Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Acts, Chapter 26

In chapter 26 Paul must face his greatest shame while also proclaiming his greatest victory. Often times these two are related in our lives as our greatest victory comes from overcoming that great shame. In order to document his defense Paul had to tell of his background as a Jew to illustrate that he was familiar with their customs. As a Pharisee he was more than familiar, as he was responsible for maintaining the law. This point is also important because it shows that he was not some random nutjob that just started speaking out against the Jews. He had authority in the Jewish community and he was a literal convert from their ways.

9"I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them. – Acts 26:9-11

This is Paul's greatest shame, but he must revisit it in order to show that it is exactly what the Jews were trying to do to him after his conversion. Surely this was painful, as since his conversion Paul had come to love Jesus like none before him. Paul had been just as zealous as those who were persecuting him, and in fact he probably had many colleagues on the other side of the room in this trial. He surely knew their motives.

15"Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' " 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied. 16'Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. 17I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18to open their eyes and turn them 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.' – Acts 26:15-18

We see following these verses that King Agrippa, who was presiding over the trial, was familiar with Jewish customs. This part of Paul's testimony is so dramatic that he is left with no choice but to follow Christ. He is painting the picture that if those accusing him had faced the same scenario, they too would have been changed by Christ. Personally, if God had pulled back the clouds and spoken to me this dramatically I would have had a difficult time ignoring him.

28Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?" 29Paul replied, "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." – Acts 26:28-29

This is my honest prayer for anyone who comes across this blog, as I am not the one that can change hearts or minds. Paul is so straightforward and without fear here that I cannot help but look to him as a role model to my own faith. Paul lived only to proclaim the gospel, and that is something we need to carry over to our own lives. At the same time he knew that he could accomplish nothing without Christ. Without Christ his ravings here would have come off as the nonsensical ravings of a madman. Indeed Festus thought he was insane, but Paul had to defend himself even from that charge. King Agrippa, being familiar with the Jewish customs, knew that his claims had weight because he had believed in the prophets. This knowledge helped Paul's case as it freed him from the Jews, but he still had to go to Rome and face Caesar.


  1. What was the Jews' case against Paul and why did they not get to speak at this time?
  2. Why wouldn't Jesus appear before the Pharisees and convert them to remove all opposition?
  3. What effect do you think Paul's words had on the crowd?


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