Sunday School Lesson: Paul’s Trial before Festus

This free Bible lesson for children continues the journey through Acts. Specifically, it covers Paul’s trial before Festus.  Students will learn that the Holy Spirit enables believers to trust the Lord and wait patiently for God to help them through difficulties.  This study is based on the 25th chapter of the book of Acts.

The lesson was originally prepared for older students.  Use this as your guide to help teach the students in your class.  Adapt according to the needs of your students. Click here to see all the lessons in this curriculum series.

Bible Story: Paul’s Trial Before Governor Fetus
ScriptureActs 25
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Supply List: Bibles, object to play hot potato (Memory Verse), CD player, grab bag items of things we wait for, pictures or flannels to help visualize the lesson.

Learning Goal: Students will learn that the Holy Spirit enables believers to trust the Lord and wait patiently for God to help them through difficulties.

Learning Indicator: Students will demonstrate their comprehension of the lesson by answering review questions.

Learning Activity #1: How Long?  Use a grab bag of items that symbolize things we wait for. (baby doll-birth of a baby/adoption, seed packet, birthday present, vacation/trip, salvation of a loved one, return of Jesus, etc.)

Test: Review Questions

Memory Verse: Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” (NIV)

Memory Verse Activity: Play ‘hot potato’ by having students pass an object while music is being played.  The student holding the potato when the music stops can:  recite the verse by him/herself, lead the class in saying  the verse together, or another choice that would not intimidate the student from wanting to participate in the game.

Bible Lesson:  Paul’s trial before Festus

(Before students arrive write “That’s not ___  ____  ____  ____!”  (Fair) on the board.)

(Open the Bible lesson time with prayer.)

As you came in this morning and saw this phrase on the board did you guess what word goes in the blanks?

How many of you have ever said, “That’s not fair!”  What are some examples that cause us to say that?  (Allow responses)

As we have been studying the Book of Acts, can you think of any examples of people being treated unfairly?  (Stephen, persecuted believers, imprisoned apostles, Paul being stoned, beaten, arrested, etc)

Because believers have the Holy Spirit living inside their hearts they have the power to respond with courage and perseverance when they are treated unfairly.

(Review the last few lessons about Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem if they were taught)  What happened to Paul when he arrived in Jerusalem after his 3rd missionary journey? (He was arrested)  How did he respond to his arrest?  (He shared the Good News with the crowd) How did God protect Paul when over 40 Jews made a vow to kill him?  (The commander sent him to Caesarea with 470 soldiers to protect him)

(Acts 24 Summary)  The commander sent Paul to the governor of Caesarea named Felix.  Felix didn’t like the message Paul told him about Jesus and left him in prison.  He was hoping Paul would bribe him by paying money to let him go free.  Paul did what was right before God and didn’t try to get out of jail by being dishonest (Acts 24:16).  After 2 years Paul had not paid money to be released and the time for a new governor to replace Felix came.  Now that Felix’s time to be governor had come to an end, he could have released Paul.  Instead he wanted to please the unbelieving Jews and do them a favor by keeping him in prison.

Do you think Paul is being treated fairly?  How many days is 2 years?  (730) That is a long time to be in prison for not doing anything wrong.  If you were Paul how do you think you would respond to being unfairly imprisoned?

Our Bible verse today helps us to see how we should respond to our circumstances that seem unfair.  Recite Psalm 37:7.  How can a person be still and wait patiently for the Lord when people are treating him/her unfairly?  Let’s turn in our Bibles to Acts 25 to see how the Holy Spirit enabled Paul to be still and wait patiently for the Lord.

The new governor that replaced Felix is named Festus.  Three days after he became governor he traveled to Jerusalem.  In Jerusalem the Jewish religious leaders met with Festus.  Read Acts 25:3. The unbelieving Jews still had Paul on their mind even after 2 years had passed.  They were still plotting to have Paul eliminated.

Festus told them if they wanted to accuse Paul of committing a crime they should travel with him to Caesarea.  In Caesarea he would have another trial to prove whether Paul had done anything wrong.

Acts 25:6-7 Once again Paul is surrounded by unbelieving Jews who are determined to have him killed.  They surround him and accuse him of serious crimes with no witnesses to prove that he actually did those things.

