Acts 26

Day 26, Acts 26.

This chapter begins with King Agrippa giving Paul permission to speak. This reminds me of the fact that God is our King and is the one we should go to when we seek permission to speak. So often we speak without thinking, without considering what we are saying, sometimes when we should hold our tongues. Do YOU ask God if you can speak, what you should say?

Paul was grateful that King Agrippa was present because he was an expert on the customs and questions concerning Jews. Paul laid out the briefest of personal histories, including the fact of why he was being accused – that he hold on to the promise which the Jews had been given long ago. He asked the question, “Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead?” I think this is something we all need to ask ourselves! WHY is it so hard to embrace the fact that God raises the dead? Oh, we might say we believe it. We might agree with the facts. But our lives are empty of God’s power. Its because while we might agree with facts, we have no faith – that knowledge does not affect our lives. We need more than simple knowledge, we must trust in the facts and the promises inherent in those facts. God sent His Son to suffer and die for our sins, resurrected Him on the third day, so those who trust in what God did might have eternal life. Do you trust God? Do you have faith in Christ?

Paul went on to say how he persecuted those who followed Christ – even pursuing them to foreign cities.

12 “While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, 13 at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you;17 rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’

 Paul and those with him were knocked to the ground. Jesus spoke to him in the Hebrew dialect (whether that was Hebrew or Aramaic is unknown), telling him he had been appointed a minister and witness to what he HAS seen and to the things in which Jesus would appear to Paul. Jesus sent Paul to the Gentiles so they could open their eyes, turn to God, so they could receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance.
Paul said that he had told Jews and Gentiles where ever he had gone to repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. And THAT was why the Jews seized him and tried to put him to death. But God helped him so he he could say what the Prophets and Moses had prophecied: “that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”
Festus claimed that Paul’s great learning had driven him crazy. Paul’s response? “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I utter words of sober truth.” Then he challenged King Agrippa with, “do you believe the Prophets? I know that you do.” Agrippa told Paul it would not take long to convert him. 
After Paul was finished, King Agrippa and Festus decided, “This man is not doing anything worthy of death or imprisonment.” And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”
The chapter ended with Agrippa saying that had Paul not stood up for his rights, he might have been set free. But since he had appealed to Caesar, he had to go to Caesar, otherwise Festus would have been in trouble with the Roman authorities. They had a law that any Roman citizen on trial who appealed to Caesar had to be sent to Caesar, or those who denied that appeal would suffer severe consequences – death.
But while Paul might have been set free, God’s purpose would not have been met. Paul was to go to Rome to speak to the rulers there about Christ. Do you do what’s needed to speak to those who need to hear the truth?
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