Just to recap what we have seen so far on Paul’s final trip to Jerusalem. We have seen him wrongly accused of being a troublemaker. We have seen him wrongly accused of promoting sedition. We have seen him wrongly accused of attempting to desecrate the Temple in Jerusalem. And it is for these false charges that Paul is being held, illegally, by the Roman officials of the province of Judea. We have, also, see Paul brought before two Roman Governors, who both thought that there was no basis for holding him. And finally today we are going to see the conclusion of Paul’s last trial before local Judean officials.
At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”—26:24
The reason for Festus’s outburst is unstated. Perhaps he had heard enough to make a judgment that Paul was a harmless religious eccentric. However, it does come on the heels of Paul’s statement about the Messiah’s suffering and resurrection. Paul’s words (from Acts 26:22-23) would be an example of the Gospel being foolishness to Gentiles (1 Corinthians 1:23). It is also possible that Festus was under deep conviction. Sadly, within three years, Festus would die suddenly and stand before a holy God, having heard the Gospel plainly from the Apostle Paul and have taken no action.
“I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”
The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them. After they left the room, they began saying to one another, “This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.”
Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”—26:25-32
Paul affirmed his words were true and rational, things that would resonate with Greco-Roman intellectuals. His call on Agrippa was not just a call for support but a call for the king to make a faith affirmation. The king seemed to recognize the move. Agrippa asked if Paul intended, in this brief encounter, to make him a Christian. And Paul’s response was that, whether by great or small efforts, he wanted the king to give his life to Christ. The king rose, signifying the end of the hearing. All agreed that Paul had done nothing worthy of the death penalty and could be set free, except for his appeal to Caesar. This was no surprise to Paul and was the plan of Christ all along. And that is where we will pick up tomorrow as we see Paul finally set for Rome.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
Job 34-36, 2 Corinthians 4:1-12, Psalm 44:1-8 and Proverbs 22:10-12
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