Secular Roman historians tell us that during the Julio-Claudian period, Roman law protected Roman citizens who invoked this special right called ad caesarem provoco (I appeal to Caesar). This right was ordinarily invoked only as a resource against an unfair sentence so Roman citizens who were guilty of murder or pirates caught in the act, were barred from making this legal appeal. And it was reserved that for full-fledged Roman citizens, common Roman subjects, would never try to invoke it. Paul’s words must have exploded in the courtroom like a hand grenade. The Roman governor had misjudged this respectful man. Beneath Paul’s polite exterior was stainless-steel resolution along with his God-given wisdom.
By granting this appeal, Festus, the governor, seemed relieved to remove himself from the case, transferring it to the Emperor. He was gladly washing his hands of the situation, but he had a new problem. He had to defend himself in writing, explaining why this Roman citizen felt so unfairly treated that he had to appeal to the highest court in the empire.
The hand of God was again moving behind the scenes in the life of this seemingly insignificant Jew. The writings God gave Paul while under house arrest in Rome (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon), have made the world a different place. How often have we missed the silent hand of God moving on our behalf in circumstances around us? He is the God of all creation who delights in using vessels of clay to change the course of history.