Read Acts 26
1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.”
So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense: 2 “King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.
4 “The Jewish people all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. 5 They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee. 6 And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today. 7 This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. King Agrippa, it is because of this hope that these Jews are accusing me. 8 Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?
9 “I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.
12 “On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’
15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. 16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen—23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”
24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”
25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”
28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”
30 The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them. 31 After they left the room, they began saying to one another, “This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.”
32 Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”
Another daily reading, another trial for Paul. That’s all we’ve been reading lately, or so it seems. What makes today’s trial stand out, though, is its audience. King Agrippa is King of Judea, and the people with him are fellow royalty and high-ranking officials. This trial is a big deal; it’s the one that Paul has been waiting for. Not because he thinks the king will finally realize the case built against him is faulty and let him go, but because he jumps at the chance to preach the gospel to kings and rulers (an actual fulfillment of what Jesus said Paul would do in Acts 9).
Paul feels fortunate to have an audience that not many people had. And he wastes no time in sharing the gospel with these very important people. Agrippa even calls Paul on it and asks if he is trying to make him a Christian in such a short time?! Paul does not deny what he is trying to do. In verse 29, he says, “Short time or long–I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today become what I am.” Paul’s mission is obvious even to a non-believer. His goal is clearly stated. In a trial where he finally has the chance to defend himself and become (physically) free, he uses that platform to share the Truth that would help his audience become (spiritually) free instead.
You see, Paul didn’t care whether he was in jail or walking free, on a ship or on land, in Jerusalem or in Ephesus, whether he was making tents or preaching the gospel. He just assumed wherever he was, no matter what he was doing, he had an opportunity to share his faith with whoever was around. Where are you? What are you doing today? How can you follow Paul’s example and share your faith wherever you are, through whatever you’re doing and whoever you’re around today?
At this point in Acts, we’ve read Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus firsthand, as well as heard him retell the story a few times. What stands out to you as you read it again today?
Are you as bold as Paul in sharing your faith? Why or why not? What keeps you from sharing the gospel with whoever you’re around?
What environment are you in right now? How can you preach the gospel where you are today?
Did You Know?
King Agrippa’s great grandfather tried to kill Jesus as a baby. His grandfather had John the Baptist beheaded, and his father had martyred the apostle James. Yet, here we see Paul share the gospel message confidently with someone who had caused the early Church so much grief.