Practical Reflections on Acts - Acts 25:26-26:12

Acts 25:26  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 10
26-27. “Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write. For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.”
Here we find the idolatrous world, because of its spiritual darkness, in a quandary as to Paul. Festus had to admit there was no crime with which he could charge the Apostle. Yet even though in spiritual darkness, he recognized that keeping a man prisoner who had committed no crime was unjustifiable. Let us not be quick to judge or to fall into the trap of accepting accusations against others (which may be nothing more than unfounded gossip) until they are allowed to give answer for themselves.
Chapter 26
1-2. “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews.”
How spiritually blind are the “princes of this age” (1 Cor. 2:88Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:8) JND)! King Agrippa little realized that the one he arrogantly permitted to speak for himself was a “chosen vessel” of the Lord Jesus selected by Him to be “a minister, according to the dispensation of God... to fulfill the word of God” (Col. 1:2525Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; (Colossians 1:25)).
Yet, in lovely humility, the beloved Apostle, who walked in communion with God and had a clear conscience, could think himself happy when called to answer false charges that might mean his death. May we never fear the consequences of living faithfully for Christ in this world, always being ready to give an answer concerning our faith (1 Peter 3:1515But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15)).
3. “Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.”
Paul was not using vain flattery to gain the goodwill of King Agrippa. The king, being from the line of the Herods, was indeed well acquainted with Jewish religious customs, though he used them, not for the purpose of honoring God, but to gain political favor with the Jews. Similarly there is a danger that the precious truths of God graciously given to us, if not walked in, may become spiritually nothing more than customs or questions. The joy and delight of our hearts ought to be “as the truth is in Jesus,” practically (and in love) forming and guiding our daily walk.
4. “My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews.”
What a happy thing if we can speak with some assurance (though never with pride) that the example of our lives (including children and young people) commends us to those who are our enemies for Christ’s sake (Titus 2:7-87In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, 8Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. (Titus 2:7‑8)). How important to live openly and without guile in this dark world.
5. “Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.”
Paul said “if they would testify,” but these blinded religious leaders who knew he spoke the truth were purposely silent. Yet the law of Moses, of which they were so proud, warned against false witness (Ex. 20:1616Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. (Exodus 20:16)). It is possible for believers, if walking after the flesh, to act in this shameful way too. Ephesus had received the highest Christian truth, yet the believers were warned to put “away lying” and “speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another” (Eph. 4:2525Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another. (Ephesians 4:25)).
6-7. “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.”
Paul’s heart embraced all twelve tribes his love going beyond Judah and Jerusalem encompassed the whole nation of Israel even though the Jews hated the truth and its minister. Does our heart in love desire blessing for the whole church the assembly that Christ loved and gave Himself for?
8. “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?”
Jesus, the One who told the Jews that “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living,” was now Himself risen from the dead and glorified at the Father’s right hand (1 Cor. 15:1818Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. (1 Corinthians 15:18); Mark 16:1919So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. (Mark 16:19)). The Lord Jesus also has assured us that “because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:1919Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. (John 14:19)). To faith, resurrection life is a wonderful, assured reality, but to the unbelieving mind it seems an incredible impossibility.
9. “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.”
The mind, no matter how religious or intelligent, when reasoning according to the flesh rather than by faith as guided by the Spirit, always leads to doing “things contrary to the name of Jesus” (Acts 26:99I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. (Acts 26:9)).
10-11. “Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.”
“Shut up,” “put to death,” “punished them,” “compelled them to blaspheme,” “persecuted them”—what awful fruit from man’s religious efforts! May our lives produce the “fruit of the Spirit.”
12. “Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests.”
How different the “power” (JND) given by those spiritually blind religious leaders from that divine power given by the Lord Jesus from glory with a light that blinded Saul’s natural sight. Natural sight can never view the glory where He dwells, nor can it give the power needed to walk in its light by faith. “When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only” (Matt. 17:88And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. (Matthew 17:8)).