Festus

fes’-tus, por’-shi-us Porkios Phestos):


The previous audiences of Festus with Paul and his accusers had, however, served only to confuse him as to the exact nature of the charge. Paul was therefore summoned before the regal court, in order both that Agrippa might hear him, and that the governor might obtain more definite information for insertion in the report he was required to send along with the prisoner to Rome (Ac 25:22-27). The audience which followed was brought to an abrupt conclusion by the interruption of Paul’s speech (Ac 26:1-23) by Festus: "Paul, thou art mad; thy much learning is turning thee mad" (Ac 26:24). Yet the meeting was sufficient to convince both Agrippa and Festus that "this man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds" (Ac 26:31).

While Festus displayed a certain contempt for what he regarded as the empty delusions of a harmless maniac, his conduct throughout the whole proceeding was marked by a strict impartiality; and his straightforward dealing with Paul formed a marked contrast to the dilatoriness of Felix. The praise bestowed upon the latter by Tertullus (Ac 24:2) might with better reason have been bestowed on Festus, in that he freed the country from many robbers (Sicarii: Josephus, Ant, XX, viii-x; BJ, II, xiv, 1); but his procuratorship was too short to undo the harm wrought by his predecessor. The exact date of his accession to office is uncertain, and has been variously placed at 55-61 AD

(compare Knowling in Expositor’s Greek Testament, II, 488-89; see also FELIX).

C.M. Kerr