After two years passed Felix was succeeded by a New Governor Porcius Festus but Felix wanted to grant a favour to the Jews, so he left Paul in prison. NIV
But after two years - Paul was unjustly detained during all this time. The hope of Felix seems to have been to weary his patience, and induce him to purchase his freedom. Barnes Notes
Acts 25 :1-6 Festus goes quickly to Jerusalem
Then the high priest . . . informed him against Paul. Immediately after entering upon his government, Festus went from the Roman capital of Judea to its Jewish capital. The rulers did not lose this opportunity to prosecute Paul. Their aim was to have him transferred from Cæsarea to Jerusalem, and thus exposed to their murderous designs.
To kill him. This was the real object of their request. Those who will read the account of these times given by Josephus, a Jew of this period, will see that such a murderous purpose is not improbable. Their purpose was for the time baffled by the decision of Festus that the case must be tried before his court in Cæsarea instead of before the Sanhedrim.
Act 25:6 After a stay of eight or ten days in Jerusalem--not more--he went down to Caesarea; and the next day, taking his seat on the tribunal, he ordered Paul to be brought in.
Act 25:7 Upon Paul's arrival, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood round him, and brought many grave charges against him which they were unable to substantiate.
The Grave charges
Grievous complaints - Heavy accusations. Doubtless the same with which they had charged him before Felix, Act_24:5-6. Compare Act_25:19.
Which they could not prove - Act_24:13, Act_24:19.
Act 25:8 But, in reply, Paul said, "Neither against the Jewish Law, nor against the Temple, nor against Caesar, have I committed any offence whatever."
While he answered for himself - In this instance St. Luke gives only a general account, both of the accusations and of St. Paul’s defense. But, from the words in this verse, the charges appear to have been threefold:
1. That he had broken the law.
2. That he had defiled the temple.
3. That he dealt in treasonable practices: to all of which he no doubt answered particularly; though we have nothing farther here than this, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.A.C.
Act 25:9 Then Festus, being anxious to gratify the Jews, asked Paul, "Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem, and there stand your trial before me on these charges?"
Act 25:10 "I am standing before Caesar's tribunal," replied Paul, "where alone I ought to be tried. The Jews have no real ground of complaint against me, as in fact you yourself are beginning to see more clearly.
Act 25:11 If, however, I have done wrong and have committed any offence for which I deserve to die, I do not ask to be excused that penalty. But if there is no truth in what these men allege against me, no one has the right to give me up to them as a favour. I appeal to Caesar."
A.C. Notes For if I be an offender - If it can be proved that I have broken the laws, so as to expose me to capital punishment, I do not wish to save my life by subterfuges; I am before the only competent tribunal; here my business should be ultimately decided.
No man may deliver me unto them - The words of the apostle are very strong and appropriate. The Jews asked as a favor, χαριν, from Festus, that he would send Paul to Jerusalem, Act_25:3. Festus, willing to do the Jews χαριν, this favor, asked Paul if he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged, Act_25:9. Paul says, I have done nothing amiss, either against the Jews or against Caesar; therefore no man με δυναται αυτοις χαρισασθαι, can make a Present of me to them; that is, favor them so far as to put my life into their hands, and thus gratify them by my death. Festus, in his address to Agrippa, Act_25:16, admits this, and uses the same form of speech: It is not the custom of the Romans, χαριζεσθαι, gratuitously to give up any one, etc. Much of the beauty of this passage is lost by not attending to the original words. See on Act_25:16 (note).
I appeal unto Caesar - A freeman of Rome, who had been tried for a crime, and sentence passed on him, had a right to appeal to the emperor, if he conceived the sentence to be unjust; but, even before the sentence was pronounced, he had the privilege of an appeal, in criminal cases, if he conceived that the judge was doing any thing contrary to the laws. Ante sententiam appellari potest in criminali negotio, si judex contra leges hoc faciat. - Grotius.
An appeal to the emperor was highly respected. The Julian law condemned those magistrates, and others having authority, as violaters of the public peace, who had put to death, tortured, scourged, imprisoned, or condemned any Roman citizen who had appealed to Caesar.
This law was so very sacred and imperative, that, in the persecution under Trajan, Pliny would not attempt to put to death Roman citizens who were proved to have turned Christians; hence, in his letter to Trajan, lib. x. Ep. 97, he says, ‘There were others guilty of similar folly, whom, finding them to be Roman citizens, I have determined to send to the city.” Very likely these had appealed to Caesar.
Act 25:12 Then, after conferring with the Council, Festus replied, "To Caesar you have appealed: to Caesar you shall go."
Barnes When he had conferred with the council - With his associate judges, or with those who were his counselors in the administration of justice. They were made up of the chief persons, probably military as well as civil, who were about him, and who were his assistants in the administration of the affairs of the province.
Unto Caesar shalt thou go - He was willing in this way to rid himself of the trial, and of the vexation attending it. He did not dare to deliver him to the Jews in violation of the Roman laws, and he was not willing to do justice to Paul, and thus make himself unpopular with the Jews. He was, therefore, probably rejoiced at the opportunity of thus freeing himself from all the trouble in the case in a manner against which none could object.