Paul’s Introduction to Agrippa
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You may speak in your defense.” So Paul, gesturing with his hand, started his defense:
“I am fortunate, King Agrippa, that you are the one hearing my defence today against all these accusations made by the Jewish leaders, for I know you are an expert on all Jewish customs and controversies. Now please listen to me patiently! As the Jewish leaders are well aware, I was given a thorough Jewish training from my earliest childhood among my own people and in Jerusalem. If they would admit it, they know that I have been a member of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of our religion. Now I am on trial because of my hope in the fulfilment of God’s promise made to our ancestors. In fact, that is why the twelve tribes of Israel zealously worship God night and day, and they share the same hope I have. Yet, Your Majesty, they accuse me for having this hope! Why does it seem incredible to any of you that God can raise the dead?”Acts 26:1-8
Paul’s Testimony Related to the Case (to Agrippa)
“I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene. Indeed, I did just that in Jerusalem. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse Jesus. I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities.
One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.’
‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked.
And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. Tell people that you have seen me, and tell them what I will show you in the future. And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’
And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven. I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do. Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me. But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen—that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike.”Acts 26:9-23
Festus’ Reaction and Paul’s Response
Suddenly, Festus shouted, “Paul, you are insane. Too much study has made you crazy!”
But Paul replied, “I am not insane, Most Excellent Festus. What I am saying is the sober truth. And King Agrippa knows about these things. I speak boldly, for I am sure these events are all familiar to him, for they were not done in a corner!Acts 26:24-26
Final Comments to Agrippa
King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do—”
Agrippa interrupted him. “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?”
Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.”
Then the king, the governor, Bernice, and all the others stood and left. As they went out, they talked it over and agreed, “This man hasn’t done anything to deserve death or imprisonment.”
And Agrippa said to Festus, “He could have been set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.”Acts 26:27-32
- Notice how Acts Chapter 26 follows seamlessly from the previous chapter.
- Why did Paul primarily address his defense to Agrippa?
- Why so many personal appeals to Agrippa? He was a late, invited guest.
- Why doesn’t he appeal to Festus who is the Roman Governor and the one responsible for the report to Caesar?
- In fact Paul seems to ignore Festus and spoke only to Agrippa.
- Was he just schmoozing Agrippa? It sure sounds like a lot of flattery.
- What were Paul’s hand gestures?
- Was Agrippa really an expert in Jewish customs and controversies?
- Why aren’t Paul’s opening statements more related to the charges against him and the case itself?
- It sure is a curious way to defend himself against the charges. In fact Paul seems to ignore the charges altogether. Why?
- Why so much emphasis on the hope in the fulfilment of God’s promises?
- Why does Agrippa (a Jew) not react to the Gentile comment like all Jews before him?
- Note the similarities to the speech in Acts 22, yet there are marked differences.
- Why did Paul bring up “the raising of the dead”? There are no Pharisees or Sadducees present.
- Why mentioned he opposed the name of Jesus and Christians?
- Why the “kicking against the pricks” comment? What does it mean?
- The importance of verses 16 to 18.
- Who are the “small and great” when it seems all those invited to the hearing were “great”?
- What is the reason for Festus’ outburst?
- Was Paul disrespectful to Festus? After he is the one who will decide in the end not Agrippa.
- It is Festus who wrote the report for Caesar, not Agrippa.
- Has Paul lost perspective in the midst of his passion and zeal?
- Did Agrippa really believe the prophets? Was this more schmooze?
- Did Agrippa come close to believing?
- Paul’s last statement seems to be very courageous.
- Why didn’t Festus and Agrippa just let Paul go?
- Everything points to that fact he had done nothing deserving death or IMPRISONMENT! They agreed!
Well there are some juicy questions in that lot. Some interesting times of discussion and pondering lay ahead of us. Take the time to take stock for yourself before we begin to answer them. I have interspersed my questions amid yours.
The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.Ian Vail
You’ll ultimately loose what you don’t understand.Jeffrey Rachmat
So above all take the time to understand from all sides and perspectives.Ian Vail
Jesus died for people, not principles; be prepared to do the same.Ian Vail
Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.Anon