Here in Chapter 26 of the book of Acts, Paul is heard by king Agrippa, with Festus looking on. As The Acts Challenge 2019 draws to a close, I want to thank you for joining me for this amazing journey and I pray that God has opened your eyes to new and mighty things. I know that’s what happened for me!
Paul Gets to Speak for Himself
(Vs. 1) Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
(Vs. 2) I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:
(Vs. 3) Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.
Paul had known all along that king Agrippa would understand what he was trying to say. He begins by asking the king to be patient with him as he begins to explain.
From Paul’s Youth
(Vs. 4) My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
(Vs. 5) Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
(Vs. 6) And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
(Vs. 7) Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
(Vs. 8) Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?
Having been one of the strictest Pharisees, and very zealous in his undertaking, Paul now wonders why it should be a crazy idea that God could raise the dead. Why would it be a crazy idea that God could do ANYTHING?
The Way Things Used to Be
(Vs. 9) I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
(Vs. 10) Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
The fact that Paul had a “vote” in the deaths of the Christians means he was likely on the council, or in the Sanhedrin… one of the very group that was accusing him and had been accusing him since this all started.
No doubt, though he doesn’t say it here, he has thought back many times to those Christians he helped to murder. I can’t imagine the guilt, the condemnation, and yet to go on and preach Jesus and His Glory. It should give us all hope!
(Vs. 11) And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme, and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
Recounting the Damascus Road
(Vs. 12) Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
(Vs. 13) At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
(Vs. 14) And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in a Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
(Vs. 15) And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
(Vs. 16) But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
(Vs. 17) Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
(Vs. 18) To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
After his encounter with Jesus, Paul had ONE mission, and one only. And he was always fervently allowing the Holy Ghost to direct his path and show him how to do that.
Not Disobedient To the Vision
(Vs. 19) Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
This verse just stopped me cold. Lord knows I’ve been disobedient to God many times. It’s one of the things I’ve had to repent for time and time again!
(Vs. 20) But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
Paul says here that he preached to those at Damascus first. The very place he was headed to imprison more Christians. He wound up going and actually seeing even more Christians converted! And he says that they should 1)REPENT, 2) TURN to God, and 3) DO WORKS meet for repentance.
Works-based faith? Certainly not! Works… MEET FOR REPENTANCE. Works from a penitent heart. Works that were outer evidence of an inner change.
(Vs. 21) For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.
Still Preaching the Message
(Vs. 22) Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
(Vs. 23) That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
(Vs. 24) As he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
As soon as Jesus is preached, as soon as the Truth is revealed, it’s obvious that the enemy is provoked. Festus chides Paul, calling him mad for the things he said.
(Vs. 25) But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
(Vs. 26) For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.
Paul defended his own sanity while also being respectful to Festus. He went on to say, though, that none of these things had been done “in a corner” as if to be hidden from anyone’s view. He was sure the king already knew everything he was talking about.
King Agrippa: Almost Persuaded
(Vs. 27) King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
(Vs. 28) Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
The words Agrippa said to Paul have to be some of the saddest a person can hear. He was ALMOST persuaded to be a Christian. He ALMOST gave himself to the one that could save his soul from eternal damnation.
(Vs. 29) And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.
Conviction or No?
(Vs. 30) And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:
The fact that the king got up straightaway when Paul said these things, and left, speaks volumes to the fact that he was likely experiencing conviction. Maybe for what he had just said. Maybe for everything that had gone on in his life up to this one point. We simply don’t know the details.
(Vs 31) And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.
(Vs. 32) Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.
Shifting the conversation, Agrippa let his company know that he too, did not think Paul worthy of death, or even imprisonment. What’s more, he told Festus he would have released Paul if Paul had not already appealed to Caesar.