While Paul was making this defense, Festus said loudly, “Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great education is turning you toward madness.” But Paul replied, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent and noble Festus, but [with a sound mind] I am uttering rational words of truth and reason. For [your majesty] the king understands these things, and [therefore] I am also speaking to him with confidence and boldness, since I am convinced that none of these things escape his notice; for this has not been done in a corner [hidden from view, in secret]. King Agrippa, do you believe the [writings of the] Prophets [their messages and words]? I know that you do.” Then Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time [and with so little effort] you [almost] persuade me to become a Christian.” And Paul replied, “Whether in a short time or long, I wish to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become such as I am, except for these chains.”
Then the king stood up, and [with him] the governor and Bernice, and those who were sitting with them; and after they had gone out, they began saying to one another, “This man is not doing anything worthy of death or [even] of imprisonment.” And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to [a]Caesar (Emperor Nero).”
- Acts 26:32 Nero was the fifth and last of the Roman emperors of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. He ruled after the death of Claudius and actively persecuted Christians. Both Paul and Peter were martyred during Nero’s reign (a.d. 54-68).
Paul Is Sent to Rome
Now when it was determined that [a]we (including Luke) would sail for Italy, they turned Paul and some other prisoners over to a centurion of the Augustan Regiment named Julius. And going aboard a ship from Adramyttian which was about to sail for the ports along the [west] coast [province] of Asia [Minor], we put out to sea; and Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica, accompanied us. The next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, treating Paul with [thoughtful] consideration, allowed him to go to his friends there and be cared for and refreshed. From there we put out to sea and sailed to the leeward (sheltered) side of Cyprus [for protection from weather] because the winds were against us. When we had sailed across the sea along the coasts of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we landed at Myra in Lycia [on the south coast of Asia Minor]. There the centurion [Julius] found an Alexandrian ship [a grain ship of the Roman fleet] sailing for Italy, and he put us aboard it. For a number of days we sailed slowly and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus; then, because the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the leeward (sheltered) side of Crete, off Salmone; and hugging the shore with difficulty, we came to a place called Fair Havens, near the city of Lasea [on the south side of Crete].
Now much time had been lost, and [b]navigation was dangerous, because even [the time for] the fast (Day of Atonement) was already over, so Paul began to strongly warn them, saying, “Men, I sense [after careful thought and observation] that this voyage will certainly be a disaster and with great loss, not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” However, the centurion [Julius, ranking officer on board] was persuaded by the pilot and the owner of the ship rather than by what Paul said. Because the harbor was not well situated for wintering, the majority [of the sailors] decided to put to sea from there, hoping somehow to reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete facing southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there.
- Acts 27:1 Luke apparently stayed nearby, so that he could visit and assist Paul during the two years of his imprisonment.
- Acts 27:9 Sailing in the Mediterranean was dangerous for ancient ships after the second week of September, and virtually impossible after Nov 11, so now there was no hope of reaching Italy before winter.