William Stout / General; Kids
Acting Out Acts part 26
Acts 25:1–5 NKJV
Now when Festus had come to the province, after three days he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
Then the high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul; and they petitioned him,
asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem—while they lay in ambush along the road to kill him.
But Festus answered that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself was going there shortly.
“Therefore,” he said, “let those who have authority among you go down with me and accuse this man, to see if there is any fault in him.”
- Paul had already been held at least two years under Felix as Governor
- Had reasoned with Felix concerning righteousness, temperance and judgment to come.
- Now Festus has become Governor, the Jews attempt again to persuade him to turn Paul over to them
- they waited until Festus was in Jerusalem and tried to get him to have Paul brought there, so they could catch hi mon the way
- But Festus refused and invited them to back to Caesarea with him instead, to bring their case against Paul
Acts 25:7 NKJV
When he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood about and laid many serious complaints against Paul, which they could not prove,
- False accusations were brought against him
- Although these accusations were troublesome, they were not able to prove them
- Paul was able to reply in defense and they had no proof –
Acts 25:9–11 NKJV
But Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor, answered Paul and said, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and there be judged before me concerning these things?”
So Paul said, “I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged. To the Jews, I have done no wrong, as you very well know.
For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar.”
- Festus knew that Paul had not done anything worthy of punishment,
- It was clear that they had not proven any of their charges against him
- But Festus was willing to do the Jews a favor:
- So often Justice is not available to those who are honest
- Instead, being offered as favors to those who or “connected” or have something to trade
- Many things work exactly like that today (CACFP, for instance), even here in our Government
- But you can be sure that God abhors such practices
- God commands a just scale and a just measure and forbids the acceptance of gifts by judges
- God is no respecter of persons and exhorts us to the same standard
- So, Festus intended to send Paul to Jerusalem to be “tried” by the Jews
- It is certain however that he would likely never have made it to Jerusalem since they intended to kill him on the way.
- Therefore Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen to appeal to Caesar.
Acts 25:13 NKJV
And after some days King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to greet Festus.
- “certain days”. We don’t know quite how long this was, but it was probably quite some time.
- King Agrippa (the last Herod) had come to visit Festus
- During this time, Festus decided to use this opportunity to “declare Paul’s cause to the King”
- Although we might think of terms like King and Governor to be hierarchical in order of power, they were distinct
- As King (a title under Emperor or Caesar), delegated by Caesar, Herod Agrippa had authority over all of the Jewish and Samaritan people of the area of lands assigned him by Rome.
- He would have had no direct authority over Roman citizens
- Festus was the “governor” who was appointed to represent the Roman affairs there in the area
- He would have had direct command over the soldiers and report directly to Rome.
- They would have Coexisted as Herod and Pontius Pilate did in Jesus’ time. Sometimes as rivals
- Festus apparently had little knowledge of Jewish customs and laws and little understanding of the issues that Paul was being accused of
- On the other hand, Agrippa was quite knowledgeable of the Jewish religion.
- He was known to represent Jewish causes to Rome, and advocate for Jewish matters
- He was quite interested in religious matters
- So it was, Festus consulted him for help in writing the cover letter to send with Paul to Caesar to explain why he was there and what were the accusations.
Acts 25:22–23 NKJV
Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I also would like to hear the man myself.”
“Tomorrow,” he said, “you shall hear him.”
So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus’ command Paul was brought in.
- Agrippa came with his sister, Bernice, and with “great pomp”
- This was a really big deal.
- Might have gotten C-Span or CNN coverage.
- They brought the chief captain and the principal men of the city with them, and then brought Paul in to “hear him”
- Some people refer to his as Paul’s trial before Agrippa, but Paul was not on trial here.
- Since he had already appealed to Caesar, neither Agrippa nor Festus had the authority to judge him.
- Instead, Agrippa wanted to hear Paul’s description of why he was there, in order to write a letter to Caesar to send ahead of him for his appeal
- Since Agrippa understood the Jewish religion (old testament, prophets, customs etc.), he was in a good position to explain the matter to Caesar and would understand the things Paul spoke of.
