Granting Appeal to Caesar
How inveterately must these Jews have hated Paul, when after two years they still thirsted for his blood! It would never have done for the trial to be transferred to Jerusalem, as the Jews had requested. If Paul had been brought thither, many plots might have been set on foot for the purpose of ending his life, especially if Festus proved as amenable to a bribe as had his predecessor. Festus was quite prepared to humor the Jews by granting such a transference, and there was no way of averting it other than Paul’s availing himself of his right as a Roman citizen to be tried by the emperor himself.
The appeal was a great surprise. Festus himself was probably annoyed. It would not be agreeable to him to have his jurisdiction superseded on this the first occasion of holding a public inquiry. But there was no question that the appeal was admissible, and Festus had therefore no alternative. How strangely God was fulfilling His own word, So must thou bear witness also at Rome! Paul had always desired to visit the imperial city, to bear thither the message of the Cross; but he never expected to go under the safeguard of Roman soldiers and at Roman expense. “Deep in unfathomable mines of never-failing skill” God fulfills His purposes.