The high priest went to Caesarea along with some elders and a lawyer. They presented their case against Paul before Felix the governor. They said, “This man is a disease to the Jewish people. He causes riots everywhere he goes. Now he has come here and has desecrated our temple.”
Paul defended himself. He said, “I did nothing to deserve what was done to me. It’s true I follow Jesus of Nazareth, but I didn’t gather a crowd and preach to them. I simply went to the temple to fulfill a vow. Suddenly—and for no reason—a mob grabbed me and tried to kill me. They’re the ones who should be here defending their actions! Not me. These men standing before you have nothing against me. They even agree with me on the basic issue—that God can raise someone from the dead.”
Felix listened to both sides, but didn’t pass judgment. He thought Paul might pay him something to let him go free. Still, the governor gave Paul the privilege of seeing his friends. Felix met with him several times to talk about faith in Christ. Once he trembled and said, “I’m not ready right now. I’ll make this decision when it is more convenient.”
Two years later, Festus became governor, replacing Felix. He wanted to make the Jewish leaders happy, so he said to Paul, “Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and be tried for these charges?”
Paul said, “I’m willing to die if I am truly worthy of death. But you know that I’m innocent of these charges. Therefore, if you’re about to send me to Jerusalem, I appeal to Caesar.”
Festus said, “So, you have appealed to Caesar. In that case, to Caesar you will go.”
A few days later, King Agrippa and his sister visited the new governor. Festus told them about Paul and the trial. Agrippa said he would like to hear him. So the next day, a large crowd gathered, and Paul was brought before the governor and the king.
When Paul entered the room, he saw his opportunity. He said, “I’m pleased to stand before you, King Agrippa, because you’re an expert in Jewish customs.
“I’m not a stranger to the Jews who live in Israel. They’ve known me since I was a child. They know that I am a Pharisee and have been very strict concerning the Law. There was a time when I persecuted those following Jesus the Nazarene.
“I was on the way to Damascus when I was struck to the ground by a bright light. I then heard a voice saying, ‘Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
“I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The voice said, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Get up. You’re now my servant. I’m sending you to be a witness for me—to the Jews and to the Gentiles.’
“King Agrippa, I’ve been true to that calling. I proclaim Jesus as Messiah wherever I go. I tell people to repent and turn to God.
“So why do the Jews want to kill me? They know our Scriptures teach that Christ would suffer, die, and rise from the dead. The good news is that he now brings light to all people including the Gentiles.”
Festus yelled out, “Paul, you’re talking like a fool. All of your education has made you crazy!”
Paul said, “I’m not crazy. I speak the truth, and the king knows these things. King Agrippa, do you believe the Scriptures? I know you do—”
The king interrupted him, “Do you think you can talk to me for a few minutes and I’ll become a Christian?”
Paul said, “Whether I can or can’t, it’s my desire that all of you listening to me today would be like me, except for these chains.”
Later, King Agrippa and the governor agreed that Paul shouldn’t be in prison. They said, “We’d set him free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar. But he did appeal to Caesar, so that is where we’ll send him.”