- Since he was knowledgeable in religious matters, he probably had a great interest in hearing first hand about this Christianity, from someone as famous as Paul, seeing it had so transformed the world by this time.
Acts 26:1–3 NKJV
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.” So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself:
“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,
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.
- Paul opened saying “I think myself happy”
- What a great attitude Paul had
- as Christians, we should have a great attitude
- adversity is no excuse for a bad attitude or a bad witness
- just ask Moses
- He also acknowledged that Agrippa was “expert in all the customs and questions which are among the Jews”
- A little history of Agrippa
- This is actually Agrippa II, also known as Marcus Julias Agrippa. He was the last to have the title “Herod”
- Son of Agrippa I, who was the “Herod” who persecuted the Christians, having James killed and Peter imprisoned.
- This was the second time Peter had been imprisoned and set free by an Angel. The first was when he was imprisoned by the high priests. This was during the reign of Herod Antipas, who was the cousin of Agrippa I
- Herod the great was in power when Jesus was born. He was the one who ordered the killing of infants to try to destroy the Christ
- Shortly after, he died and Archelaus took his place in the south and Antipas in the north. But Archelaus lasted a short time, then Antipas took the title of Herod (the tetrarch)
- This Herod (Antipas) was the one who ruled during the ministry of Jesus and beheaded John the Baptist
- shortly after that, his reign ended, being betrayed by his cousin Agrippa I
- Interestingly, Agrippa I had suffered a great deal of bad fortune and come to Jerusalem broke and in need of help and protection. Antipas took him in and sustained him, helping him get back on his feet. Later he went back to Rome and made friends with Caligula, who would later become Emperor. When that happened he used that friendship to betray his cousin Antipas, and take the title of Herod. Antipas was exiled, and Agrippa was given the title of “king” Herod.
- He continued to grow until he had actually regained all the territory of his grandfather, Herod the Great (perhaps more)
- He is the Herod who had James killed and arrested Peter.
- Shortly after that, he gave a speech and people claimed he was god, when an Angel of the Lord smote him and he died suddenly. Josephus the historian also wrote of this.
- Finally, his son, Agrippa II become the last king Herod. He was 16 when his father died.
- Josephus writes that he was knowledgeable of Jewish laws and that he advocated for the Jews in Romes
- He was known to practice the Jewish customs and was very interested in religious matters.
- Not that he was a pious person. He also was rumored to have an incestuous relationship with his sister, although Josephus denied it. Never married, and had no children.
- So, when Paul mentioned that he was “expert in Jewish customs etc., there was a lot of history to prove it
- He also must have had a great deal of interest in the matter of Christianity given the history of his father, cousin, and grandfather.
Acts 26:4–8 NKJV
“My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know.
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.
And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers.
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.
Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?
- Why should it be thought incredible that God should raise the dead?
- This is a question of faith.
- Do we believe it?
- If we believe that God raises the dead, then the resurrection of Jesus should not be hard to believe
- If we don’
- t believe that God can raise the dead, then we are all without hope. This life and that’s it.
- If we believe that God raised Jesus from the dead, why should we not believe God for everything we need?
Romans 8:32 NKJV
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
- Paul is taking this opportunity to appeal to Agrippa’s faith.
- Agrippa was knowledgeable of religious matters but had not mixed the knowledge with faith
- The bible says that the same word is preached to those who perish as those who believe
- but it must be mixed with faith in those that hear
Acts 26:9–10 NKJV
“Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
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.
- Paul simply shared his testimony with Agrippa
- He had nothing personally to win or lose here since he had already appealed
- on the other hand, he desired to win Agrippa to Jesus
- He was given the opportunity to tell the story, the same story he had been telling all over the world
- This should be a purpose that every Christian keeps always ready to fulfill
- We should all desire earnestly to see the lost come to Jesus
- He that wins souls is wise.
- Jesus gave us a commission
- Whoever leads the sinner to repent has saved a soul from death.
- Yet, so many of us are intimidated by the very thought of attempting to share the gospel
- the idea of preaching a message can be frightening
- what if I get it wrong?
- What if someone challenges me?
- Sharing your own testimony is one of the most powerful ways to share the gospel
- Everyone has a testimony. A story of how you came to faith in Jesus Christ.
