Keith Hunt - Bible Story, NT - Chapter Seventy-nine: Acts 24-26 - Paul before King Agrippa   Restitution of All Things
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Chapter Seventy-nine:

Acts 24-26 - Paul before King Agrippa


                          ACTS #33

                   ACTS CHAPTERS 24 to 26


CHAPTER 24

     Felix the governor would hear the case against Paul when his
accusers arrived. Till then Paul was imprisoned at Herod's
headquarters. 
     Five days later Ananias, the High Priest arrived with some
of the Jewish elders and an orator, by the name of Tertullus, to
press charges against Paul. They stated to Felix (through the
orator they had with them):

          "Your Excellency, you have given much peace to the Jews
and have enacted reforms for us, to have this peace. For that we
are most grateful to you (during that time in the first century
the Roman government gave the Jews all the freedom they needed to
practice their religious faith). But not to bore you, please give
me your attention for a short time, as I outline our case against
this man Paul. We have found him to be a trouble maker, a man who
is constantly inciting the Jews throughout the Roman world, to
riots and rebellions against the Roman government. He is a
ringleader of a sect known as the Nazarenes. Further more he was
trying to defile the Temple when we arrested him (Some
manuscripts of the New Testament add; 'We would have judged him
by our law, but Lysias, the commander of the garrison, came and
took him violently away from us, commanding his accusers to come
before you.'). You can find this truth of our accusations by
examining him yourself"
     Then the other Jews spoke up and said all that Tertullus
said was true (verses 1-9).

     Now Paul was given a turn to speak. The governor motioned to
him to stand up and speak.  Paul said:

     "I know, sir, that you have been a judge of Jewish affairs
     for many years, and so this indeed gives me confidence as I
     speak to you in my defense. You can soon discover that it
     was no more than twelve days ago that I arrived in Jerusalem
     to worship at the Temple. I did not argue with anyone in the
     Temple, nor did I incite a riot in any synagogue, or on the
     streets of the city. These men from Jerusalem cannot prove
     anything that they accuse me of doing. But I do admit that I
     follow THE WAY, which they call a sect. I worship the God of
     our ancestors, and I firmly believe all the words written in
     the prophets in God's Scriptures given to us Jews. I have
     hope in God, just like these men do, that He will raise both
     the righteous and the ungodly. Because of this, I always try
     to maintain a clear conscience before God and before
     everyone else. After several years away, I returned to
     Jerusalem with money and goods to aid my people and to offer
     sacrifices to God. My accusers saw me in the Temple as I was
     completing a purification ritual. There was no crowd around
     me and there was no rioting. But some Jews from the province
     of Asia were there  - and they really should be here to
     bring charges against me if they have anything to charge me
     with. Ask these Jews here what wrongdoing the Jewish
     Sanhedrin court found in me, except for one thing I said
     when I shouted out, 'I am on trial before you today because
     I believe in the RESURRECTION of the DEAD'" (verses 10-21).

     Felix, who was actually quite familiar with THE WAY (though
we are not told by Luke how he was familiar with the group
following and teaching the about the Lord Jesus), adjourned the
hearing and said, "Wait until Lysias, the garrison commander
arrives, then I will decide the case." He ordered an officer to
keep Paul in custody but to give him some freedom and allow his
friends to visit him and take care of his needs (verses 22-23).

     A few days later Felix came with his wife, Drusilla, who was
Jewish. Sending for Paul, they listened as he told them about
faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul reasoned with them about
righteousness and self-control and the judgment to come, Felix
became quite upset and fearful. "Go away for now Paul, when it is
more convenient, I'll call for you again," said Felix.
     Felix was also hoping Paul would try to bribe him and buy
his freedom, so he sent for him on a regular basis and talked
with him. Two years went by in this way, Paul coming before
Felix, but then Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. As Felix
wanted to gain favor with the Jewish leaders, he left Paul in
custody, a type of imprisonment, until Festus arrived to take
over from him (verses 22-27).

CHAPTER 25

     Three days after Festus arrived in Caesarea to take over his
duties from Felix, he left for Jerusalem, where the leading
Jewish priests and elders met with him and made their accusations
once more against Paul. They asked Festus to do them a favor and
transfer Paul back to Jerusalem (they actually had planned to
way-lay Paul on his way back and kill him). But Festus replied
that  Paul was at Caesarea and he would be returning there
himself soon. So he told them, "Those of you in authority can
return with me. If Paul has done anything wrong, you can make
your case against him" (verses 1-5).

     It was about eight or ten days later that Festus did return
to Caesarea, and on the day after he arrived back, Paul's trial
began. When Paul was in court, the Jewish leaders from Jerusalem
made all kinds of serious accusations against Paul, which they
simply could not prove. 
     Paul denied all the charges, and said, "I am not guilty. I
have committed no crime against the Jewish law or the Temple or
the Roman government."
     Then Festus, who wanted to try and please the Jews, asked
Paul, "Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial before
me there?"
     Paul replied, "No! I am not! This is an official Roman
court, so I ought to be tried right here. You know very well that
I am not guilty. If I have done something worthy of death, I will
not refuse to die. But if I am innocent, neither you or anyone
else has the right to turn me over to these men to kill me. I
appeal to Caesar!"
     Festus then conferred with his advisers and then replied,
"Very well then Paul. you have appealed to caesar, and to Caesar
you shall be sent" (verses 6-12)

     It was a few days later that king Agrippa arrived with 
Bernice, to pay their tribute to Festus. During their stay of
several days Festus discussed Paul's case with the king. "There
is a prisoner here," he told him, "whose case was left for me by
Felix. When I was in Jerusalem, the leading priests and other
Jewish leaders accused him of many evils and wanted me to
sentence him. Of course I quickly pointed out to them that Roman
law does not convict people without a trial. They are given an
opportunity to defend themselves face to face with their
accusers. When they came here for the trial, I called the case
the very next day and ordered Paul to be brought in. But the
accusation made against him were not the accusations I expected
at all. It was all about their religion and some fellow named
Jesus, who died, but whom Paul insists is alive. I was perplexed
as to how to conduct an investigation of this kind, and I asked
him if he would be willing to stand trial in Jerusalem. But Paul
appealed to the Emperor. So I ordered him back to jail until I
could arrange to send him to Caesar."

