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! 

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