About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Section - Chapters 25:23 to 26:32
Paul Before Agrippa (ch. 25:23 – 26:32)
next day everyone met together. The
whole room was filled with high officials, dignitaries and their assistants,
including King Agrippa and his sister Bernice.
All the important people in the city of
King Agrippa that is mentioned here is known as King Agrippa 2.
verse 23 Festus says, "King Agrippa, and all who are present with us
… the whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him (Paul) in
Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live.
I found that he had done nothing worthy of death but because he made his
appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome".
verses 23 to 27 we see Festus as one being in charge here.
He was the official person to open this gathering, but he doesn't have a
real handle on what to do. He admits
that the reason why he wanted Agrippa to hear Paul was in order for him to be
able to write a letter to the Emperor so he would have an understanding of the
nature of the charges against Paul
see that according to what Festus said the Jews in Ceasaera have now joined with
the Jerusalem Jews in the charging of Paul.
They also wanted him dead. It
seems that as time goes on more and more Jews are standing with the Sanhedrin
and against Paul. It is as if a
whole nation is trying to get rid of one man.
says that he found nothing wrong with Paul deserving death.
In fact the only charges the Jews could accuse Paul of were concerning
religious matters, which was not against any Roman law.
Yet to appease the Jews Festus was attempting to get to the bottom of
this matter. We see that Festus was
really in a bit of a bind here. He
needed to appease the Jews, but how could he send a Roman who hasn't committed a
crime to Caesar's court. It made no
Acts 26:, after King Agrippa gave Paul permission to speak Paul stood up to
defend himself once again. I've said
this before, but it's worth saying again. Christians
are not door mats. There is nothing
unbiblical about standing up for yourself in your defense, as Paul is now doing
we continue, this gathering was not a trial.
Paul had already appealed to
verse 2 Paul begins his defense by telling the King that he feels fortunate to
stand before him and give his defense against the charges of the Jews.
I am sure that Paul was exceedingly happy to be able to share the gospel
of Jesus before such an important person.
verse 3 we see that Paul knew that Agrippa understood the customs of the Jews.
He knew the Jewish religion because he was half Jew himself.
verse 4 Paul tells Agrippa that the Jews know very well how he lived, even as a
child in his own country, which would have been the
5 tells us that Paul was a Pharisee, which he says, was the strictest sect of
Judaism. Again, as an adult, Paul
was a well known and important man in Judaism.
When Jesus chose Paul to carry His name to the world, He chose a very
influential and well trained man.
verses 6 through 8 Paul states the reason why he believes the Jews wa
is basically suggesting in his defense that the Jews accusations are not
logical. He states the fact that all
of the twelve tribes are working hard as they wait for the resurrection to come.
If he is preaching about this resurrection, where is the conflict?
Besides, as Paul puts it, "why should any of you consider it
incredible that God raises the dead"? That‘s
a good question. If God is God, then what is the problem with Him raising the
dead? If He created all things,
raising anyone from the dead should not present a problem to anyone.
verse 8 Paul begins to relate his story before he met Jesus.
He was given authority by the chief priests to capture, imprison, and
execute Christians. I believe Acts
22:4 suggests that Paul might well have even killed some of these Christians
himself. If he didn't actually do
the executing, he certainly was in favour of it or maybe even instructed others
to kill Christians on his behalf. Verse
10 tells us that Paul cast his vote to have Christians put to death.
The fact that Paul voted suggests to some people that he was a member of
verse 11 Paul said that he went from synagogue to synagogue to punish these
people and tried to force them to blaspheme their God. There
is one thing to note here. When Paul
was doing these things it was in the early days of the church.
We see that Paul went from one synagogue to another to find Christians.
At this point in time Christians were still gathering in the Jewish
synagogues, and, because they were gathering in synagogues, this would suggest
most of them were Jewish.
verse 11 Paul admits that his attempt to capture Christians was an obsession.
Imprisoning Christians in
might ask what Paul meant when he said he caused the Christians to blaspheme.
There would be two ways of looking at this.
If Paul is thinking of his present day meaning of blaspheming, then what
he meant was that he tried to cause these new Christians to denounce Jesus.
If he was thinking of his old understanding of blaspheming, then he was
trying to make these Christian says something bad against the God of Israel and
the Law. Most feel that the former
is more likely.
verse 12 Paul tells his audience about his conversion on one of these trips that
were sponsored by the chief priests. He
says that he saw a bright light, brighter than the sun.
Of course this light came from Jesus.
It makes you wonder when Jesus returns to earth, we might see this same
bright light. This will most likely
be so since Scripture teaches that every eye will see the return of Jesus as
they would see lightning flashing across the sky.
learn here from what Paul says in verse 13 that when Jesus spoke to him on the
road, He spoke in Aramaic, or, at least that is what the NIV says.
I'm not sure why the NIV says that Jesus spoke in Aramaic at this point.
The Greek text says that He spoke in Hebrew.
should also note that all the men with Paul fell to the ground, along
with Paul. This is not mentioned in
the other descriptions of this event in Acts.
said that "it is hard for you to kick against the goads".