- Your testimony is your own. As such, it is irrefutable and not debatable
- It is simply your story, what happened to you, how you got to where you are, to your place of faith.
- There are three main points to an effective testimony. If you know what those points are, you can develop your way of telling the story so that it fits into nearly any time frame.
- So that you can share it in 1 minute, or one hour.
Testimony Part 1
- Paul began by sharing how his life was before
- “I myself did many things contrary to the name of Jesus”
- We may not have all been persecutors of Christians, but we all had a life before our salvation
- for some, it was an addiction or some other type of sinful strongholds
- others were simply lost, without hope or expectation for the future
- others were deceived by false religions
- Some were trusting in their own good works or religion for their salvation
- Whatever your story is, it is yours, and if you are a Christian, there is a story
- While we all have a different story, we all have experienced some kind of change, through coming to a personal faith in Jesus – no one was born a Christian.
- Paul described how that he persecuted Christians, how that he chased them even to far cities
Acts 26:12–18 NKJV
12 “While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me.
14 And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
15 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.
17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you,
18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’
Testimony Part 2
- The second point in our testimony is “what happened” what was the event or situation in your life that brought you to faith in Jesus.
- In Paul’s case, he told the story of how he was on the road to Damascus and the light from heaven came.
- God gave him a new purpose or an understanding of the purpose for which he was created then
- to turn people from the power of satan to the power of God, from darkness to light.
- We were not all brought to our knees by a blinding light, but we all have a story of what brought us to change.
- each of our stories is unique, and therefore, it is interesting
- Your story is interesting
- God has an infinite number of ways to bring us to the knowledge of Himself
Acts 26:19–22 KJV 1900
19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
21 For these causes, the Jews caught me in the temple and went about to kill me.
22 Having, therefore, obtained the help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
Testimony Part 3
- I was not disobedient to the vision
- that is the summary of the whole story
- Paul brings it to the place where they are today. “I continue to this day, witnessing to both small and great”
- This also is something every one of us can do
- most of us are not locked in chains and speaking to the kings,
- but we all have an audience, an opportunity and a story to share.
Acts 26:24–30 KJV 1900
24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.
27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.
30 And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:
Testimony Part 4
- Although there are three points tot he story, there is a fourth point, and that is the response.
- Paul made a point of asking King Agrippa for a response
- Pointing out that these things were not done in a corner, and saying “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets?”
- So often we miss that last point, It is good to let people know that a response is necessary to the hearing of the gospel in order to be saved
- The bible says that not the hearers of the Word are justified, but the doers.
- We must receive Jesus Christ by faith, our own, personal act of faith.
- Agrippa respond “almost, you persuaded me to be a Christian”
- I believe that Agrippa was speaking from sincerity that day – many do not
- I believe that his heart must have been stirred within him as he listened to the story and considered the dramatic transformation in the man Paul]
- considering his testimony in light of the accounts of all his missionary journeys and the many miracles ascribed to him and his followers
- considering the testimony in light of all he had heard of other Christians of his day
- considering the testimony in light of the history his father, and great uncle and grandfather had had, for three generations, in dealing with this Jesus.
- considering the story in the context of the scriptures and prophets that he already knew so well.
- How his heart must have been stirred, perhaps moving between fear, and bewilderment, and hope and anticipation. So much for him to consider. As he “almost” was persuaded to become a Christian
- But he did say “almost”
- How very sad a day for him that was. Not a sadder day perhaps in his life. The day his almost became not at all
- You see if you are almost saved, then you are not saved at all.
- I imagine he must have weighed it out as he sat there that day
- knowing the story was true, the power was real
- but weighing it against all those things in his life that he would have to exchange
- How many changes might he have to make, if Christ were his Lord?
- What would people think?
- What of Caesar, who appointed him?
- What of his friends, who might mock him?
- What of the pleasures of sin?
- Though he was almost persuaded, he chose not to make the trade.
- Don’t let you almost become not at all.
- Don’t let your friends and loved ones miss out on their almost, because you didn’t share your testimony.
- Paul was successful that day. Our part is to tell the story. Success is not determined by their response.
- Be faithful, you have a story to tell.