Episode #115. Today we’ll read Acts chapter 26 together. Paul gives a defense before Agrippa and passionately recounts his testimony for Festus, Agrippa, Bernice and everyone in that room.
Joy: You’re listening to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Episode #115. Today we’ll read Acts chapter 26 together: Paul gives a defense before Agrippa and passionately recounts his testimony for Festus, Agrippa, Bernice and everyone in that room.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast. I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me as we simply read God’s word together. Some things require discipline and sometimes that’s just not easy to muster by yourself, no matter how badly you want to do it or how much you know you should. It’s just easier to do it with a friend. So refill your coffee or tea, get comfortable in your favorite chair and follow along as I read aloud. I’m so glad you’re here!
It occurs to me that I really need to re-do the intro of the podcast! As we begin to venture out and are called back to work, our Bible reading may not be done while we’re curled up in our favorite chair! It may very well be done – at least on some days – while rush-hour traffic brings us to halt on our morning commute. And coffee or tea may be in travel mug instead of your preferred cup. Do me a favor and just listen on those days…don’t try to follow along in your Bible or takes notes. Remember our podcast verses in Isaiah 55: the Word that God sends out will not return to Him empty or without accomplishing His purpose.
Whether you read, read and listen, or just listen, you will still know God better, you will still be prepared to share something you learned, and you will be equipped to encourage someone who needs it…it’s all good.
Acts Chapter 26:
Paul’s Defense before Agrippa
Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.”
Then Paul stretched out his hand and began his defense: “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, especially since you are very knowledgeable about all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.
“All the Jews know my way of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem. They have known me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived as a Pharisee.
And now I stand on trial because of the hope in what God promised to our ancestors, the promise our twelve tribes hope to reach as they earnestly serve him night and day. King Agrippa, I am being accused by the Jews because of this hope. Why do any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead? In fact, I myself was convinced that it was necessary to do many things in opposition to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. I actually did this in Jerusalem, and I locked up many of the saints in prison, since I had received authority for that from the chief priests. When they were put to death, I was in agreement against them. In all the synagogues I often punished them and tried to make them blaspheme. Since I was terribly enraged at them, I pursued them even to foreign cities.
Paul’s Account of His Conversion and Commission
“I was traveling to Damascus under these circumstances with authority and a commission from the chief priests. King Agrippa, while on the road at midday, I saw a light from heaven brighter than the sun, shining around me and those traveling with me. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice speaking to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
“I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet. For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
To Our People and to the Gentiles
“So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. Instead, I preached to those in Damascus first, and to those in Jerusalem and in all the region of Judea, and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works worthy of repentance. For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and were trying to kill me. To this very day, I have had help from God, and I stand and testify to both small and great, saying nothing other than what the prophets and Moses said would take place — that the Messiah would suffer, and that, as the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light to our people and to the Gentiles.”
Agrippa Not Quite Persuaded
As he was saying these things in his defense, Festus exclaimed in a loud voice, “You’re out of your mind, Paul! Too much study is driving you mad.”
But Paul replied, “I’m not out of my mind, most excellent Festus. On the contrary, I’m speaking words of truth and good judgment. For the king knows about these matters, and I can speak boldly to him. For I am convinced that none of these things has escaped his notice, since this was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you believe.”
Agrippa said to Paul, “Are you going to persuade me to become a Christian so easily?”
“I wish before God,” replied Paul, “that whether easily or with difficulty, not only you but all who listen to me today might become as I am — except for these chains.”
The king, the governor, Bernice, and those sitting with them got up, and when they had left they talked with each other and said, “This man is not doing anything to deserve death or imprisonment.”
Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar.”
I love reading this chapter. Especially when Paul gives his testimony. Remember how we talked about writing our stories down and being ready to give a reason for the hope we have? Do you remember the order that I suggested to you? This is exactly what Paul does! He describes what his life was like before he met Christ. Then he gives the details of the circumstances that brought him to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and to invite Him into his life. And then he tells of what his new life in Christ looks like…how he is different. It’s perfect!
Of course, it’s a little funny when Festus says that Paul is out of his mind. How many times has a non-believer in your life, if not blurting it out like Festus did, at least questioned how you can believe that Jesus Christ is the risen Son of God sent to save the world from God’s judgement of sin? Finally, in the aftermath, they all agree that Paul would have been released had it not been for the fact that he had appealed to Caesar. But they’re not as in charge as they think, huh? Paul had a higher calling that they knew nothing of. Paul had to get to Rome.
Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, help us to get as good at giving our individual testimonies as Paul was at giving his. Help us to remember that most people come to church because someone personally invited them. And help us to remember that our best witnessing tool is our own story. Amen.
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray God will grow in you what has been planted and watered here. In this time of unprecedented struggle worldwide, we can look to God for guidance and comfort. Be sensitive to those in your circle of influence who need a word of encouragement and invite them to join us. If you like this show, it would be great if you give it a five-star review. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you right here tomorrow. Be well!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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