TIME WITH AGRIPPA
Lord, we see Your hand at work in our lives.
Read ACTS 25:23—26:1a
Paul Before Agrippa
23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the audience room with the high-ranking military officers and the prominent men of the city. At the command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24 Festus said: “King Agrippa, and all who are present with us, you see this man! The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 I found he had done nothing deserving of death, but because he made his appeal to the Emperor I decided to send him to Rome. 26 But I have nothing definite to write to His Majesty about him. Therefore I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that as a result of this investigation I may have something to write. 27 For I think it is unreasonable to send a prisoner on to Rome without specifying the charges against him.”
26 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.”
So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense:
New International Version (NIV)
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“When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters—one represents danger, the other represents opportunity” (John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1917–1963).
After hearing about him from Festus, Agrippa wants to hear from Paul directly. This scene is full of “great pomp” (23) and circumstance. In many ways a judicial hearing is being transformed into theater and spectacle for royal entertainment. Further, it is not just Festus and Agrippa who are present, but Luke tells us that many other high-ranking military officers and leading men of Caesarea are also present. This is quite possibly the most significant and influential audience Paul will ever have.
We can imagine Paul being brought before this impressive group, his appearance a striking contrast to theirs. He would be wearing very simple clothing along with the chains of his imprisonment (Acts 26:29). Yet looks can be deceiving, and he goes on to deliver a powerful testimony about his life and God’s involvement in what is the great climax of all the speeches in Acts.
Once again, we see Paul transforming crisis into opportunity, calamity into a platform for advancing the Kingdom of God. The vast majority of his hearers would have been Gentiles, men of great influence and authority. Paul recognizes that, despite his status as a prisoner, this is his God-ordained opportunity to proclaim the Gospel to the elites. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that precisely because of his imprisonment he has this opportunity. Paul’s suffering and incarceration have actually led him to this great stage—and he determines to capitalize on this unique window handed to him by God. Luke once again presents Paul as the ultimate missionary-prisoner, a model for his readers to emulate wholeheartedly.
Ask God for his wisdom, for a change of perspective to enable you to see the opportunities in every situation, to make the most of every occasion.
Lord, give me the eyes to see when You have arranged a forum precisely for me to share my testimony with someone.