Once again opponents of Paul seek his life. They request of the new governor, Festus, that Paul be transferred to Jerusalem. They plan to ambush Paul on the way to kill him. Interestingly this time no mention is made of an oath not to eat or drink until the deed was done – had they learned from their previous inability to fulfil such an oath?
As a Roman citizen Paul did not have to stand trial before Jewish religious courts. Hence, he said to Festus, “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.” Paul’s innocence is a theme in these chapters.
Like the Lord Jesus, Paul stands trial twice before a Roman governor and once before a Herodian kind. In each case Paul is declared innocent at each of his trials and by a Roman soldier – as was Jesus. In 23:29 the Roman soldier says that Paul has “nothing deserving death or imprisonment”. In 25:9 and 25:18 Festus acknowledges that Paul has done no evil. Finally, in 26:31 following his trial before Agrippa they conclude that Paul has done “nothing to deserve death or imprisonment” – the same phrase bookending Paul’s trials before Roman authorities. Luke has written the accounts of Jesus and Paul in parallel to demonstrate that Paul is following Jesus. As Jesus was innocent of any evil but suffered the opposition of the world so do followers of Jesus like Paul. Christians are called to live godly lives of righteousness in the world though they may be opposed for speaking the gospel.
It is also of value to note that rather than be tried in Jerusalem Paul appeals to Caesar in Rome for judgment. Why? Is it because Paul thinks he will get a better outcome from Caesar Nero than that in Jerusalem? Is he making a legal strategy to gain his freedom? Release is not Paul’s goal. Paul’s goal is to proclaim the gospel in Rome – to take the gospel to the next stage of its progress to the nations – before the Roman emperor himself. It is not personal interests that govern Paul’s legal strategy but kingdom interests to further the gospel. Christians are called to seek first the kingdom of God and leave the other things in the hands of the God of providence and love.