26 So Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defence:
2 “I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.
4 “My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. 5 They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. 6 And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, 7 to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! 8 Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
9 “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.
Paul Tells of His Conversion
12 “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 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 place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. 21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”
24 And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” 25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. 26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” 28 And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” 29 And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”
30 Then the king rose, and the governor and Bernice and those who were sitting with them. 31 And when they had withdrawn, they said to one another, “This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.” 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Verse 19: After Paul shared his testimony of being called in Damascus; he claimed, with no shame that all of his acts were so that he “was not disobedient to the heavenly vision”. This had, indeed, always been Paul’s goal and direction for the rest of his life. — For me, as a saved believer, there must also be a calling and vision from the Lord. Do we also have a clear knowledge as to what this heavenly vision is? And are we living in an obedience or disobedience to it?
- Verse 22a: Paul had suffered many persecutions as he lived his life for the Lord. Nevertheless, he still stood there and testified the truth, regardless of the possibility of his life being taken away— Are we willing to suffer and be persecuted for the Lord like Paul?
- Verse 22b: Moreover, Paul knew that him standing there to testify, was not through his own strength, but rather God willed it to happen and was helping him. He did not boast on his own behalf; instead, he gave all the Glory to God. As he followed the Lord, he was experiencing man’s weakness but with God’s strength, so it was clear that it was the Lord who saved him; God strengthened his faith, and upheld him by His power and grace. – When we experience spiritual victory, do we boast about what we did? Or do we say “I have had the help that comes from God”?
- Verses 25-26: When Paul testified to Festus, he spoke “true and rational words”, and what he testified about had “not been done in a corner”. Paul was honest, as he showed us that a true witness for Christ is a person who walks in the light with God. People of such a kind should be known to everyone, and to set a good example for the sake of Christ. Do we testify to others about God? Do we also walk in the light with God?
PRAYING IN FAITH
Father God, I thank You for calling me to be your child and to be part of your people and I thank You for Your good and acceptable and perfect thoughts towards me. Please help me to understand your mind and will, and to be obedient to the heavenly vision You show to me. I pray for my family who have believed, please strengthen their hearts and faith, so that they can stand still on the way to following You. I also pray for my family who haven’t believed, please show your mercy and grace upon them, open their eyes, destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of You. Please soften their hearts, so that the seeds of Gospel will fall into the good soil and find growth. I also pray for our church, please keep us unified in You, so that we shall have one mind to follow and serve You. Please help us in whatever trials, thus we stand still in Your power and grace. Also help us walk in the light with You, and we can testify boldly to people. In Jesus Name, Amen.