Scripture Study: Acts 26

Acts 26  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, “Thou art permitted to speak for thyself.” Paul answers with perfect freedom and dignity, and as one now in communion with God. He tells the story of his life and conversion from Judaism to Christ; his zeal for the law, and as a Pharisee, and the promise of God of One to come, and be raised from the dead.
“Why should it be a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” Here he connects the teachings of Christ, with the hopes of the Jews.
He had thought that he ought to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth, and this he did with all the energy of his character as a devout Jew, giving his voice against them, to put the disciples of Jesus to death, and compelling them to blaspheme that dear name by which they were called. And being exceedingly mad against them, persecuted them, even unto strange cities. It was while in this occupation that the Lord met him on the way to Damascus with authority and commission by the chief priests.
Verse 13. “At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?’ And I said, ‘Who art Thou, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest; but rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee: delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.’ Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. Having, therefore, obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: That Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”
Thus he showed his change, and his path had been marked out by the Lord Himself. He was called to tell of the glory he had seen, and to give evidence that Jesus was in the glory, and that his commission came from Jesus in that glory, who called him in separation from both Jews and Gentiles, to send him to them with His message, that, if received, would change their position; also, would open their eyes, and bring them out of darkness into light, from the power of Satan unto God, giving them an inheritance among the sanctified. This simple history put the case of Paul, and the conduct of the Jews, in the clearest light.
To Festus, this was but an excitement of the mind, and he says, “Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.” But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness; for the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely, for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.” Then he appeals to King Agrippa with such dignity and assurance of his knowledge of the facts of the ease, that the king does not say, “It is not true,” but rather turns the appeal into lightness, to hide his own feelings, but his heart was unchanged, and so he says, as it were, “You’ll soon be making a Christian of me.”
How blessedly the Apostle has recovered his spiritual state! We see in him here a heart filled with the Spirit, and the love of God. His imprisonment for two years has wrought good in his soul; has set him free from Jewish connections, and brought him into the mind of God. His answer to Agrippa shows it. He said, “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.” What happiness and love are told out in these words! A prisoner, but how rich in his spirit, his heart filled with compassion for his judges, and well he might be happy, for he knew his possessions were in Christ, and all things in Him. He was now serving the Lord, and witnessing for Him in the power and liberty of an ungrieved Spirit.
His judges heard and considered his case. “This man doeth nothing worthy of death, or of bonds.” “This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.” But the Lord had spoken to His servant (Chap. 23:11), “Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” So to Rome he must go, and if sent there unjustly, yet the Lord is with him every step of the way. And all the discipline he passes through, is measured by the One who loved him, and bought him with His blood, and called him by His grace to this path of testimony and suffering. Paul realized it when he wrote: “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake, which is the church.” Colossians 1:2424Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church: (Colossians 1:24). Devoted servant he was, but compelled by grace into his path. At the same time, if we compare him with the Lord, blessed as he is, he grows dim, and is eclipsed before Christ, so that we could no longer think of Paul, but of Him who was perfect, the perfect subject of the testimony itself.