Wednesday: Paul’s Defense

With the scene set and the royal guests seated alongside the governor, the prisoner was brought in to present his defense, which was aimed primarily at Agrippa, as Festus had already heard it before (Acts 25:8-11).

Read Acts 26:1-23. What was Paul doing in his speech before Agrippa?

Paul's Defense

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Paul’s speech was in fact an autobiographical report of his life both before and after his conversion. In terms of content, it recalls the one in Acts 22:1-21, which he spoke before the crowd in Jerusalem.

The apostle began by trying to secure Agrippa’s favor. He acknowledged his gratitude for the opportunity to state his case before such an eminent person, all the more so because Agrippa was well acquainted with all the customs and issues related to Jewish religion. For that reason, Agrippa could be of great assistance in helping the Roman governor understand that the charges brought against him had no merit and were false.

The speech can be divided into three parts. In part one (Acts 26:4-11), Paul described his former Pharisaic piety, which was widely known among his contemporaries in Jerusalem. As a Pharisee, he believed in the resurrection of the dead, which was essential to the fulfilment of Israel’s ancestral hope. The Jews, therefore, were being inconsistent in opposing his teaching, for there was nothing in it that was not fundamentally Jewish. But he understood their attitude quite well, and that was because he himself had once found it so incredible that God could have raised Jesus that even he persecuted those who believed that way.

In part two (Acts 26:12-18), Paul reported how his perspective had changed since his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus and the call that he received to take the gospel message to the Gentiles.

Paul says, finally, that the impact of what he had seen (Acts 26:19-23) was such that he had no choice but to obey and to carry out his missionary activity, the only reason that he was now on trial. The real issue behind his arrest, therefore, was not that he had violated the Jewish law or desecrated the temple. Rather, it was because of his message of Jesus’ death and resurrection, which was in full harmony with the Scriptures and allowed believing Gentiles to have an equal share in salvation.

Read Acts 26:18. According to that text, what happens to those who have salvation in Christ? How have you experienced this reality?

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons