As the book of Acts draws near its close I cannot help but wonder if Paul made a crucial mistake, or if he was playing the system. It is obvious the new governmental official, Festus, is not sure what to do with Paul. I am not sure, but it seems as though he was going to release Paul to go his way as the religious leaders had not presented a convincing case. Ah, then Paul appeals to Caesar. With this appeal, as a Roman citizen, Paul must be sent to Caesar. The problem Festus has is what to write to Caesar regarding the charges against Paul.
Paul had no intention of being released. For two plus years he had been held by the Roman government pending a decision from the leadership. It is not only in the present age government takes their sweet time making decisions. During this time I cannot help but wonder if Paul did not resolve to got to Rome and have the Roman government pay for his passage there. Besides, Paul has greater possibility of death outside of Roman protection or custody. No doubt Paul is prepared to die if it comes to that, at the same time if he can reach a whole new group of people with the Gospel he will work for that.
I am convinced Paul could have been set free by Festus, yet chose to remain and be sent to Rome. It seems odd that Paul would choose to remain a prisoner when freedom was right in front of him. Yes freedom was there, however, Paul already had freedom. It was no longer the Roman government, or the religious leaders who help him, it was the call of God. Paul was free of concerns from an earthly perspective, and free of concerns for his own well being. There was a freedom in Paul's life to follow after whatever opportunity God put before him. Now that is truly freedom.