‘I was undecided about how I could get information on these matters, so I asked Paul if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and be tried there on these charges. But Paul appealed; he asked to be kept under guard and to let the Emperor decide his case. So I gave orders for him to be kept under guard until I could send him to the Emperor.’ (verses 20,21)
Read Acts 25:13-27
Festus, as the new governor of Judea, had the authority to judge Paul’s case. He could have decided the outcome, but he was at a loss as to how to handle the situation. Roman law could not deal with the charges, which related to what Paul and the Jews believed. Roman law had no precedent for dealing with matters of faith and belief.
In the end, it was Paul who told Festus what to do. Paul appealed for the right to take his case to the emperor, even though the emperor would ultimately be in the same position as Festus.
People are not always sure how to deal with those of us who are Christian believers. Sometimes people have tried to force the church into the law courts, even over matters of faith. The church stands outside of the law. Nevertheless, Christians should never do anything against the laws of the land. In the end, God alone will judge our faith and will decide the arguments about what we believe.
Dear heavenly Father, forgive me when I don’t keep the laws of the land, which you are ultimately in charge of. Amen.
by Stuart Kleinig, in ‘Guidance for each Day’ (LCA, Openbook, 2002)
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