Power, Politics, and the Providence of God


We tend to think of soap operas as a thing of the 20th century, but the situation in today’s reading could easily be considered a soap opera. We have Jewish religious leaders trying to manipulate a Roman political leader for their own desires, while at the same time, the Roman political leader is trying to manipulate these same Jewish religious leaders for his own desires. Then we have the Roman leader trying to manipulate Paul. Oh, and don’t forget the backdrop of a planned ambush and assassination. If this might sound familiar, it is. If you look back in Acts 23, an eerily similar situation was in process. In the words of Yogi Berra, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

  • How do you try to manipulate situations or circumstances for your own benefit?


25:1 Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. 2 And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid out their case against Paul, and they urged him, 3 asking as a favor against Paul that he summon him to Jerusalem—because they were planning an ambush to kill him on the way. 4 Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea and that he himself intended to go there shortly. 5 “So,” said he, “let the men of authority among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them bring charges against him.”

6 After he stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought. 7 When he had arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him that they could not prove. 8 Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” 9 But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?” 10 But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well. 11 If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.” 12 Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. Why do you suppose the chief priests and principal men of the Jews went to Festus so soon after he took office?
  2. In verse 3, what does the phrase “asking as a favor” seem to imply?
  3. In verse 9, what was Festus’ apparent intent?
  4. What aspect of Paul’s character is evident in verse 11?
  5. Do you have confidence in God’s plan for your life and the integrity to mimic Paul’s claim in verse 11? If not, how might you attempt to manipulate the situation if your doubts in God’s promises begin to grow larger?


Paul had been imprisoned for two years. At any time, he could have chosen to try a bribe and gain his release, but he didn’t. God had promised Paul that he would testify about him in Rome (Acts 23:11). In the midst of powerful men attempting to manipulate events for their own good, we see God at work, using these very manipulations to carry out his divine providence. Despite Jewish and Roman leaders who thought they were in control, we are reminded who is truly in control. Paul would indeed be going to Rome, just as God had promised. Humans simply cannot manipulate divine providence!

  • Pray that you would rest and grow in your faith, believing that God is truly in control, even when things may seem so out of control.