Sunday, November 15, 2020

Acts Study | Session 40 | 28:1-31

In today's final study of the book of Acts, we find Paul making his defense before the Jews in Rome and being asked to clarify what he thought of this sect that is spoken against everywhere. Paul proceeds to explain that Jesus was the hope of Israel and they listened until he quoted from Isaiah 6 about how the Jewish nation would not see, hear, or understand and that God sent salvation to the Gentiles without them.

Chapter 28

VERSE 1: And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. Today this island is known as Malta which was inhabited by Phoenicians. Interestingly, the name in Phoenician means refuge. 

VERSE 2: And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. The word barbarous was a word that was used by the Greeks of anyone that did not speak their language. It didn't mean, like it does today, savage, uncultivated, or cruel. It just spoke of unintelligible language. 

VERSES 3-4: And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. (4) And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. You can only imagine that the people on the island knew after a brief minute that the passengers of this ship consisted of guards and prisoners. They basically believed that Paul had it coming for whatever he had done to become a prisoner and they assumed that it was murder. It was basically the belief in karma which is from Hinduism and teaches basically what goes around comes around. 

VERSES 5-6: And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. (6)  Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god. Now they are sitting back waiting and watching for Paul to fall over dead. Didn't happen, and now he was a god. Reminds me of when he and Barnabus were in Iconium in chapter 14 and they went from trying to stone them to thinking Barnabas was Jupiter and Paul was Mercurius (Acts 14:1-15). 

VERSES 7-9: In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously. (8)  And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him. (9)  So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed: Now we need the head honcho, Publius who had offered then lodging whose father lay ill. Again, we see Paul healing which was part of the Kingdom ministry that I believe ceased once the offer was off the table because obviously, Paul was not able to do it later (2Tim 4:20).

VERSE 10: Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary. Obviously, Publius was very grateful and showed it. 

VERSE 11: And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux. This verse makes it obvious that they stayed there for three months, which means this would have been around January or February when they departed. In Greek mythology, they were known as the twin half-brothers or the Gemini Twins. They were regarded as the patrons of sailors to whom they appeared as St. Elmo's fire is a weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created by a corona discharge from a sharp or pointed object in a strong electric field in the atmosphere. It appeared on ships at sea during thunderstorms and was regarded by sailors with religious awe for its glowing ball of light, accounting for the name. Sailors considered it as a good omen as that it was thought to be a sign of the presence of their patron saints.

VERSE 12: And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days.  When it speaks of Syracuse, it is speaking of an island and Sicily and not New York. 

VERSE 13: And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli: Interesting that the word compass is not referring to an actual compass, but a direction. It actually means to go around. Rhegium is Reggion, Italy which is down at the bottom of the country (the toe). 

VERSE 14: Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome. Again, pretty apparent that Paul's arrest was pretty relaxed. Randy White makes a point of mentioning that we do not know who these brethren were: Kingdom or Grace, but it would seem to be Grace considering their location. 

VERSE 15: And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage. The Appii forum according to Barnes was a city about 56 miles from Rome, so he is close. The three taverns were located about 8 to 10 miles from Rome. 

Notice that he thanked God, and took courage. After all, he had been waiting for this day a long time (Rom 1:9-11; Rom 15:23, Rom 15:32). 

VERSE 16: And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him. Upon arrival, the centurion transfers custody of the prisoners (276 of them), except for Paul who gets to stay by himself with one soldier to keep watch over him. 

VERSE 17: And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. The chief of the Jews would be the leader of the local synagogue. At this point makes a point of bringing him up to date as to why he is there and denies the Jewish accusation that was made against him in regards to the law of Moses, circumcision, and the customs. Of course, Paul had taught the opposite to the Gentiles with the Grace Gospel, but never to the Jews. 

We have to assume this to be the case or he is lying. Think about that. Teachers must come to the conclusion that Paul had not received the mystery yet, or that he was indeed preaching two gospels in my humble opinion. 

VERSE 18: Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. You remember that Agrippa said, "This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar" (Acts 26:32). 

VERSE 19: But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. Of course, the Jews did not accept Paul's innocence on either count, Jew or Roman, and he was left with little option but to appeal his case to Caesar. 

The latter part of the verse is conflicting to me in that Paul had plenty to accuse his nation of by this point. Yet, the only way that I can explain it is that Paul, in a spirit of forgiveness, even though wrongly accused, wished no ill will upon his people, the nation of Israel. 

