Thursday: Paul Before the Leaders

Although Paul was speaking to Agrippa, Festus was the first to react, as seen in Acts 26:24. Festus would have had no problem if Paul had spoken about the immortality of the soul, but even the ancient Greco-Romans knew that both concepts—immortality and resurrection—do not go along well with one other. Thus, they kept the former and rejected the latter. This is why Paul says elsewhere that the gospel was foolishness to Gentiles (1 Cor. 1:23).

Before Festus

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In a respectful manner, Paul defended the sanity of his ideas and turned to Agrippa, a Jew who could not only understand him but also who could confirm that what he was saying was in agreement with the Hebrew prophets (Acts 26:25-26).

Read Acts 26:27-28. What was Agrippa’s response to Paul’s pressing question?

Paul’s question put Agrippa in a difficult position. As a Jew, he would never deny his belief in the Scriptures; on the other hand, if he gave an affirmative answer, there would be no option but for him to accept Jesus as the Messiah. His reply was a clever escape from the logical trap he was in: “Are you so quickly persuading me to become a Christian?“ (Acts 26:28, NRSV; compare with ESV, NIV)—this is a better translation of the Greek than the traditional, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian“ (NKJV).

Paul’s rejoinder reveals an impressive level of commitment to the gospel: “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that not only you but also all who are listening to me today might become such as I am—except for these chains“ (Acts 26:29, NRSV). In his last words in that hearing, the apostle did not plead to be free, free as were those listening to him. Instead, he wished they could be like him, except for the chains on his arms. Paul’s missionary zeal greatly surpassed his care for his own safety.

Read Acts 26:30-32. How did Agrippa express his conviction of Paul’s innocence?

Festus needed Agrippa’s help only to fill in the report (Acts 25:25-27). Paul’s appeal to Caesar had already been formally granted (Acts 25:12). The prisoner was no longer under the governor’s jurisdiction.

Read Acts 26:24-28. What did Paul ultimately appeal to, and what should this tell us about what our final authority in matters of faith should always be?

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Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons