God’s Word for You
Acts 25:1-5 Under the pain of unjust suffering
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, February 5, 2021
The Trial Before Festus
25 On the third day after Festus arrived in the province, he traveled from Caesarea to Jerusalem 2 where the high priest and the leaders of the Jews presented charges against Paul to him and appealed to him. 3 They urgently requested that as a favor to them, Festus should have Paul transferred to Jerusalem. They were planning an ambush to kill him on the road. 4 Festus answered that Paul was under guard in Caesarea, and that he himself was going out there soon. 5 “So let some of your leaders come with me and press charges against him if he has done anything wrong.”
Porcius Festus was a different kind of administrator from Felix. He was a man of energy, eager to get his bearings, and taking his duties very seriously. His residence was in Caesarea, but after disembarking from the ship that carried him there, he spent only one full day in his new home, traveling “on the third day” up to Jerusalem to see the religious center of the province. As soon as he arrived there he was met by a delegation of religious leaders. The high priest was now (in 60 AD) a man named Ishmael. Ananias had been succeeded by a priest named Jonathan, who was murdered (stabbed by robbers) shortly after becoming high priest at the orders of Felix. Ishmael was next, and along with other members of the Sanhedrin he petitioned Festus to bring Paul up to Jerusalem for trial.
Their plan might have failed if Festus had been a stickler for the law, but we will see later that he was not. Their plan might have failed if he had studied all the details of the case, but he hadn’t had time to do that. Their plan might have failed if Festus were an impartial man, unwilling to grant favors to anyone, but we will see in verse 9 that this wasn’t the case, either. Instead, their plan failed simply because Festus had a schedule to keep. He was heading back to Caesarea soon, and since Paul was already locked up there, why bother to bring him back here and waste whole days just waiting? How often don’t sinners forget that the whole world doesn’t think the way they do? Some people have their own evil agendas, but many people are just trying to do their jobs and earn an honest wage. Meanwhile, Paul did not know about any of this. He had been waiting two years, but he had no idea that with the arrival of this new Procurator he had less than two weeks before everything would change and he would at last be on his way to Rome.
There are many Psalms that cry out to the Lord for help against our enemies. How many of these had passed through Paul’s lips during these two years? Probably all of them. “Protect me from men of violence who plan to trip my feet. Proud men have hidden a snare for me; they have spread out the cords of their net and have set traps for me along my path” (Psalm 140:4-5). “Plead my cause against an ungodly nation; rescue me from deceitful and wicked men. You are God my stronghold” (Psalm 43:1-2). “When the wicked rule, the people groan” (Proverbs 29:2). When we feel oppressed by wicked men and women who are in authority, we must remember that their authority comes from God but their sins are on their own heads. Therefore we owe them obedience and respect up to the point of them demanding that we commit a sin (Acts 5:29). But we also need to remember that “It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people” (1 Peter 2:15). And also, “It is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God… If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God” (1 Peter 1:19,20). If you are suffering, or grieving, or struggling with doubt and uncertainty, pour out your cares to God in prayer. “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you. He will never let the righteous fall” (Psalm 55:22). And again, “The Lord is good, a refuge in a day of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him” (Nahum 1:7). He cares about you.
Pastor Timothy Smith