Acts Challenge Day 26
Read Acts 26 and then answer the questions afterwards…
Paul Defends Himself before Agrippa
26 Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and began to defend himself:
2 “I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 because you are especially familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews; therefore I beg of you to listen to me patiently.
4 “All the Jews know my way of life from my youth, a life spent from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem. 5 They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I have belonged to the strictest sect of our religion and lived as a Pharisee. 6 And now I stand here on trial on account of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors, 7 a promise that our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship day and night. It is for this hope, your Excellency,[a] that I am accused by Jews! 8 Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
9 “Indeed, I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things against the name of Jesus of Nazareth.[b] 10 And that is what I did in Jerusalem; with authority received from the chief priests, I not only locked up many of the saints in prison, but I also cast my vote against them when they were being condemned to death. 11 By punishing them often in all the synagogues I tried to force them to blaspheme; and since I was so furiously enraged at them, I pursued them even to foreign cities.
Paul Tells of His Conversion
12 “With this in mind, I was traveling to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, 13 when at midday along the road, your Excellency,[c] I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and my companions. 14 When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew[d] language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It hurts you to kick against the goads.’ 15 I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The Lord answered, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But get up and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and testify to the things in which you have seen me[e] and to those in which I will appear to you. 17 I will rescue you from your 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 power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
Paul Tells of His Preaching
19 “After that, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout the countryside of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God and do deeds consistent with repentance. 21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 To this day I have had help from God, and so I stand here, testifying to both small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would take place: 23 that the Messiah[f] 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.”
Paul Appeals to Agrippa to Believe
24 While he was making this defense, Festus exclaimed, “You are out of your mind, Paul! Too much learning is driving you insane!” 25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking the sober truth. 26 Indeed the king knows about these things, and to him I speak freely; for I am certain that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” 28 Agrippa said to Paul, “Are you so quickly persuading me to become a Christian?”[g] 29 Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that not only you but also all who are listening to me today might become such as I am—except for these chains.”
30 Then the king got up, and with him the governor and Bernice and those who had been seated with them; 31 and as they were leaving, they said to one another, “This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.” 32 Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to the emperor.”
Questions to Consider:
1) What’s happened to Peter? This is the third time we have heard Paul’s conversion story. He shares it with Agrippa and connects all he is doing to the Hebrew scriptures and the promises made there. If you remember in Acts 10 we hear Peter’s conversion story as the gospel is opened to the Gentiles, but it is Paul who acts on that in ways that changes the world. Why do you think Paul was so well equipped to share this message to the Gentiles? What happened to Peter in relation to sharing with the Gentiles? (Read Galatians 2)
2) Agrippa is shocked that Paul is seeking to convert him to Christ as well. Paul says that is exactly what he hopes for. Are you afraid to talk of your faith with those who you think may be hostile?
3) Agrippa concludes that Paul has done nothing wrong, but because he appealed to the emperor he needs to be sent to Rome. In many ways this is driving toward the vision of Jesus that his disciples would be his witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to the utmost parts of the Earth. Rome had prepared the world for the gospel as Roman roads went out from Rome to the known world. Paul is taking the gospel to the center of that world. It will end up in St. Croix from the pathways forged by Paul. How do you celebrate the gospel going out from this church on the hill throughout the island of St. Croix and to the utmost parts of the world?