VERSE 20: For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain. Notice Paul says because of the hope of Israel. What is the hope of Israel? Their Messiah! Simeon referred to it as their consolation in Luke 2:25. Ultimately, this word is connected to the Kingdom (Jer 16:7). 

Paul referred to it in Acts 23:6. Paul says that the reason he is in these chains is that he preached that to the nation and they rejected it. Now many today, will read this passage and say that Paul was under arrest for preaching the gospel, and he was, but not the Gospel of Grace. 

VERSE 21: And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee. The word brethren in this verse should not be understood as believers. Instead, it is speaking of just other Jews. So, context is the key, as with everything that we study in the Bible. From everything we can see here, these were unbelieving Jews that Paul was speaking of here. The good thing here for Paul is that this made them an unbiased jury that had not already formed an opinion one way of the other at this point. 

VERSE 22: But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against. Well, here we go! Notice that they refer to the believing Jews as a sect again. Remember, it is translated as heresy. The word heresy by definition means any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs. The word in and of itself is not necessarily bad. 

Randy White points out something interesting when he says, " Even by this late date (63 A.D.) there had not been a removal from the Jews by the members of the Way, though the sect was spoken against by Jewish brethren. If this is true, there is the almost astonishing fact that believers in Jesus Christ (such as the Apostles) are living within Judaism, and thus clearly obedient to the laws of Judaism."

Historically, Kingdom Believers still saw themselves as a part of Judaism, and not something else, let alone another religion. They were simply believing in the promises given to their fathers in the Old Testament in regard to the coming Messiah and the establishment of the Kingdom. Remember that even the derogatory word Christian was used against them initially.

VERSE 23: And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. In the last verse, after Paul had given them an update about why he was there, and that he was innocent of the charges made against him, asked him what he thought of this sect, we know that everywhere is spoken against. The fact that Paul expounds and persuades them out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets should make it pretty clear that he is not speaking of the Grace Gospel because it can not be found there (Rom 16:25). Again, we have got to stop looking at the book as the birth of the church, and more so about the diminishing of Israel (Rom 11:12). 

It is obvious to me that Paul's greatest desire still at this point was for the nation to repent and accept Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah which was first required for the Kingdom to be given. So, no, he is not talking to these guys about the Grace Gospel. Another point to be made here is that the Grace Gospel was the Gospel of the uncircumcision (Gal 2:7) and not the nation of Israel. 

VERSE 24: And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. Some did, some didn't. Paul's only obligation was to be faithful in sharing it, as is ours. We are not responsible for the outcome. 

VERSE 25-27: And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, (26)  Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: (27)  For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Paul's conclusion was by quoting Isa 6:9-10. According to the next verses in Isa 6:11-13, judgment should have fallen upon the nation for their refusal to listen. However, that is where grace comes in that only Paul knew about.

As we already established, the Hebrew Scriptures did not know the mystery of the temporary postponement and the age of grace. Only Paul was told about that! 

VERSE 28: Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. Paul know reveals this mystery to them that God is not going to bring that judgment on them, and will instead, take the message of salvation to the Gentiles without them via the Grace Gospel. And, as we have already established, God was going to tod this through the message he gave Paul. 

VERSE 29: And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves. And, they walked away about confused. 

VERSE 30: And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, The time that Paul spent in his own hired house would have been in the mid-60s. Notice that there is nothing said about a soldier being assigned to him as mentioned in Acts 28:16. It was during this time that he wrote his prison epistles; Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. 

VERSE 31: Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him. And during those two years, he preached the kingdom of God, and those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, as I see it, and I can only speak for myself, I believe this verse is saying that Paul preached both gospels during those two years. In other words, Paul believed that the Kingdom offer was still on the table at this point. 

Randy White puts it this way, "To deny that Paul was preaching the kingdom of God is to deny scripture. To deny that the kingdom that he was preaching is the future, physical, fraternal kingdom of God is to venture into make-believe."

There are four reasons he would have taught the kingdom at this point: 

1. He had no other message at this point. 

2. He was simply giving information about the now-withdrawn offer of the kingdom. 

3. The kingdom is still offered, and thus still needs to be proclaimed, while at the same time the Gospel of the dispensation of the grace of God is also being offered. This is the “overlap” position that I have taken in this study. (Now I know that some will disagree with that assessment, and I reserve the right to disagree with it later myself, but for now, that is the way I see it.) Of course, all Scripture has to be compared with Scripture. The best commentary on the Bible is the Bible itself. As we study through the Pauline Epistles, I may very well have to change my view on this, and I certainly willing to do so. 