These false accusations against Paul are very much like the false accusations that the Religious leaders spoke about Jesus.  Matthew 26:59-61

Read Acts 25:8.  Paul knew that his conscience was clear before God and man.  Acts 24:16

Festus was getting nowhere with this trial.  He knew that Paul had not committed any crime that he could be punished for.  He wanted to please the unbelieving Jews and do them a favor so he thought Paul might like to travel to Jerusalem and have another trial there.

The Holy Spirit gave Paul wisdom and the ability to remember God’s words to him.  Let’s flip over to Acts 23:11.  God has given Paul specific details about where he would testify and share the Good News.  What specific place did God tell Paul he would testify?  (Rome) Since God was very clear in His plan for Paul, he knew that it was not God’s plan for him to return to Jerusalem since he already testified there.  Paul told Festus that the charges the Jews had against him were not true.  He told Festus that he wanted to go to the highest authority.  He asked to stand before Caesar.  Festus talked with his advisors and said, “You have asked to stand before Caesar.  To Caesar you will go!”

Paul may have wondered why he had to travel to Rome as a prisoner.  He loved the Lord Jesus and had been obedient to share the Good News wherever he went.  He would have obediently traveled to Rome.  Whether Paul wondered why he had to be imprisoned or not, the Holy Spirit enabled him to be patient and trust God to use his life in the way He knew was best.  It was God’s plan for Paul to go to Rome and if it was God’s plan for him to go as a prisoner he would trust God.

Acts 25:13-22 A few days after the trial with Paul, King Agrippa and his sister Bernice visited Festus.  As Festus spent time with Agrippa during his visit he talked with him about his situation with Paul.  He explained that Paul had not been accused of any crimes that he would have expected.  He learned that the real issue that the Jews were accusing Paul about had to deal with a man named Jesus.  Read Acts 25:19.  Festus told Agrippa that Paul didn’t want to go to Jerusalem for a trial but asked to go to Caesar and allow him to hear the case.  King Agrippa said that he would like to hear Paul speak.  Festus agreed that the following day he would bring Paul to speak before King Agrippa.

Acts 25:23-27 The next day King Agrippa and his sister came to hear Paul.  Festus brought Paul in and explained to King Agrippa once again that he could not find any crime that Paul had committed.  Since Paul asked to go to Rome he was going to send him to Rome.  He needed advice on what to write to the Emperor so he would know why Paul had been sent to him (Acts 23:25-30).

The story of Paul before Agrippa continues in the next chapter.  We are going to stop here for today.  Paul has spent quite a bit of time waiting to go to Rome where God said he would go.  He responds to this time of being unfairly accused and imprisonment as a time where he waits patiently on the Lord.  He does not fret over his unfair treatment.  If you are a believer the Holy Spirit can enable you to be patient and trust the Lord when you are facing difficulties.  Whether it is being treated unfairly or waiting for God to answer your prayer about some other difficulty, you can be still and trust God during that time.

If you have not been saved you won’t have the power of the Holy Spirit to help you when you face difficult situations.  God loves you and has sent His Son Jesus to die for your sins.  He was buried and rose again the third day.  Because Jesus died in your place you can have a right relationship with God by believing in Jesus.  Once you believe in the Lord Jesus the Holy Spirit comes and lives in your heart.  With the Holy Spirit living in your heart you will have the power to live a life that pleases God and He will give you peace when you are facing difficulties.  If you would like to know more about how to become a Christian or if you have any questions please talk to us after we pray.

Close in prayer.

Review Questions:

  1. What is the name of the governor who replaces Felix? (Festus)
  2. Where was Paul for 2 years? (Prison)
  3. Why did the Jews want Festus to bring Paul to Jerusalem?  (They planned to kill him)
  4. Who gave Paul the ability to be patient and trust the Lord as he sat in prison?  (The Holy Spirit)
  5. Why did Paul not want to go to Jerusalem?  (He knew that God told him he would testify in Rome)
  6. What did King Agrippa ask Festus? (To hear Paul speak)
  7. How can you respond as you wait for God to help you in your difficult situation?  (Psalm 37:7)
  8. Why should you trust God?  (He knows the purpose and plan for our lives and will always take care of us)