Acts 26

Acts 26
by Pastor David Groendyk

Paul’s trek to Rome continues. So far he’s been brought before the Jewish Sanhedrin, two successive governors of Judea and Samaria (Felix and Festus), and now he is in front of King Agrippa. He’s slowly working his way up the ladder until he gets to Rome and appears before the Caesar (see Acts 9:15–16).

Paul’s argument and defense before King Agrippa is a great evangelistic message. Essentially he proclaims that Christianity is the true fulfillment of Judaism and all the Old Testament prophecies and promises. The only reason he is on trial is because he believes that Jesus has been raised from the dead (v. 8), and that Jesus’s resurrection is the great hope and fulfillment of the promises made to the patriarchs, which the twelve tribes of Israel had been hoping in for thousands of years (vv. 6–7). As Paul then recounts his conversion experience again, he simply states that in everything he is doing he is being obedient to the heavenly call of God to spread the news of this Messiah who has come (vv. 19–21). Paul is being faithful to God, faithful to Jesus, and faithful to the Old Testament. King Agrippa has a fascinating response. In back-to-back breathes, he recognizes but refuses Paul’s plea to believe in Jesus Christ and become a Christian (v. 28), but he also decrees that Paul is innocent of the accusations against him (v. 31). King Agrippa clearly has some sort of special connections to Judaism and may have had a reputation as a Jew (vv. 3, 27), but he never believed.

One commentary on this chapter draws two helpful applications for us. First, the gospel will always be a message of life to some and death to others. As 2 Corinthians 2:15–16 says, “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” For Paul, the good news of Christ was a sweet aroma of life, but for King Agrippa (and many others before whom Paul testifies), the good news is a deadly stench. Some will simply not believe and have their hearts further hardened.

Second, like Paul, we must be unashamed and unafraid evangelists. Paul is simply not afraid of being called insane. He is also not afraid of being direct with men who are highly educated and high in authority. He is always ready to speak the truth and make a plea for his hearers to believe. He fears no one but God. That doesn’t stop him from defending himself and making the case that his words are quite rational and logical (v. 25), and he doesn’t ever disrespect or dishonor those in authority over him, but he takes his shot, respectfully and directly. We can all certainly learn from Paul’s example of fearing God alone when it comes to witnessing about Jesus, and not being afraid of men and women, their reactions, or our own reputations. To paraphrase Jesus himself, we do not fear those who simply harm the body, but we fear him who rules over both body and soul.