Acts 26

Acts 26

Paul’s Defense Before Agrippa

26 So Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense:

“I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.

“My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?

“I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

Paul Tells of His Conversion

“In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

“Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”

Then the king rose, and the governor and Bernice and those who were sitting with them. And when they had withdrawn, they said to one another, “This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.” And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”


Acts 26 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

In this chapter, Paul gives his most exhaustive and evangelistic appeal to Agrippa II. If you remember, he has appealed to Caesar. But in the meantime, Agrippa II is passing through visiting Festus along with his sister Bernice. Festus asks Agrippa what he should write on the charge sheet before sending Paul over for his appeal, but Agrippa would like to speak with Paul first. Much like his great-grandfather Herod the Great, he liked to be entertained by Jewish religious matters.

In fact, he was considered a well-known authority on Jewish scriptures as well as their affairs. Although he didn’t quite live up to the Herod dynasty of murder and tyranny, he still arrogantly considered himself intellectually and socially superior to someone like Paul. The truth was, at this time, Agrippa was living in an incestuous relationship with his sister Bernice. In the end, as we will read, he didn’t really care that much about the Jews or the Christians, as he was truly a politician at heart.

So Agrippa speaks with Paul, and we read that Paul gives a full testimony of his personal experience with Jesus. Paul knows that Agrippa is well-schooled in the Scriptures, and would, at the very least, listen and be entertained by his words. At the most, Paul was hoping for a conversion! He gives an evangelistic message, and Agrippa responds by saying, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’

Paul didn’t waver. He boldly responded by saying, “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.” Again, the amazing faith of Paul on display.

And with that, Agrippa had heard enough. He was entertained. He had shown up and felt important for his contribution. But he would not sit and listen any longer because he had been forced into a corner. If he had said to those who were gathered that he did not believe in the prophets of old, he would have enraged the Jews. However, if he admitted that he did believe in the prophets, then he would have been forced to deal with Paul’s words.

Though knowing a lot about the Scriptures, hearing of how his great-grandfather tried to kill a baby Jesus, watching as his father, Agrippa I, beheaded James and arrested Peter, and finally hearing the firsthand testimony of Paul; his heart was still hardened. The sad part is, he was a decently fair man. As he walked out, he admitted privately to Festus that Paul was innocent of all charges!

The hard lesson for Agrippa that applies so much today is that we can have a lot of Bible knowledge, hear a personal testimony, and even be a pretty good person. Those things won’t provide us justification before a Holy God.

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