Paul’s Defense: Acts 26:1-19.
Paul began his defense before King Agrippa by expressing gratitude because he was familiar with Jewish law and customs. Paul explained his upbringing as a Jew and said that he belonged to the strictest sect of Pharisees. Paul’s goal was to convince Agrippa that Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. Christ’s resurrection was the central theme of Paul’s message. He knew that the resurrection is the hope of the Old Testament saints (Heb 11:13). Paul went on to explain what he had done against Christians. He imprisoned and compelled the disciples to blaspheme against God. He locked up many saints in the prison after receiving authority from the chief priest. He cast his vote against Stephen. He even persecuted and chased Christians down in the foreign cities. Then Paul explained his Damascus vision in which Christ appeared to him. A light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on him and his companions. They all fell down and Paul heard a voice saying to him in Hebrews “Soul, Soul why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will”. And Paul said “Who are you Lord?” And the Lord said “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting”. Paul was told that he was appointed to bear witness to gentiles that they may turn from their sin to God and receive forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ. Paul ended his conversion story by saying, “So, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision”. Only God could bring this kind of transformation in Paul’s life. Salvation is a supernatural work of God. God brought life from nothing in creation, gave children to barren women and raised the dead (Gen 1:1; 21:1; 1 King 17:19-22). In the resurrection of Christ, God demonstrated his power to raise the dead. The same power is at work in our conversion. Pray that God would give you the boldness to share your testimony to others with grace and passion.
Paul’s Post-Conversion Ministry: Acts 26:20-32.
Paul was obedient to his divine call and preached the gospel everywhere. Repentance was a vital part of Paul’s evangelistic message. Paul based his hope on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was the reason why Jews wanted to kill him. But God protected Paul from death and enabled him to preach Christ. He taught that the Messiah would suffer first and be the first to rise from the dead (26:23). Suddenly, Festus shouted “Paul, you are insane. Too much study has made you mad”. Paul said “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, I am sober minded and I am speaking the truth”. He said King Agrippa knew about it because these things were not done in a corner. Paul asked Agrippa, “Do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe”. Agrippa said to Paul “In short time would you persuade me to become a Christian? Paul replied “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone hear me this day might become the same as I am, except for these chains”. After dismissing Paul, Agrippa said to Festus “Paul could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar”. Thus Paul’s innocence was verified by Roman officials. Paul's testimony was warm, straightforward and captivating. He found confidence in the promises of God. The resurrection of Christ gave him the courage and motivation to preach the gospel. Paul knew that without Christ life is hopeless and useless. Only Christ can bring meaning and purpose in life. Pray that God would fill your heart with confidence in his grace so that you will have power to live in the newness of life.