Acts 25:27

For I [Festus] think it is unreasonable to send a prisoner on to Rome without specifying the charges against him [Paul]."

What was the nature of these charges? Religious? Seditious? The charges must have been serious enough for Festus to send the prisoner to Rome considered the logistics and expenses involved.


What lies behind the situation is one fact : that the Jews (of that day) wanted Paul to die.

They had no good reason. There was no just cause. It is quite clear that, had they the power and authority to execute him, they would have done so, unjustly, with false witnesses.

But Rome was the occupying power and Rome did not permit the local authority to have the death sentence. Therefore the Jews had to cause enough fuss, raise enough disturbance, insinuate sufficient doubt, that the local authority must do something to quiten the situation.

In the midst of this, Paul appeals to Caesar since Paul is a Roman, having citizen rights from Tarsus. Paul was not willing to plead guilty, suffer a slight charge, a low-level sentence to make the whole thing go away.

Rather, he wishes to maintain his reputation and his own integrity and he wishes to have things done properly and judicially.

Therefore he forces the issue and appeals to Caesar.

And in the end, as we know from history, he was exonerated at his first trial.


What was the nature of these charges? Religious? Seditious?

It is both according to the lawyer. At Paul’s trial held by Felix, there was a lawyer: Tertullus. He presented the formal charges. Festus's written charges would be based on these after consulting King Agrippa.

Acts 24:1 Five days later the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor.

The first charge was related to sedition. Paul was a disturber of the Roman peace. This is serious to Caesar.

5a “We have found this man to be a troublemaker, stirring up riots among the Jews all over the world.

I.e., over the Roman world against Pax Romana. If this were true, Rome would execute Paul.

The second charge was related to religion. Rome guaranteed religious freedom to the established Jewish religion.

5b He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect 6 and even tried to desecrate the temple;

They accused Paul of breaking their Jewish religious law. However, only Roman law can execute a criminal, so they asked the Roman governors to do it. Festus couldn't make head or tail of the Jewish laws and held a trial with Agrippa who knew these things.

When Paul appealed to Caesar, Festus wrote up these trumped-up charges and sent Paul to Rome so that at least on paper, the appeal proceedings were proper and legal.

  • I follow your answer up until you quote Exodus 28:43; how is this related? – b a Jan 14 at 13:50
  • It made sense only to Jews who trumped up the charges. – Happy Camper Jan 14 at 20:42
  • Which Jews accused Paul of being a priest who didn't wear his vestments in the Temple? – b a Jan 14 at 20:48

The motivation for Paul's arrest and very vague accusation by the Jews is well-known - Paul Christian teaching of liberation was undermining the authority of the Jewish leadership and they we corrupt enough to try to have him killed or otherwise silenced.

The official charges against Paul are never specified. Specifically,

  • Acts 25:27 - Fetus is at a loss about what to charges to write in the indictment papers he sends with Paul to Rome.
  • Acts 26 consists of Paul's verbal defense.
  • Acts 26:31, 32 On their way out, they said to one another, “This man has done nothing worthy of death or imprisonment.” And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar.” Thus, Festus is has no formal charge(s)
  • Acts 27 & 28 still contain no legal charges against Paul.

Perhaps, Paul was sent to Rome with no charges and this contributed to his release, despite taking at least two years (Acts 28:30).

Since the Bible does not record the legal charges against Paul, we do not know. The only (false) charges that the Jewish leadership brought revolved around breaking Torah Law (Acts 24:5, 6) but Rome no interest in such things. However, Paul defended himself against these charges (Acts 24:12, 13) and Felix never found him guilty.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.