4. His definition of the Kingdom was spiritual which is the standard evangelical answer today. 

Whatever he was teaching, he did it with all confidence, no man forbidding him. Sadly though, by the time he writes 2Tim 1:15, all they which are in Asia had turned away from him.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Acts Study | Session 39 | 27:1-44

In today's study, Paul and his companions still find themselves at sea and things are seemingly going from bad to worse. However, an angel of the Lord appears unto him with encouragement that while the ship was going to sink, all on board would be saved if they did not try to flee, and that he would safely arrive in Rome.

Chapter 27

VERSE 1: And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus' band. The we indicates that Luke was writing this. The fact that Paul is allowed to travel with his friends speaks to the amount of freedom that he had even though he was still technically under house arrest. 

VERSE 2: And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us. Aristarchus was first introduced in Act_19:29 when he and Gaius were caught up in the riot in Ephesus. 

VERSE 3: And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself. Again, it is obvious that Paul's "arrest" was a pretty loose one. 

VERSES 4-8: And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. (5)  And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. (6)  And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein. (7)  And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone; (8)  And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea. Just a little bit of Paul's travel itinerary. 

VERSE 9: Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, The fast that Luke is referring to is the Day of Atonement which would mean this was after the month Tisri which would have been part of September and part of October (Lev 23:27). Barnes said, "Historically, this is the time of the autumnal equinox, and when the navigation of the Mediterranean was esteemed to be particularly dangerous, from the storms which usually occurred about that time. The ancients regarded this as a dangerous time to navigate the Mediterranean. 

VERSE 10: And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. It seems from the passage that Paul was merely speaking out of natural perception of what was going on around him rather than something supernatural. 

VERSE 11: Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. Paul was overruled. 

VERSES 12-13: And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. (13)  And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. Love that word commodiuous. It simply means suitable. Luke filling the details as any good physician would do (Col 4:14). We also see this attention to detail in his Gospel. Many see Acts as just part 2 of Luke's gospel account. 

Matthew, Mark, and Luke make up what are called the synoptic gospels because they are so similar. John breaks the mold. However, Luke's has more words and is the most detailed. 

VERSE 14: But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. The word used for tempestuous is where we get the word typhoon which might have accounted for the weather conditions. The word Euroclydon simply means that it came from the East. It is what we would call today a Northeaster. 

Barnes says that "interpreters have been much perplexed about the meaning of the word, which occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. The most probable supposition is, that it denotes “a wind not blowing steadily from any quarter, but a hurricane, or wind veering about to different quarters. Such hurricanes are known to abound in the Mediterranean, and are now called Levanters, deriving their name from blowing chiefly in the Levant, or eastern part of the Mediterranean."

VERSES 15-17: And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. (16)  And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: (17)  Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven. To let a ship drive means to let go of the wheel and let it go where it may. The words we had much work to come by the boat just means that they had a hard time saving the lifeboat. 

Another navigational term is undergirding the ship which simply means that they pass cables or rope completely around the ship in order for it to hold together. I looked it up and it is called frapping, "To frap a ship is to pass four or five turns of a large cable-laid rope round the hull or frame of a ship to support her in a great storm, or otherwise when it is apprehended that she is not strong enough to resist the violent efforts of the sea.”

VERSES 18-20: And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; (19)  And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. (20)  And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. Again, this is just Luke's attention to detail. To lighten the ship means that they began to throw things overboard such as the cargo. As a result, they had all lost hope of surviving the ordeal. Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to see how Paul was responding to this because, after all, God had told him he was going to Rome. 

VERSES 21-24: But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. (22) And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. (23)  For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, (24)  Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. The word abstinence is referring to how long they had gone without food. Some have presumed that this was because of a spiritual fast, however, have been in a typhoon myself, I feel fairly confident it had nothing to do with anything spiritual. 

Also, Paul feels compelled to say, "I told you so." However, after that statement, he does say something that an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve has told him that there is really no way he could have known without divine intervention. 