This statement is a statement that had often been used in times previous
to this. This was a common
statement. When an ox was pulling a
cart, a sharp spear like object was used to poke the ox to go faster or turn
directions. This is what Jesus was
telling Paul, or, Saul as he was known then.
Paul was fighting off these pokes. What
actually were these pokes? I am sure
the testimonies of the Christians that Paul imprisoned and later killed
constantly poked at Paul. Jesus was
telling Paul that he was beginning to have a hard time withstanding these pokes.
He was beginning to wear down. This
tells me that prior to Acts 9 and Paul's conversion, the Holy Spirit was
convicting Paul in his heart.
NIV uses the word "goads". The KJV uses the word "pricks".
The Greek word simply means to sting.
It is also used in 1 Corinthians 15:55 in relation to the "sting of
death". It is clear that God
had been poking Paul, or stinging him, trying to get him over to His side, but
it didn't work so Jesus had to use more drastic measure as seen in chapter 9.
asks, “Who are you, Lord”. For
commentary on this question and Jesus’ response see my commentary on chapter
chapter 9 we only see Jesus telling Paul that it is Jesus whom he is
persecuting, and that he needs to go into town where a man named Ananias will
speak to him. But here, in this
chapter Paul adds more to this conversation. It is thus possible that Jesus
actually said more words than what is recorded in Acts 9.
The other possibility is that Paul is summarizing what Jesus told him
directly and what Jesus told him through a prophetic word from Ananias.
Many feel that the latter is what is happening here, that Paul is only
summing up all of what the Lord told him over the 3 days of his conversion.
what Jesus says in verse 16. "I
have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you
have seen of me and of what I will show you".
From the very beginning, Paul met Jesus directly and heard words from his
mouth. Then Jesus told him that He
would speak to Paul again at another time. Remember
Paul went into the third heaven and heard things that he could not speak, that
man should not hear. Jesus told Paul
that he would be a witness to these things.
The same is true concerning us. We
are to be witnesses of Jesus and the things we know about Him.
verses 17 and 18 Jesus goes on to tell Paul, the following.
"I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles".
I wonder if Paul really understood
what these words meant at the time Jesus spoke them to him.
My guess is that he didn’t. Yet
as he stood before Agrippa that day, he certainly saw the fulfillment of these
words, especially the next statement that Jesus makes in verse 18.
"I am sending you to them to open their eyes and to turn them from
darkness to light and from the power of satan to God, so that they may receive
forgiveness of sins, and a place among those who are sanctified in me".
is a lot in these words of Jesus. Jesus
tells Paul that he will be used to open the eyes of both Jews and Gentiles,
helping them to leave their darkness. It
is thus clear that Jesus feels that anyone apart from Him lives in darkness.
He goes one step further. He
tells Paul that he will be used in turning people from satan to God.
I conclude then that Jesus understands that all who are apart from him
are under the influence of satan, something that many of us don't understand
gives two reasons for people to flee from darkness and satan.
Once leaving the darkness and the power of satan, they receive
forgiveness of sins, and then they are counted as those who have been separated
from the rest of mankind, and called children of God.
says that this separation, or sanctification as the NIV puts it, comes through
“faith” in Jesus. Only when one
trusts his life with Jesus can he be part of this sanctified or separated group.
told Paul that He would rescue him from the Jews and Gentiles.
What did He mean? Paul was
standing before the very people Jesus told him that he’d be rescued from. Paul
had suffered much, and would suffer even more in the future because of Jesus.
He would loose his life for Jesus. So
what did Jesus mean when He said that He would rescue Paul from the Jews and the
Gentiles? Well maybe Jesus’
definition of rescuing is different than ours.
When Paul was killed, you might say that Jesus finally rescued him by
bringing him home to heaven. It is
clear to me that man’s definition of certain words and concepts is different
than our Lord’s.
19 tells us that Paul specifically tells Agrippa that he “was not disobedient
to the vision from Heaven”. Remember,
although there are many people present, the King is the important person in the
room and it is to him that Paul is really addressing his words.
20 is important for 2 reasons. The
first reason is that we see the progression to which Paul preached the gospel
to, which is evident as you read the book of Acts.
He says that he first preached to those in
second point is to note what Paul preached.
This is his gospel in one short phrase.
In verse 20 he tells Agrippa, "I preach that they should repent and
turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds".
Paul believed that people had to repent, that is, had to turn from their
wicked ways. You might suggest that
all men are not wicked, only some. Yet
if you study Romans 1 and 2 you will see that Paul clearly teaches that all men
are wicked, at least at heart level. Then
Paul says that once you repent, you turn to God.
The turning to God aspect of salvation is called faith.
Turning to God is trusting in Him for your life, as well as your
Paul adds an interesting point, something that James of Jerusalem would love.
Paul says that once you repent, your deeds should show that you actually
have repented. If your deeds don’t
show it, then Paul would say that you haven’t repented, simple as that.
