Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and proceeded to make his defense: 2 “In regard to all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa, that I am about to make my defense before you today; 3 especially because you are an expert in all customs and questions among the Jews; therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently (Acts 26:1-3 NASB).
Agrippa’s father had been zealous for the Jewish Law up to almost the end of his life. So, he would have been much more familiar with Jewish orthodoxy than most in the land, certainly than the Romans.
“So then, all Jews know my manner of life from my youth up, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation and at Jerusalem; 5 since they have known about me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion. 6 And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers; 7 the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day. And for this hope, O King, I am being accused by Jews. 8 Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead? (Acts 26:4-8 NASB).
This “hope of the promise made by God to our fathers” was the Predestined Plan of Salvation through the Jewish Messiah. Israel’s history was one of miracles, so the dead being raised, as remarkable as it is, should not come as a surprise to them.
“So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities (Acts 26:9-11 NASB).
Paul takes his audience, once again, back to the dreadful time of his unbelief in Jesus Messiah.
“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 (Acts 26:12-15 NASB).
Here we are presented for the third time Paul’s testimony of the Damascus road experience.
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’ (Acts 26:16-18 NASB).
“Get up and stand on your feet” is a very similar command to the one given Job many years before:
Gird up now your loins like a man; for I will demand of you, and answer you Me (Job 38:3 KJV).
This is a far cry from all the apostate nonsense church leaders of today are poisoning people with! Today, the false prophets and teachers claim spiritual “encounters” will include God telling women and men alike that “He wants to impregnate them.” There are people laying at the “altar” in “churches” with legs spread wide acting like they are “giving birth” to the “spirit” while others kneel beside them “coaching” them on in their “travail.” These people are given a spiritual platform to promote not only false doctrine but lead in just plain old mental illness and insanity! What have we become?
But we are warned many times in Scripture that these days were coming:
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth (II Tim 3:1-7 ESV).
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep (II Peter 2:1-3 ESV).
“So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. 21 For this reason some Jews seized me in the temple and tried to put me to death. 22 So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; 23 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” (Acts 26:19-23 NASB).
The Testimony of Jesus Messiah and God’s Plan of Salvation through His Son’s Atoning Work was totally in line with Scripture. Nothing Paul taught was outside of “what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place.”
While Paul was saying this in his defense, Festus said in a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad.” 25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I utter words of sober truth. 26 For the king knows about these matters, and I speak to him also with confidence, since I am persuaded that none of these things escape his notice; for this has not been done in a corner (Acts 26:24-26 NASB).
As a pagan, Festus could not understand as Agrippa the great argument that the Atoning Death and Resurrection of the Messiah fulfilled the predictions of the Prophets and were necessary in for the Salvation of sinful men. Though Paul’s words were of “sober truth,” the Roman Governor was blind to the Truth.
King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know that you do.” 28 Agrippa replied to Paul, “In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.” 29 And Paul said, “I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains” (Acts 26:27-29 NASB).
Interestingly, the name “Christian” appears to be one given to Believers in Jesus Messiah by unbelievers. It was not a name they chose for themselves.
The king stood up and the governor and Bernice, and those who were sitting with them, 31 and when they had gone aside, they began talking to one another, saying, “This man is not doing anything worthy of death or imprisonment.” 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar” (Acts 26:30-32 NASB).
Though these unbelieving leaders would not accept the Good News of Salvation delivered to them by the Apostle Paul, a man in chains for the Message he proclaimed, they knew he had done nothing “worthy of death or imprisonment.” But Paul’s appeal to Caesar had already been registered, and, therefore, it had to be carried out according to Roman Law. So, Paul would go to Rome—the very place where the LORD wanted the Apostle to go.
I say the Truth in Christ, I lie no, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my Brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh. Who are Israelites; to whom pertains the Adoption, and the glory, and the Covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and the Promises (Rom 9:1-4 KJV).