At the request of King Agrippa, Festus, the Roman emperor stationed at Cæsarea brought Paul before a dignified audience made of the king, his sister Bernice, lictors, Cæsarean leaders, and Roman men of arms. The goal for this hearing was for Agrippa to help Festus compose a letter that would accompany the apostle to Rome. The letter would contain the reason why the prisoner was transferred to a higher court, as well as outline the charges against him.
“1 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.” (Acts 26:1-3)
Though Festus was ruler over Judea, Agrippa, a king had authority over the Roman emperor, hence it was the king who called Paul and invited the prisoner to speak. First, the apostle celebrates the fact King Agrippa was well versed in all Jewish customs, being the legal guardian of the Jewish temple and a competent judge of Jewish laws.
“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.” (Acts 26:4-5)
Paul continues his address by appealing to his upbringing as a Jew, which eventually led to his becoming a notable Pharisee, the most expert and accurate expositors of Jewish law. Unlike Sadducees who believed that humans have total free will and the Essenes believed that all of a person’s life is predestined, Pharisees were part of a strict Jewish sect who believed people have free will but that God also has foreknowledge of human destiny.
“6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers.” (Acts 26:6)
Paul cites the fact he was being prosecuted for believing and preaching the glorious promise of a Messiah, made by Yahweh, the God of Israel. To the apostle, this promise, found throughout Jewish scriptures had been fulfilled in Jesus, the Christ and Savior.
“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.” (Acts 26:7)
The twelve tribes, or “Children of Israel” are direct descendants of the patriarch Jacob. The “hope” mentioned by Paul was that of a coming Messiah, the Son of God and King of kings. The apostle describes how the Jews accused him of preaching and teaching about the very “promise” made by God onto which all Jews rested their hope within.
“8 Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?” (Acts 26:8)
Paul leverages the teachings of Moses and the prophets to his defense, as scripture revealed the coming of a Savior, in Christ, a Jew who would be raised from the dead. This “hope” of a resurrection was at the root of the charges against the apostle.
“9 Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” (Acts 26:9)
Now, Paul reveals how as a zealous Jew, he campaigned aggressively against Christians and prosecuted them throughout Judea.
“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. 11 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.” (Acts 26:10-11)
To further explain his role as a prosecutor of followers of Jesus, Paul shares that he was an appointed member of the Sanhedrin who killed, tortured and terrified Christians. It is truly miraculous that such a persecutor of Christians would later be chosen to further the kingdom of God and lead countless souls to Christ. Let’s pray!
We thank you for your blessings in our lives and for your servant Luke,
We praise you Lord for his wisdom and for his works through this scripture,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use these verses in our lives
As we grow in you through the teachings of your faithful apostle.
Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through battles,
Allow us to praise and love each other through faith in you Jesus,
Shield us from evil through truth, the gospel, salvation and prayer,
Guide us to abide by your word as we spread your gospel to one and all
Becoming examples of faith through our character as we walk the narrow path.
God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your word, your everlasting wisdom and strength.
May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.
We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre