Acts 26: I am sending you to open their eyes…

Paul is allowed to speak for himself in front of King Agrippa.

Paul acknowledges Agrippa’s intimate knowledge of Jewish affairs and tells of his own early life as a member of Judaism’s strictest sect, the Pharisees.  This group has believed in resurrection and thus should not have been shocked when God raised Jesus.  But, like others, Paul at first reacted by persecuting the church.

9 “I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.

He tells of Jesus’ appearance to him on the road to Damascus, and of his commission to witness to the Gentiles.

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 and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to 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.

Then Paul makes a direct appeal to Agrippa.  All Paul has said is just what Moses and the Prophets foretold would happen.

19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.

22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”

All this seems like utter madness to the Roman Festus.

24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”  25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable.

Agrippa puts Paul off.

28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

At this, the king and Festus leave.  Whatever Paul’s beliefs, there is nothing in them that deserves death or imprisonment under Roman law.

30 The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them. 31 After they left the room, they began saying to one another, “This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.”

What if there was no Paul?  We would still have the four books of gospel.  But we would not have other important parts of the Scripture — Acts, Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, and Philippians etc.

Paul’s dramatic conversion by Jesus himself shows how our Lord has provided another strong reinforcement for our faith.



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