Now many Mid-Acts teachers will say that the fact that an angel is speaking to Paul is proof that the time of the Kingdom offer was still on the table. Of course, the assumption is that once the Kingdom is off the table, all of the marks of the Kingdom, tongues, miracles, raising the dead, healing with handkerchiefs, etc, ceases. Again, this why the Mid-Acts approach is not very palatable to Charismatics. 

Of course, the message of the angel was Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. Apparently, it was very important that Paul take the message to Rome. Can't help but ask, "Why?" Some would say so that the Great Commission could be fulfilled (Mat 28:19-20 and Act 1:8).  Rome being the uttermost. Did God use Paul to fulfill this (Act 28:30-31)? 

VERSES 25-26: Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. (26)  Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island. Paul offers encouragement, but also says that we must be cast upon a certain island. No details as to why, but that is what he was told by the angel. Maybe God already knew that the people on that island would respond and need Paul's ministry, e.g., Publius' father who would have already been sick of a fever (Act 28:8). 

VERSES 27-29: But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country; (28)  And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms. (29)  Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. I believe the fourteenth night speaks to since the storm started. Notice that they sounded, and found it twenty fathoms, and then again and found fifteen which means they were running into shallower waters, i.e., approaching land. To sound meant to cast a line and a lead into the water to determine the depth. Today, they use sonar. In this case, a fathom is five to six feet, so about 90-120 feet. 

VERSES 30-32: And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, (31)  Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. (32)  Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off. Paul must have had a suspicion that the crew was about to make a bolt as they let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship. The word colour means pretense which is to pretend or feign. Notice the words as though. In other words, they were acting as if they were going to do it. 

It was at this point that Paul spoke up and told the centurion and the soldiers that Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. At this point, they dropped the lifeboat. Again, they are listening to Paul against all odds. 

VERSES 33-38: Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. "For the last fourteen days," he said, "you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven't eaten anything. (34)  Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head." (35)  After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat. (36)  They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves. (37)  Altogether there were 276 of us on board. (38)  When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea. Seems that Paul is in charge at this point as he encourages them to eat something since they hadn't in fourteen days since the storm started. Also, very interesting to see who gives the credit to for all that is happening in v.35. This is also one verse that is used for us blessing our food before each meal. 

VERSES 39-41: And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. (40)  And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoised up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore. (41)  And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves. They were still looking for land when they saw what appeared to be a bay with a beach and decided to aim for it. So, they pulled up the anchors (other translations say they cut them loose and the KJV places it in italics), loosed the lowered the rudders back into the water, raised the mainsail, and aimed for the shore. Remember earlier they let go of the wheel (v.15), now they are taking control. Finally, the ship rams ashore with the hinder part of the ship being broken apart by the waves. 

VERSES 42-44: And the soldiers' counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. (43)  But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: (44)  And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land. There is no doubt that God granted favor to Paul in the eyes of the centurion in that he goes against the counsel of the others even though his neck was on the line if the prisoners did escape. Remember, it was life-for-life under Roman law. In the end, God miraculously delivered all souls on board. 

It reminds me of the favor that God showed Daniel at the hands of Melzar who allowed them to try their vegetarian diet instead of eating the king's meat. 

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Acts Study | Session 38 | 26:12-32

In today's study, we find Paul still before Agrippa giving his testimony for the third time. Of course, his point is to prove that he is not guilty of the accusations that were being leveled against him by the Jews which were initially in regard to him not teaching the Mosaic Law but had transitioned to him being a seditionist in an effort to get him indicted by Roman law.

VERSES 11-12: And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. (12)  Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, Can't help but notice where Paul was persecuting these followers of Jesus of Nazareth, in the synagogues. They, just like Paul after his conversion on the road to Damascus, and even throughout the book of Acts, continued to worship in the synagogues and participate in the temple. And understand, the problem that Paul had with them then was the exact same problem that his accusers were having with him now, the believed and were teaching the resurrection. 

VERSES 13-14: At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. (14)  And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. Paul once again gives his testimony about his conversion of the Damascus Road. Remember that Paul did not get his new name until after he had received the mystery in Acts 13:9 when he first preached the grace gospel in Acts 13:38-39. 

Another interesting thing that we pick up from this third time giving his testimony is that he says that the voice spoke to him in the Hebrew tongue. 

VERSES 15-17: And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. (16)  But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; (17)  Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, Notice to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee. This tells us that not everything was revealed to Paul at his initial conversion but would be later (2Cor 12:1; 2Cor 12:7). It is important that we not forget that he is giving his conversion experience in Acts 9 and not 1Tim 1:15-16. 

