Acts 25:16-20
Acts 25:16 (KJB)
To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.
Festus had then responded to the Jews by telling them that according to Roman law, they do not pronounce capital punishment on a man before he has the opportunity to face his accusers and to personally respond to them and the court concerning the charges facing him. The Jews wanted the sentence of death pronounced on Paul before he even had a trial. King Agrippa would have been familiar with Roman law and eventually Roman law was codified and became the influence behind the laws of western Europe and America. However, even though Roman law became codified, much of the interpretation was in the hands of the local governor or king in each particular part of the Roman Empire.
Acts 25:17 (KJB)
Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth.
Festus had then related that he refused to give them their request and since Paul was a Roman, he had the right under Roman law to face his accusers. So the Jews had come to Caesarea to accuse Paul. Festus did not waste any time and the next day after they arrived he heard the case. He wanted to make sure Agrippa knew that Paul had a speedy trial and there was no laxity on his part.
Acts 25:18 (KJB)
Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed:
Then when the trial had started, Festus heard the accusations they brought against him and it was not the type of accusations he was used to hearing such as theft, murder, or any type of corrupt practices. All they basically accused him of was defiling the temple which was not a crime against Rome. Festus had supposed Paul was guilty of something because he stood before him, but the bottom line was that Paul was not guilty of anything like the above mentioned crimes and the Jews did not accuse him of anything like this.
Acts 25:19 (KJB)
But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.
Festus then goes on to state that their accusations were not of a political or criminal nature but it had to do with their superstition. Now Festus was a pagan and had used the term “superstition” in a good manner. He would not have offended Agrippa since they were on good terms with each other. He then brings up the other subject which Paul no doubt enflamed the Jews with and that is the resurrection of Christ. Festus explains it to Agrippa by stating that Paul says that Jesus was dead but now He is alive.
Acts 25:20 (KJB)
And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters.
Festus had withheld the information that he wanted to please the Jews and send Paul to Jerusalem to be tried there. Instead he basically stated that he was not sure how to approach this matter which was somewhat truthful. He probably never faced a trial based on accusations of a religious nature. Judaism was considered a legal religion in the Roman Empire so all these questions would have been turned over to the Sanhedrin. Festus probably never thought he would face a case like Paul’s.