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READING: Acts 25-26 – Before Festus & Agrippa


“Festus went to Jerusalem soon after arriving. The priests made charges against Paul, asking Festus to summon him – planning to kill him enroute.” (25:1-3) 

Festus said we return to Caesarea shortly. Make your charges there. He returned to Caesarea with the priests. 

The Jews brought unprovable charges. Paul argued, “I have not offended the Temple or Caesar.” Festus, favoring the Jews, asked Paul to go to Jerusalem. Paul said, “I stand before Caesar’s tribunal. If I deserve death, I accept it. Their charges are empty; no one can give me to them. I appeal to Caesar.”  Festus said, “To Caesar you shall go.” (25:6-12) 

King Agrippa and Bernice visited Festus. Festus told Agrippa about Paul and Jewish accusations about Jesus, a dead man who Paul insists lives. Festus asked him to go to Jerusalem for trial, but Paul said no one could make him go and appealed to Caesar. Agrippa said he would hear Paul. Festus set it up for Agrippa and a group of notables. 

Paul thanked Agrippa for this opportunity to speak since Agrippa understood Jewish customs and controversies. He said the Jews knew him as a zealous Pharisee opposing the name of Jesus in Jerusalem. “In raging fury, I persecuted them even to foreign cities. Going to Damascus, commissioned by the chief priests to bring Jesus followers back for trial and punishment; at midday there was a light from heaven, brighter than the sun. We fell to the ground; I heard a voice saying, ‘Why do you persecute me?’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord? He said, ‘I am Jesus whom you persecute. Rise; I appeared to you to appoint you a servant and witness to what you have seen and will see, delivering you from your people and the Gentiles – to whom I send you to open eyes and turn them from Satan to God, to receive forgiveness of sins and sanctification by faith in me.” (26:4-18) 

“I obeyed the vision and declared in Damascus, Jerusalem, Judea, and to Gentiles to repent. The Jews seized me and tried to kill me. I had help from God, so I testify to small all, saying what the prophets and Moses said would happen, that Messiah should suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and proclaim light to Jews and Gentiles.” (26:19-23) 

Festus shouted, “You are out of your mind! Your great learning is making you mad!” 

Paul responded, “No, Festus; I speak true, rational words. The king knows these things; I am persuaded none of this has escaped his notice. King Agrippa, Do you believe the prophets?” Agrippa said, ‘Would you persuade me to be a Christian?’ Paul said, ‘I wish all were as I am, save these chains.’” (26:24-29) 

Agrippa and Festus rose, saying to one another, “This man is doing nothing deserving death. He could be free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”  

On his way to Jerusalem, you could not stop him. Now, he refuses Jerusalem but goes to Rome. 

PRAY FOR YOURSELF 

“Father, I pray wondering about Paul and why he insisted on going to Jerusalem even though the Holy Spirit said in every city he would be in trouble there. Sometimes I am as stubborn as he was. I can be very stubborn, but I pray for forgiveness and Your help to overcome this weakness. Through Jesus I pray that your will be done, Amen.” 

MY PRAYER FOR YOU (and myself) 

“Father may each of us see that what we do in haste, we repent of at leisure. Let Paul’s example teach us. We realize he wanted to personally complete his mission to bring the Jews and Greeks together in one body. Yet from the time he became a Christian, Jerusalem was a toxic place for him. Would it have been better for him, after raising the money for the Jerusalem saints, to have written letters of introduction for the messengers of the churches and let them take the money? My hindsight is not as good as your foresight, but it appears his eagerness to see Jerusalem robbed him of five years’ freedom to preach, even to Spain – though he did get opportunities to witness to people in low and high positions. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” 

One Response

  1. Was Paul wise in rejecting what the Holy Spirit was telling him in every city as he traveled to Jerusalem the last time? See Acts 20 & 21.

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