Paul had been a prisoner at Cæsarea for over two years, held by Roman authorities under charges by Jewish leaders that he caused dissension among the Jews through false teaching that encouraged people to disobey the law, and rebel against Jewish leadership. The apostle was also accused of being the leader of the Nazarenes, a religion not authorized by Roman law.
To justify his transfer to Rome, where he would present his defense to a higher court, Paul continues his address to a dignified audience, including King Agrippa, his sister Bernice, lictors, Cæsarean leaders, and Roman men of arms. First, he shares that he was born a Jew raised under the law, became a zealous Pharisee who persecuted Christians until the day he came in the presence of the Lord, when he found out about his divinely appointed mission to preach and advance the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles. His message, true to the promise delivered by Moses and the prophets, included that Heaven was a real place where God awaited those who placed their hope in Him.
The apostle continued his defense by citing how he responded positively to his encounter with the Christ by leading seekers to repentance, and furthering the kingdom of God.
“24 Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!” (Acts 26:24)
When he heard Paul’s testimony and all that he spoke of to the king, Festus assumed that his prisoner had gone mad. The concept of resurrection from the dead combined with Paul’s startling account of his encounter with the Christ seemed so farfetched to the emperor, he could not conceive it factual.
“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.” (Acts 26:25-27)
Paul defends his passion and extraordinary testimony by stating it was indeed the truth, as a good portion of his exhortation was in tune with the king’s beliefs, as taught by Moses and countless other Jewish prophets who spoke of God’s promise of eternal life.
“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.” (Acts 26:28-29)
Paul’s testimony was so compelling, it tugged at the king’s heart much as it did with Felix, before the emperor stepped down. Embracing his divinely appointed mission, the apostle presses on by sharing his hope for those present, that by faith in the risen Christ they would also inherit a place in Heaven.
“30 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.” (Acts 26:30-32)
After they discussed Paul’s case privately, King Agrippa revealed the Jews’ charges were groundless. However since the prisoner had requested to be judged by a higher court in Rome, Festus had no authority over the prisoner, and could condemn him nor set him free. It was obviously God’s will that the apostle travel to the Roman capital to fulfill his mission to advance the gospel beyond Judea. 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