མཛད་པ། Acts 26:1-11

Acts 26.1-11 w B

Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense:

“I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.

 “My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?

“I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities. (Acts 26:1-11)

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Jesus told his apostles, at such time as they were brought before kings and governors, to trust the Holy Spirit to guide them in what to say (Luke’s Gospel Chapter 21 verses 12-15).

In verses 4-11 we read Paul’s testimony; he starts by describing his upbringing as a Pharisee by teachers in the temple. Because of this he had belief in resurrection, but he also became fiercely opposed to the Jesus Way of liberation from the obstacle of sin.

Next time we will read in verses 12-20 his own description of how he was converted to believe in Jesus, and then began to serve him (see Acts 9 verses 1-30 for Luke’s description).

མཛད་པ། Acts 25:13-27

Acts 25.13-27 w B

Now when some days had passed, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and greeted Festus. And as they stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying, “There is a man left prisoner by Felix, and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews laid out their case against him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him. I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up anyone before the accused met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to make his defense concerning the charge laid against him. So when they came together here, I made no delay, but on the next day took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought. When the accusers stood up, they brought no charge in his case of such evils as I supposed. Rather they had certain points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus, who was dead, but whom Paul asserted to be alive. Being at a loss how to investigate these questions, I asked whether he wanted to go to Jerusalem and be tried there regarding them. But when Paul had appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of the emperor, I ordered him to be held until I could send him to Caesar.” Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” said he, “you will hear him.”

So on the next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp, and they entered the audience hall with the military tribunes and the prominent men of the city. Then, at the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. And Festus said, “King Agrippa and all who are present with us, you see this man about whom the whole Jewish people petitioned me, both in Jerusalem and here, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. But I found that he had done nothing deserving death. And as he himself appealed to the emperor, I decided to go ahead and send him. But I have nothing definite to write to my lord about him. Therefore I have brought him before you all, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that, after we have examined him, I may have something to write. For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to indicate the charges against him.” (Acts 25:13-27)

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King Agrippa was a petty king allowed by the Romans to rule parts of the Province of Syria. He made a courtesy visit to the new governor.

Because Agrippa had the right to appoint the high priest in the Jewish Temple, it might not only be of interest to him for Paul to be heard; but further examination could also provide useful information for Festus.

མཛད་པ། Acts 25:1-12

Acts 25.1-12 w B

Now three days after Festus had arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. And the chief priests and the principal men of the Jews laid out their case against Paul, and they urged him, asking as a favor against Paul[a] that he summon him to Jerusalem—because they were planning an ambush to kill him on the way. Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea and that he himself intended to go there shortly. “So,” said he, “let the men of authority among you go down with me, and if there is anything wrong about the man, let them bring charges against him.”

After he stayed among them not more than eight or ten days, he went down to Caesarea. And the next day he took his seat on the tribunal and ordered Paul to be brought.  When he had arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him that they could not prove.  Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” But Festus, wishing to do the Jews a favor, said to Paul, “Do you wish to go up to Jerusalem and there be tried on these charges before me?”  But Paul said, “I am standing before Caesar’s tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well.  If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar.”  Then Festus, when he had conferred with his council, answered, “To Caesar you have appealed; to Caesar you shall go.” (Acts 25:1-12)

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The new governor of Syria Province having arrived, the Jews repeated their plan of finding a means to assassinate Paul. When that failed, they came to repeat their charges against him. These also failed.

However Governor Festus wanting like Felix to please the Jews did not release him, suggesting yet another trial. So Paul very boldly declared his right to be fairly judged in Caesar’s High Court. And Festus was persuaded.

We shall continue to read how God fulfilled his purpose by bringing Paul finally (Chapter 28) to the very centre of the Empire in Rome.