Bible Topics In The Christian Library

Versess1-11 "Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You are permitted to speak for yourself." So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: {2} "I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, {3} "especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently. {4} "My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. {5} "They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. {6} "And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. {7} "To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. {8} "Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead? {9} "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. {10} "This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities."

A. "Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You are permitted to speak for yourself."
1. Festus extended the courtesy of Agrippa examining the prisoner.
2. Festus spoke in great respect to Agrippa, though it is obvious who was the more powerful man here.
B. "I think myself happy, King Agrippa..."
1. Paul was glad to appear before Agrippa.
2. Two reasons
a. He was to have a complete opportunity to speak in detail.
b. Agrippa was knowledgeable enough to have a full understanding of what Paul would say.
c. The Herod's were know for their indepth knowledge of the Jewish religion. It was, however, a knowledge that was used to control their people and satisfied the curiosity of a historian, not one that would lead to a faith in God on the part of any of them. We have no record that any of them was pious in the least.
C. Paul says that he was a faithful Jew from his early life.
1. Paul was a pharisee - the strictest sect of the Jews. All those who were so bitterly opposed to him were his peers from the beginning. This probably accounts for the intense hatred on their part.
2. He always sought to follow God and looked for the hope of the messiah. This is what caused him to become a Christian and to get in trouble with his fellow Jews.
D. "Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?"
1. Here was the crux of Christianity. Either Jesus is raised from the dead and his is King of King and Lord of Lords, or it is a useless fable. See Romans 1:4
E. Paul understood how one could be opposed to Christianity.
1. He states that he was an enemy of Christ at first.
2. Paul did two things against Christianity.
a. He actively put Christians in prisons.
b. He voted for their death. While in theory the Roman governor was the only person who could condemn a prisoner it is quite possible that theSanhedrin did this in defiance of a weak governor.
c. It is also possible that the granting of the Roman governor was a formality and the Sanhedrin was often allowed a wide latitide in matters of religion, as long as it did not cause a disturbance of the peace
d. The casting of a vote leads some to believe that Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin.
3. Paul, much like those who opposed him later, went into the synagogue to spy out those whom he suspected of being Christian. He would interrogate them until they had blasphemed (at least according to him) and then threw them into prison or worse.
Verses 12-18- ""While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, {13} "at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. {14} "And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' {15} "So I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. {16} 'But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. {17} 'I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, {18} 'to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'"
A. Paul had been journeying to Damascus to carry out his program of persecuting Christians.
1. He had a commission from the High Priest to pick up suspected Christians and take them back to Jerusalem.
B. The Vision.
1. Paul gives no new information in this rendering. He recounts how that a light shown upon him and his companions at about midday. This was a light brighter than the sun, thus not to be mistaken for the noonday sun.
2. There was also a voice in hebrew asking Paul why he was persecuting him.
3. The voice identified himself as being the Lord and instructing him to go into the city. Paul would be a great witness to the Gentiles to preach the gospel.
C. Paul's mission.
1. To open peoples' eyes.
2. To turn them from darkness to light
3. To deliver them from the power of Satan
4. What for? So that they could receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ.
Acts 26:19-23- ""Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, {20} "but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. {21} "For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. {22} "Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come; {23} "that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.""
A. Paul immediately did what Jesus commanded him to do.
1. Paul excludes the full details of his conversion in this chapter. See chapters 9 and 22 for more details.
2. Paul began teaching that people should repent and turn to God.
a. This is basically the same answer as 2:38 and 3:19. And dovetails perfectly with what the Lord said in Luke 13:3,5 and Acts 2:38.
3. He also instructed people that one must show a changed life to go with repentance. See Ephesians 2:10; Matthew 3:8.
B. This was the real reason why Paul's enemies had seized him.
1. It was because of his preaching, not any wicked action, that they sought to kill him.
2. Paul claimed to simply be preaching the same message that Moses and the prophets of God had done, that Christ would come to suffer, die, rise from the dead, and be proclaimed both to Jew and Gentile.
Acts 26:24-29- "Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!" {25} But he said, "I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. {26} "For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. {27} "King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe." {28} Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You almost persuade me to become a Christian." {29} And Paul said, "I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.""
A. Festus betrays his deep ignorance.
1. Festus admitted to much ignorance in thsi case, now he showed that he was totally lacking in spiritual discernment. He accused Paul of being made.
2. Paul very calmly answers this shouting accusation. Paul says that he is not mad (crazy) but is simply speaking the truth.
B. Paul then turns back to the primary audience.
1. He was convinced that Agrippa knew more about these matters, enough to know that Paul was not crazy. None of these things were done in secret, they were public knowledge to anyone who had lived in the area for any length of time and would bother to listen.
2. It was obvious that Agrippa had at least a measure of faith in the prophets. Paul said, "I know that you do believe."
C. "You almost persuade me to become a Christian"
1. There is some difference in opinion as to the exact intent in this passage. It is either a declaration that Agrippa is almost convinced to become a Christian, or that he was saying it in a mocking manner. The confusion is seen in the various ways this passage is translated.
a. "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" - KJV
b. "In a short time you are persuading me to become a Christian" - RSV
c. "Much more of this and you will make me a Christian" - Phillips
2. It would seem to me that it would be much more in the context of the passage for the King to be "amost persuaded" to be come a Christian.
D. ""And Paul said, "I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.""
1. This seems to show that Paul recognized that his listener was close to a decision to obey the Gospel.
2. Paul's answer reminds us of Mark 12:34.
Acts 26:30-32- "When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them; {31} and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, "This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains." {32} Then Agrippa said to Festus, "This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.""
A. It was obvious from Paul's speech that he was an innocent man.
1. Talking among themselves insinuates that they were in agreement.
B. "This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.""
1. There are times when the wheels of a legal system begin turning that it is difficult to stop.
2. The providence of God was surely at work here. Paul used the appeal to Caesar as a defense against his enemies, now it would keep him in bonds for months when he might have been freed. But it also would enable him to go to Rome to preach to people as high as those in Caesar's household.
C. One other point concerning Agrippa's statement.
1. Coffman insists that he can see the hand of God in the matter in later events.
2. Everyone connected with the case; Ananias, Felix, Drusilla, Bernice, Festus, the Sanhedrin, and Nero himself, all met bad ends. Only Agrippa continued peacefully in his office until he died at the turn of the century. He believes that God protected him for his kindness toward Paul. 
Copyright 1999 by Grady Scott may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.

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