festus does discuss the apostle's situation with Agrippa. Luke repeats many details we are already aware of as Paul's case is reviewed by Festus for Agrippa. Festus summarized the charges against Paul by saying that there were some questions about the Jewish religion and a man named Jesus who had died but Paul claimed was alive. Festus then told Agrippa about Paul's appeal to Caesar. It should be noted that the NKJV is inferior here in using the name "Augustus" instead of the better rendering "the emperor." Nero, not Augustus, was the present Roman emperor. Augustus had died in A.D. 14, long before Jesus did. One possible reason for the mistranslation here is that "emperor" can mean "the august or revered one," which is similar to the name Augustus. Agrippa is intrigued by Paul's case and desires to hear Paul himself. Festus makes the meeting possible the following day.

"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. 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 longer. 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. 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. For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him'" (Acts 25:23-27).

Festus had Paul brought before Agrippa, the commanders, and the prominent men of the city and briefly reviewed his case before them. Festus then admitted hat he didn't have anything certain or specific to write to Caesar about Paul. He knew it was unreasonable to send a prisoner to Rome without specifying the charges against him (though, if Festus were a just man, he would also realize that it was unreasonable to keep a man in prison who doesn't even have concrete charges leveled against him!). Festus is hopeful Agrippa's examination of Paul will yield something helpful in this regard.