Paul’s Introduction to Agrippa
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You may speak in your defence.”
So Paul, gesturing with his hand, started his defence: “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
So what was the Promise of God and the reason for their hope?
What were they hoping for?
God had promised:
- Israel they would be His people and He would be their God.
- God would send them a prophet like Moses.
- They were to await the coming Messiah who would save them from their sins.
- God would put a new heart within them and turn their hearts back to Him.
- God would cause them to know him from the least to the greatest.
- God would indwell them and they would hear His voice again.
Ubeknown to Israel, God’s plan was for all people and not just Israel. This motif runs through the whole Bible.
- Why did God choose Israel?
- What had they done to deserve the choice?
In a brief outline of the Bible,
God creates mankind,
mankind sins to the point where their every thought is only evil all the time.
So God destroys them in a flood and saves eight people.
From those saved God chooses one man, Abraham,
and through him promises a nation
to be an example of His people.
- In what way are the Jews God’s people?
- Why were they chosen?
God selected one nation so people would know He was God. How? By observing their interaction with God others would know they were chosen as His people to show how He works with mankind. When they obeyed His Laws (principles for life) they would be blessed. When they didn’t obey His Laws they would be cursed? God tells us clearly why he chose the Jews as His people. In the book Deuteronomy where Moses recounts all the Israelites had experienced and why, he wrote the following words:
“After the LORD your God has done this for you, don’t say in your hearts, ‘The LORD has given us this land because we are such good people!’ No, it is because of the wickedness of the other nations that he is pushing them out of your way. It is not because you are so good or have such integrity that you are about to occupy their land. The LORD your God will drive these nations out ahead of you only because of their wickedness, and to fulfil the oath he swore to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You must recognize that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land because you are good, for you are not—you are a stubborn people.Deuteronomy 9:4-6
I once gave an Iranian man, who challenged me in a God’s Awesome Book seminar in Hamilton NZ, this reason for why God chose the Jews. He told me that I had almost persuaded him about Christianity with what I had said about fulfilled prophecy. But then he said with venom, “But then you said that “God chose the Jews. Any God who chooses the Jews I choose to turn my back on.” With that comment he pivoted and showed me the back of his neck. I knew I was talking with someone from the Middle East. I asked him, “Ah but why did God choose the Jews?”
He said angrily, “I don’t know and I don’t care.
To which I replied, “He could have chosen the Jews because they were the smartest.”
To which he protested vehemently. I continued, “More Jews have won the Nobel Prize in various fields than any other race on earth. But He didn’t. He could have chosen the Jews because they were the best at business. But He didn’t. He could have chosen the Jews for a number of reasons but in Deuteronomy He tells us why he choose the Jews. Because they were the most stubborn.” He agreed with that reason.
I figure God chose the most stubborn of people to show how He works with all mankind. We human beings all have a tendency to be stubborn, especially when it comes to relating to God. So God went for the most contrary and told the rest of mankind to watch how He would deal with the Jewish race so we would all understand. Am I any different? No, I can be one stubborn hombre if I am not careful. I figure He chose a hard bunch of stubborn people to show the world how He works with human kind.
However the Bible is clear that God’s ultimate intention and love was always toward all humans. After all He created us to have a relationship with Him. The ultimate goal of saving the nations (the Goy, the Gentiles) is woven through the pages of the Bible. The coming Prophet and the coming Messiah are one person. Through this One, the Jews and ultimately all mankind would be brought back to God. When the Messiah came He would restore relationship with God, He would take out the heart of stone and give us all a heart of flesh. Ultimately He would dwell within us by His Spirit. The only hidden feature of this plan was that Messiah would come the first time to suffer and die and pay mankind’s debt – Messiah the Suffering Servant (Ha Messiach Ben Joseph; Messiah the Son of Joseph). Then He would come as the reigning and ruling Messiah – Messiah the King – Ha Messiach Ben David, Messiah the Son of David). The Jews just did not realise that Messiah would come once to die and then would come again to reign. They expected Him to reign the first time He came.
The hope of all Jews is for Messiah to come to usher in the Life of the Age to Come – Life as it was designed to be at Creation, in the Garden of Eden. But that restoration will come in stages only through Jesus the Messiah. The process required for Him to die in order that He be resurrected again, so that we all can escape the second death – ultimate separation from God.
Paul was explaining to Agrippa the hope that all Jews have in the Messiah. They thought it was to be an earthly kingdom when Messiah came and He would overthrow the Romans and reign from Jerusalem. He will but not yet. First He was destined to die for all mankind and then be raised again to life, to become the forerunner of the resurrection we will all experience. This is what threatened the Romans because the Jews hoped for a Messiah who would drive out the Romans. Hence all the talk about Paul’s involvement in sedition and being an insurrectionist for preaching such things because he was speaking of another ruler and another kingdom. The Jewish leaders missed the fact that Messiah was destined to die for the sins of all people (Gentiles included) the first time around.
Paul is telling King Agrippa that he, Paul, is on trial because of His hope in God and in the Messiah. The same hope that all the twelve tribes of Israel had and indeed the same hope that Agrippa himself had, as a member of the Jewish race.
I Paul and preaching and teaching the same things that you are hoping for King Agrippa.
Why does it seem incredible to any of you that God can raise the dead?
My question to you before the next Gems: How can Paul so boldly preach these things?
Past forgiven, Purpose for livin’, Home in heaven. Man, what a life and what a future hope.Rick Godwin
People with hope can dance without music.Ian Vail
Jesus changed my hopeless end into an endless hope.Ian Vail
What is it that you are hoping in? I hope it has a hope of coming to pass.Ian Vail