RESURRECTION IS CENTRAL
Lord, give me favor with those above me.
Read ACTS 25:13–22
Festus Consults King Agrippa
13 A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus. 14 Since they were spending many days there, Festus discussed Paul’s case with the king. He said: “There is a man here whom Felix left as a prisoner. 15 When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and asked that he be condemned.
16 “I told them that it is not the Roman custom to hand over anyone before they have faced their accusers and have had an opportunity to defend themselves against the charges. 17 When they came here with me, I did not delay the case, but convened the court the next day and ordered the man to be brought in. 18 When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. 19 Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. 20 I was at a loss how to investigate such matters; so I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial there on these charges. 21 But when Paul made his appeal to be held over for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.”
22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear this man myself.”
He replied, “Tomorrow you will hear him.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“What I received I passed on… that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day” (1 Cor. 15:3,4).
Paul’s appeal to Caesar places Festus in a challenging spot, for he must write an official report detailing the charges against Paul and the reason for the appeal. Thankfully, help arrives in the form of King Agrippa and his sister Bernice. This is Herod Agrippa II (AD 27–100), the final ruler in the infamous Herodian line, great-grandson of Herod the Great. It is important that Festus gets Agrippa’s advice and support, for Agrippa is “the king of the Jews” and enjoys the respect of Nero himself.
Scholars often debate Acts’s sources and focus on this private exchange. How does Luke know what is said? It is unlikely that he would have had direct access to the discussion, though some propose that he had access to a court informant or simply deduced what was said from the hearing that follows. It is most likely that, guided by the Holy Spirit, he follows the historical convention of creating a speech that is in character and appropriate to the situation. What we can see clearly is Festus’s attempt to present himself in the best possible light before this half-Jewish ruler.
It is interesting that their discussion hinges on the core of the Gospel—“about a dead man named Jesus whom Paul claimed was alive” (19). This important reference to Christ’s death and resurrection is part of Luke’s attempt to develop the resurrection theme from the more general to the more specific in Acts 22–26. It also shows us that Paul is focused on proclaiming this central doctrine of Christian faith in a way that mirrors his writing in 1 Corinthians 15 and elsewhere. The death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ still constitute the central issue of the Christian faith, as well as the great turning point in history.
It is important in our own witness that we focus on this core of the Gospel, just as Paul does. Who can you share this with today?
Lord, I believe the fact of the resurrection and that it truly is the turning point in history.
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