Biblical People

Biblical People: Festus

After Felix lets Paul languish in jail for two years, he’s replaced as governor by Porcius Festus.

Shortly after he takes over, the Jewish leaders, not content to merely let Paul rot in prison, request that Festus transfer Paul back to Jerusalem. They’re still plotting to ambush him along the way and kill him.

Instead, Festus tells them to come to Caesarea and present their case there. He convenes court and Paul’s enemies accuse him of many serious charges, but they can’t prove a thing. As for his part, Paul persists in claiming his innocence.

Confused by their accusations against Paul, Festus isn’t sure how to proceed, so he asks if Paul will travel to Jerusalem to stand trial before the religious Council. Paul suspects a plot to kill him. To avoid returning to Jerusalem, he appeals his case to Caesar, a right he has as a Roman citizen.

Festus agrees with Paul’s request. However, Festus doesn’t know what charges to list in Paul’s appeal to Caesar. King Agrippa and Bernice, who have a better understanding of the background of this situation, agree to give their input. 

Paul makes his case before the three of them, and they conclude that Paul is innocent and could have been released, had he not appealed his case to Caesar.

How do we react when others face injustice?

[Discover more about Felix in Acts 24:27–26:32.]

Read more about other biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at