This aspect of the salvation message is now being left out when preached
by many Evangelicals these days. Repentance
Greek culture repentance meant to change you mind, thus, to change you mind
about sin. This is typically the
definition that Evangelicals have given to the word repentance over the years,
but repentance is more than that. The
Hebrew concept of repentance was to not only change you mind about sin but to
turn from your sin. Thus, this is
the Biblical concept of repentance. Evangelicals
fall short when they teach repentance is simply changing your mind about sin.
They should preach that repentance is walking away from your sin.
Then, once preaching that, they should preach that you need to prove you
have repented by doing good works. The
proof of repentance and faith is important.
That should be a part of our gospel message, but that's not always the
case these days.
tells Agrippa that this is why the Jews seized him and tried to kill him.
The gospel is truly an irritant to people, and even more so these days
when our culture is fast forsaking the Biblical consensus it was once influenced
verses 22 and 23 Paul says that what he preaches is exactly what the prophets
and Moses preached. Of course, this
is not how the Jews saw his preaching, especially when Paul taught that the
Gentiles were included in salvation.
then expresses his feeling that God has helped him to date to survive the Jewish
attacks. Remember that the Lord told
Paul that He would rescue Paul from both the Jews and the Gentiles.
This is most likely why Paul says what he says here.
good Jews were expecting the Christ, or the Messiah, to come and save them from
their enemies and set up His eternal Kingdom on earth.
Paul says that what he is preaching is exactly what the Old Testament Law
and Prophets were speaking of. He
says that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. This
is where he comes in conflict with His accusers.
They don’t believe that Jesus is the Christ.
They saw the Messiah to be a king and Paul preaches from Scripture that
the Messiah indeed was a king but would suffer and die, yet by rising from the
dead, God has made Him Lord of all things, and thus the importance of Paul’s
message is based on the resurrection of Jesus.
Since He has risen, He is Lord, and He is also the first to rise from the
dead. All those who trust in Him
will rise as well.
24 says, "at this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense, ‘you are out
of your mind Paul', he shouted. ‘Your
great learning is driving you insane'". You can tell that Festus was
getting frustrated by what Paul was saying.
Luke says that he interrupted and actually shouted these words at him.
He acknowledged the fact that Paul was a learned man, but he says that
all this learning was the thing that was driving Paul crazy.
respect, in verse 25 Paul replies by saying that "what I am saying is true
and reasonable". Paul says 2
things here. He says what he is
saying is true. As usual he backs up
what he says by what he sees in the Old Testament.
But Paul also says that what he is saying is reasonable.
To me this is important. Many
Christians over the last few decades have by default taken the reasonableness
out of the gospel. By this I mean
that they have laid aside the idea that you can explain the gospel from a
reasonable and intellectual standpoint. It
is not something that should be accepted by mere blind faith.
The gospel is explainable and logical.
verse 26 Paul continues to tell Festus that the King knows all about these
things. Paul is implying that even though Festus doesn’t understand what he is
saying, King Agrippa does because of his understanding of Jewish matters.
Remember, Agrippa is half Jew and half Gentile.
verse 27 Paul turns his face to look at the King and says, "King Agrippa,
do you believe the prophets? I know
you do". Paul is putting the
king on the spot here, something he's clearly not afraid to do.
is a bit of controversy among Bible teachers concerning Paul's question to
Agrippa. Some suggest that Paul was
simply attempting to get Agrippa to agree with him.
Others say that Paul was trying to convert Agrippa.
verse 28 Agrippa responds by saying, "do you think that in such a short
time you can persuade me to be a Christian"?
According to Agrippa's answer in the NIV, Paul appears to be speaking
directly to Agrippa in the attempt to lead him to Jesus.
verse 29 Paul replies, "short time or long – I pray God that not only you
but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these
chains". I have always liked
these words. Once again you see the
heart of Paul. No matter whom he was
speaking to, whether great or small, he wanted them to know Jesus as he did.
He stands up as an example for people to follow, by suggesting that he
hopes others will be as he is, except for his chains of course.
see something happening in this event. Paul
was speaking directly to King Agrippa, although all the others in the room would
be listening and hearing as well. Paul’s
words were beginning to reach Agrippa’s heart.
I believe the Holy Spirit was speaking to Agrippa.
Just when the intensity level began to rise, just when Agrippa seemed
spell bound by what Paul was saying, Festus interrupts by telling Paul that he
was crazy. It was if Paul had a
direct line to Agrippa’s heart, and Festus saw what was happening and so
Festus jumps in to disrupt what was happening.
It was as if satan saw the effect Paul was having on Agrippa and had to
try to spoil it.
these words from Paul the King and Festus get up, thus dismissing the meeting.
While leaving the room they confer with each other.
They conclude in verse 31 that Paul had not done anything that deserves
death or imprisonment. Paul may not
have convinced these men to give their lives to Jesus, but he did convince them
that what he was accused of was not worth death or being put in prison for.
The problem as Agrippa sees it is that Paul could have been set free, but
since he has appealed to Rome, the appeal process must go forth. It
was too late to change at this point.
might then ask the question, "Did Paul do the right thing in appealing to