     Agrippa was by now very curious about the whole situation
and about this man called Paul and the man he preached about
called Jesus. "I'd like to hear this man Paul," Agrippa said to
Festus. "Very well then, you certain shall. I will have him
brought to us tomorrow," was Festus' reply (verses 13-22).

PAUL SPEAKS TO AGRIPPA

     The next day Agrippa and Bernice arrived at the auditorium
with great pomp, accompanied by military officers and prominent
men of the city. Festus ordered Paul to be brought in. Then
Festus said, "King Agrippa and all present, this is the man whose
death is demanded both by the local Jews and by those in
Jerusalem. But in my opinion he has done nothing worthy of death.
However he has appealed his case to the Emperor and I have
decided to send him. But what shall I write to the Emperor? for
there is no real charge against him. So I have brought him before
you all, and especially before you king Agrippa, so that after we
have heard from him, I might have something to write. For it does
not seem reasonable to send a prisoner to the Emperor without
specifying the charges against him" (verses 23-27).

CHAPTER 26

     Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You may speak now in your
defense."

     So Paul, with a gesture of his hand started his defence:

     "I am fortunate, King Agrippa, that you are the one hearing
     my defense against all these accusations made by the Jewish
     leaders, for I know you are an expert on Jewish customs and
     controversies. Now I ask that you listen to me patiently. As
     the Jewish leaders are aware, I was given a thorough Jewish
     training from my earliest childhood among my own people and
     in Jerusalem. If they would admit it, they know I have been
     a member of the strict Pharisees sect of our religion. Now I
     am on trial because I look forward to the fulfillment of
     God's promises made to our ancestors. In fact that is why
     the twelve tribes of Israel worship god night and day, for
     they share the same hope I have. Yet, king, they say it is
     wrong for me to have this hope! Why should it seem
     incredible to any of you that God should raise the dead? 
     I once believed that I should do everything I could to
     oppose the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Authorized by the
     leading priests, I caused many of the believers in Jerusalem
     to be sent ot prison.
     And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to
     death.
     Many times I had them whipped in the synagogues to try to
     get them to curse this Christ man they believed in and
     preached. I was so violently opposed to them that I even
     hounded them in distant cities of foreign lands.
     One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with
     authority and commission from the leading priests. It was
     about noon time, your Majesty, and a light from heaven
     brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. We
     all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in
     Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard
     to fight against my will.' 'Who are you, sir,' I asked. And
     the Lord replied, 'I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.
     Now stand up! For I have come to you to appoint you as
     my servant and my witness. You are to tell the world about
     this experience and about other times I will appear yo you.
     And I will protect you from both your own people and the
     Gentiles. Yes, I am going to send you to the Gentiles, to
     open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to the
     light, and from the power of satan to God. Then they will
     receive the forgiveness for their sins and be given a place
     among God's people, who are sent apart by faith in
     me.'
     And so, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to that
     vision from heaven. I preached first to those in Damascus,
     then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the
     Gentiles, that all must turn from their sins and turn back
     to God - and prove they have changed by the good things they
     do. 
     Some of the Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching
     this and they even tried to kill me. But God has protected
     me so that I am still alive today to tell these facts to
     everyone from the least to the greatest. 
     I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said
     would come to pass - that the Messiah would suffer and be
     the very first to rise from the dead, as a light to the Jews
     and to the Gentiles, alike" (verses 1-23).

     When Paul said Jesus was the first to rise from the dead, he
was meaning that Jesus was the first human to ever gain eternal
life in glorious immortality. Not one other human as ever be
raised or given immortal like. No not Enoch, not Moses, not
Elijah, not any other human. That is made clear in Hebrews 11,
where we are told that all of God's children from the beginning
have died, and they without us will not be made perfect, or given
immortal glorious perfect life. Jesus, Paul said in his writings,
has PREEMINENCE in ALL things, and one of those all things, is
the first human to gain everlasting immortal life.

     It was at this point in Paul's speech that Festus shouted
out with anger, "Paul, you are insane! Too much study has made
you a crazy man!"
     But Paul replied, "No, I am not insane, Most Excellent
Festus, I am speaking the truth soberly. And King agrippa knows
about these things. I speak frankly, for I am sure all these
events are familiar to him, for they were not done in a secret
corner! King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that
you do...."
     King Agrippa interrupted Paul, "Do you think you can make me
a Christian so quickly? A little more of your arguments and you
would probably make me a Christian I think."
     Paul cried out at these words form Agrippa, "Whether quickly
or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this
audience might become the same as I except with no chains, as I
have at this time."
     
     Then the king, the governor, Bernice, and all the others
stood and left. As they talked it over they agreed, "This man has
not done anything worthy of death or imprisonment." 
     And it was Agrippa who said, "He could be set free if he had
not appealed to Ceasar" (verse 24-32).

                      .................

Written November 2004
     

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