the province: That is, the Roman province of Judea, with Caesarea serving as the governor’s residence. The Greek expression rendered arriving in . . . and taking charge is understood to refer to Festus’ taking up his office as governor in the province.
Caesar: Or “the Emperor.” The Roman emperor at this time was Nero. His rule began in 54 C.E. and ended in 68 C.E. when he committed suicide at about the age of 31. All references to Caesar in Acts chapters 25 through 28 apply to Nero.—See study notes on Mt 22:17; Ac 17:7 and Glossary.
I appeal to Caesar!: In the Bible record, this is the third time that Paul made use of his rights as a Roman citizen. (For the other two occasions, see study notes on Ac 16:37; 22:25.) Such an appeal to Caesar could be made either after the pronouncement of judgment or at any earlier point in the trial. Festus gave evidence of not wanting to decide the matter himself, and a trial in Jerusalem held virtually no hope of justice. So Paul made this formal petition to be judged by the highest court of the empire. It appears that in some cases the appeal could be denied, for example, in the case of a thief, a pirate, or a seditionist caught in the act. Likely for this reason, Festus conferred with “the assembly of counselors” before admitting the appeal. (Ac 25:12) The subsequent hearing with the visiting Herod Agrippa II was held in order that Festus might have clearer information to submit when transmitting Paul’s case to “the August One,” Nero. (Ac 25:12-27; 26:32; 28:19) Paul’s appeal also served the purpose of taking him to Rome, fulfilling an intention expressed earlier. (Ac 19:21) Jesus’ prophetic promise to Paul as well as the angelic message that he later received shows divine direction in the matter.—Ac 23:11; 27:23, 24.
Bernice: The sister of Herod Agrippa II. It was widely rumored that Agrippa carried on an incestuous relationship with her. She later became the mistress of Titus before he became Roman emperor.
elders: Here referring to leaders of the Jewish nation who are often mentioned together with chief priests and scribes.—See study note on Mt 16:21.
the August One: A title for the Roman emperor. The Greek word Se·ba·stosʹ means “worthy of reverence; revered; august” and is a translation of the Latin title Augustus. Some translations use such expressions as “His Majesty the Emperor” or “His Imperial Majesty.” In this case, it is the title of Caesar Nero (54-68 C.E.), the fourth in succession from Octavian (Octavius), who first held this title.—See study note on Lu 2:1.