Event(s): Paul’s early life; Paul recounts his conversion; Agrippa parries Paul’s challenge
Today’s Text: Acts 26:1-32
Tomorrow’s Text: Acts 27:1-26
Since Paul had appealed to Caesar, Governor Festus had him in holding until he was ready to document the charges against him. Because he had found Paul guilty of no crime, he was stuck as to what he should say in presenting him to the emperor. King Agrippa had passed through for a visit, and Governor Festus seized this opportunity to get his insight and see if Agrippa had any recommendations on how to specify Paul’s charges. Our scene opens with Paul now present before them for a hearing.
Acts 26:2 “I think myself happy…” These are Paul’s opening words. When most would have lost their patience by this point, wondering why this whole ordeal won’t just end, Paul considers himself fortunate and gladly sees this as an opportunity, a room full of people, with whom he can share the story of his conversion.
Acts 26:9 “this I did also in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison…” One of the reasons Paul could walk in so much grace and mercy is because he never forgot what he was capable of doing himself, prior to Jesus saving him. We would do well to have the same attitude, when we’re tempted to not forgive. As Jesus said, those who are forgiven much love much. (Luke 7:47, para)
Acts 26:12-18 This is the third account in Acts of Paul’s conversion. There are a couple of new bits of information that Paul had not previously mentioned that add some brilliant new details as he relating his experience. (For comparison, see Acts 9:1-19 and Acts 22:6-21.)
Acts 26:24 “Paul, you are beside yourself!” You’re crazy, Paul. All of this talk about visions, and God talking to you, and rescuing you – and you losing your sight and then getting it back….you’ve lost your mind with all of this Jesus stuff.
Not everyone will receive the message of the Gospel with an open heart and mind. Not everyone will believe that God still works through miracles, signs and wonders. But to those of us who do, all the things of the kingdom will be very real and very accessible.
Acts 26:25 “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.” Paul doesn’t lose his composure or get offended. He maintains a posture of honor and turns his attention to Agrippa, who he knows is tracking with him.
Acts 26:2 “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”
“Agrippa was now on the spot. If he agreed with Paul, or even appeared to agree, he would have lost face with Festus and the other Romans present. Festus had just said he thought Paul was mad. On the other hand, if Agrippa said he did not believe the prophets, his influence over his Jewish hearers and subjects would have been damaged greatly. Consequently Agrippa replied noncommittally, “You are trying to make a Christian out of me in such a short interview!” –Expository on the Book of Acts
We cannot know for certain if conviction was actually stirring in Agrippa’s heart, but chances are, he was deeply touched by what he was hearing.
Acts 26:32 “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.” In Agrippa’s opinion, Paul did not even need to be in prison, much less die for what he had done.
God had stood by Paul and helped him, as He had promised He would. Not just to make it through, not just to survive, but to accomplish his assignment of being a witness for God, to both great and small (vs 22).
Could it be that some of the trials we face in life are less about what is happening “to us”, and instead are opportunities where God can put us on display to showcase His power and love “through us”?
Is there a challenge you’re currently facing where you feel like something is happening “to you”? How would your outlook on that situation change if you instead began to think about ways God could be glorified “through you”? To “witness” means to give evidence of, to attest or confirm, to speak well of, give a good report, testify, or affirm something. Ask God to show you how you can be used to be salt and light in your situation.