Help from God
Generous Father, You are a giver of great things and small mercies. I bow before You and ask Your wisdom.
Read Acts 26:19-32
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Paul was highly educated, intelligent, logical in his thinking. He knew some people had to struggle with tough questions before they came to Christ” (Bill Hybels).
“Not disobedient to the vision from heaven” (19). What an understatement! Paul’s persecution of believers screeched to a halt and he began spreading good news everywhere!
As we return to Paul’s apologia before Agrippa, we see him warming to his task before a man who was knowledgeable and sympathetic. He shifts from the story of his conversion to the story of how he shared the story of forgiveness and new life. Lots is left out (and this may be a summary of what he said rather than a verbatim transcript) but let’s note what he regards as the essential core of his message. First, he stresses the continuity of the Gospel from the prophets and the Torah (22). It’s good to remember this, when anti-Semitism still runs deep, and the New Testament itself has been misrepresented as an anti-Semitic document. Even so, we have to admit that Luke’s emphasis contrasts the murderous intent of the Jews with the more restrained legality of the Romans—reflecting the trajectory of Paul’s life. There is a strain of universalism in the Old Testament: their God is not just another tribal God, but the one God, for everyone. Second, he stresses the suffering of the Messiah. Finally there comes the golden thread of apostolic preaching in Acts: Christ’s resurrection.
The response is fascinating. Festus is stirred, and reacts aggressively, accusing Paul of being mad. Agrippa, more restrained, realizes that Paul knows he believes the Scriptures. But what of the tone in v. 28? Drily dismissive? Or a quiet indication that Agrippa is close to the kingdom? People’s initial reaction to the Gospel is never predictable and, very often, the more aggressive response indicates something deeper. Our job is to be discerning, and to trust the Spirit.
Sharpen your understanding of the Faith by resolving to read a book on apologetics. Then, write a brief defense of your faith.
Lord, today I pray for evangelists who serve in the academic arena. Use them, the apologists and other defenders of the Faith who seek to persuade people toward Christ.
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