Friday, November 8. Acts 26 – 28

Chapter twenty-six is the longest defense of Paul’s life in this book.

His hearers are not nobodies. Herod Agrippa (the second) is the son of the Herod Agrippa who put James to death and tried to kill Peter. He is the great-grandson of the Herod who killed the little babies when Jesus was born. Festus was the Roman governor. Bernice was Herod Agrippa II’s sister, and if you get the feeling there was something untoward in their relationship, you’d probably be right for the rumor mill in their own time operated at full tilt about their affair.

Paul is not a nobody. All of his accusers know that Paul was once one of them – and doctrinally, still is. Paul is on trial because he believes in the resurrection of the dead – specifically, Jesus’ resurrection. All of his accusers know that Paul was an ardent persecutor of Christianity.

But something changed him, and he relates the cause of the change in his speech.

Festus is a newcomer to Palestine and knows nothing of these matters, but Paul knows Agrippa knows about them all, and he appeals to Agrippa’s belief in the Jewish faith.

Paul’s tact, and you should not miss it, is to essentially ask Agrippa: “How good a Jew are you?” Agrippa wants to answer “A good one!” But if he does, he must embrace Paul’s faith. That is the argument Paul uses. Rather than an answer Paul, Agrippa skirts the issue, knowing where Paul is leading, but proclaiming instead Paul’s innocence.

But Paul is not to go free. The story is not about Paul. It is about God, and it is God’s will that Paul go to Rome – on the emperor’s dime.