Thursday, October 3, 2013

B.C. to A.D. (Acts 26)

The last time we studied together (online, that is), we were looking at Acts 25.  Before we jump into Acts 26, let’s set the stage…  As a Roman citizen, Paul had appealed to have his case brought before Caesar, so that his guilt or innocence could be decided once-and-for-all (Acts 25:11).  The only problem with Paul’s appeal was that Festus didn’t have any crime with which to charge Paul (Acts 25:27).  So at the end of Acts 25, Paul was brought before an audience to, once again, tell his story (Acts 25:23) – in hopes that they would find something with which to charge Paul.  The most notable of those invited was King Agrippa (i.e. Herod Agrippa II), ruler of Palestine.  Okay, let’s get into Acts 26.  If you read carefully, you’ll be better able to picture the nuances of the scene.  I’ve provided a few notes below to help you out.  Just use it as a reading guide.

Vs.       Description                                                                                                  
1-3      Paul gives his opening statement.

4-7      Paul speaks to King Agrippa specifically, explaining to him the reason the Jews were so bent-out-of-shape about him.

8-12    Paul shifts his focus to the larger audience and relays his B.C. (before Christ) background.

13-18  Paul turns back to King Agrippa to recount his conversion experience.  If/when you have time, look back at Acts 9 and 22 to see two other accounts of Paul’s conversion.  Just as the Gospels layer our understanding of events in Jesus’ life, when looked at together, Acts 9, 22, and 26 give us a broader understanding of this key event in the New Testament.

19-23  Still directed toward King Agrippa, Paul explains how he was obedient “to the heavenly vision” (vs. 19).  We could call this the beginning of the A.D. (after deliverance) period of Paul’s life.

24-26  At this point, Festus interrupts Paul, shouting that he is mad, but Paul keeps his focus on King Agrippa.  Why?  Read on…

27-29  Paul recognizes that King Agrippa is on the cusp of confessing belief in Jesus.  For just a moment, I sense a shift in the power differential.  Paul, instead of testifying, pounces as an attorney does when sensing vulnerability in a witness.  (At least that’s what attorneys do on

         Luke makes it very clear that King Agrippa was the object of Paul’s focus.  Haven’t you ever felt that way in church … like the minister is talking to/about you even though he hasn’t mentioned you by name?  It wasn’t the preacher calling you out; it was the Holy Spirit.  With a finger in Acts 26, go to (and read) John 16:7-9.  What does this say about the role of the Holy Spirit when it comes to the world (include what verse 9 says about why)? 

The Holy Spirit’s purposes when it comes to “the ungodly multitude” (part of Strong’s definition for world) is to convict the world of sin.  Why do they need convicted?  “…because they do not believe in Me.”  The Me here is Jesus.  Unbelievers need to be convicted of their sin by the Holy Spirit while they still have a chance to believe.  Likewise, the Holy Spirit has a role in the life of a believer.  What does John 16:10 say about the Holy Spirit’s role when it comes to righteousness? 
In Tentmakers, we’ve repeatedly been reminded of 2 Corinthians 5:21 – how that, through Christ, we are the righteousness of God.  Still in 2 Corinthians 5, read verses 19-20.  “We are Christ’s ambassadors.”  Is God allowing anyone else to feel a little bit of the weight of that responsibility at this moment? 

Now What?  Like God was using Paul to minister to King Agrippa in that moment, there are people in our lives to whom God is calling us to minister.  We’re not to take on the responsibility of their salvation.  The Holy Spirit is the only One who can help seeds you’ve planted to take root.  That being said, we are accountable to God for being obedient to His direction.

I’ll leave you to finish out Acts 26 with verses 30-32.  I look forward to studying with you again soon!  We’ll be in Acts 27.

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