VERSE 18: To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. The message that was given to him was to turn them from darkness to light. Who is them? The nation of Israel. At first glance, it might be easy to conclude like many that Paul is talking about the grace gospel, but not so because this is his Damascus Road experience. Yes, forgiveness is common to both gospels as is Gentiles through proselytization. So, Paul was not only sent to the Jews from his conversion in Acts 9, but also to the Gentiles. 

The gospels are similar, but that does not make them the same. This will become glaringly obvious in vv.20-22. 

Remember that Moses and the prophets said nothing about the grace gospel. 

VERSES 19-20: Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: (20)  But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. Paul further tell Agrippa that he did exactly what God told him to do. Remember that Paul is still trying to defend the accusations that had been made against him that he was teaching against the Law of Moses, circumcision, and the customs. Therefore, he is is proving that since his conversion in Acts 9, he has been doing nothing but teaching the Law of Moses, circumcision, and the customs to the Jews. 

Also, remember that the Jews knew that none of these accusations would stick as a means of prosecution by the Romans. Therefore, they had also accused him of being a mover of sedition in Acts 24:5.

Also, we see from these verses that Paul was preaching the Kingdom Gospel is that his message was that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. That is clearly not grace. 

VERSE 21: For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. Again, Paul is stating that the reason the Jews are determined to kill him is because he was not only preaching the resurrection to the Jews, but also the Gentiles. Remember Acts 22:20-22?

VERSE 22: Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: I believe the help of God that he is referring to is Lycias. Paul is also saying that everything that he taught to both small and great is those things that the prophets and Moses said would happen. 

Remember that Jesus fulfilled the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament that Moses foretold  (Deu 18:15) as well as the prophets ( Paul's message to the Jewish nation was well-grounded in the Scripture; which, by the way, do not speak of the age of grace. 

VERSE 23: That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. Remember that the Old Testament foretold of the suffering Christ rising from the dead, to redeem the Jewish nation, who would reach the Gentiles. That was Plan A. cf. Isa 42:1; Isa 49:6; Isa 60:1-3; Zec 8:23. Sadly, this did not happen. The Great Commission included this same plan (Mat 28:19-20). 

VERSES 24-25: And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. (25)  But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. It is interesting that Festus blurts out that Paul was beside himself and that much learning had made him mad. Why did he blurt out? I believe that as a Gentile, he thought that the idea of the dead coming back to life was a little too much let along all of these prophecies and hopes hanging on it. 

VERSE 26: For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. Now, Paul, relying on Agrippa's Edomite past, says that he knows the things that he is talking about. Also, Paul notes that these things were not done in a corner. In other words, the whole known world was aware that something was special about this man Jesus. 

VERSES 27-28: King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. (28)  Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. Paul apparently knew that Agrippa believed the Old Testament Scriptures. Agrippa's response is interesting in that he says you almost persuade me to be a Christian. Why would he use the word Christian? Paul was not teaching the Grace Gospel here at all. Maybe it is because in all three places the word Christian is mentioned in the Bible, it seems to be referring to believing Jews. In Acts 11:26, it is doubtful that Paul had received the mystery by this time. The term simply meant that they believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Here in Acts 26:28. And Peter mentions it in 1Pet 4:16, and he for sure was not referring to Gentiles. Simply Jews who suffered for their belief in Christ as the Messiah. Just something to think about, or blow your mind as the case may be. 

Again, can't help but point out the word persuade which means to convince by argument as true or false. Oh, that we would do more of this today. Again, I am convinced that too many Christians are just too lazy to do the hard work needed to study their Bibles. They would prefer to be spoon-fed. I saw a meme the other days that said, "Pastors feed and lead and sheep follow and swallow." That is patently false, my friend! We should never ever follow and swallow. 

VERSE 29: And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. Here we see Paul's desire that not only Agrippa but also his entire nation would come to the same faith in Jesus of Nazareth as he had. 

VERSES 30-32: And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: (31)  And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds. (32)  Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar. Confirmation at last! Paul had done nothing wrong as far as Rome was concerned. The interesting thing that I see here is why didn't they just dismiss Paul at this point? What did they write to Caesar? 

Again, I believe politics was still in play here. They just wanted to be rid of him to appease the Jews. However, God was going to use it to get his man to Rome!