This Bible Study is written by Roger Christopherson, available at http://www.theseason.org

The

Acts of the Apostles

Chapter 26

"Paul's Defense."

 

Acts 26:1 "Then Agrippa said unto Paul. "Thou art permitted to speak for thyself." Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:"

Paul has had one trial after another before rulers that knew not the law of Moses, nor who knew who Jesus Christ was. Now however, Paul is about to defend himself before King Agrippa who like Paul was well trained in the laws of God, as well as the Roman law. Festus the Governor has told Agrippa that Paul has requested to answer all charges against him before the court of Caesar. The thing that is concerning Festus is that he doesn't have a charge to place against him deserving of the death that the Jews are demanding.

Remember that God is in control, and the purpose of all these trials is that Paul may present the Gospel of Jesus Christ before the Gentiles and kings, as is recorded in Acts 9:15; "But the Lord said unto him [Ananias], "Go thy way: for he [Paul] is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:"

Then in Acts 23:11 Jesus Himself told Paul, "And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, "Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of Me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome." This is all part of Paul's final journey to Rome to witness before Caesar. To us it means prophetically that when the Antichrist [Satan] is on the earth ruling, those of the elect that will be called up to witness, will be called to where Satan is ruling from. That place is on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, that will be the capital city of the world.

Paul was in chains here, and stretched forth his hands to speak, with the chains and shackles in place. He had done nothing, yet he was in chains. It will be the same with those delivered up before Antichrist in the time just ahead, but they will be the chains of our heavenly Father, with the Holy Spirit speaking through them. Paul begins to speak to king Aggripa.

Acts 26:2 "I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:"

Remember it was those foreign Kenite Jews that made all the charges against Paul, that were from Asia. They were the ones that accused him in the beginning.

Acts 26:3 "Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently."

Paul knew that Agippa had a great interest in all religions, and this new religion Christianity is what brought the accusations against Paul. King Agrippa was well learned in many of the religions of that day, in what the Romans call "superstitions".

Acts 26:4 "My manner of life from my youth, which was at first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;"

The Jews in Jerusalem knew my life from my youth, because I studied there under the teaching of Gamaliel. Paul's records were kept in the high priests office. Gamaliel was well known in the world of that day as an authority of the laws, as well as the Scriptures. Paul is stating that there was no secret who I was, I was well known to all of them.

Acts 26:5 "Which knew me from , if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee."

Paul is saying that if they would just be honest, they could testify as to what I am saying. Paul belonged to the most strict sect of all the Jews, the Pharisee, and he knew all the law, as well as the Jewish traditions and customs. Paul was quite a scholar.

Acts 26:6 "And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:"

The "hope of the promise made of God" is the promise of a coming Messiah. This promise came not only in the days of Abraham, but as far back as the Garden of Eden, as recorded in Genesis 3:15. "And I [God] will put enmity between thee [Satan] and the woman [Eve], and between thy seed [the Kenites] and her Seed [Jesus Christ]; It [Jesus Christ] shall bruise thy [Satan's] head, and thou [Satan] shalt bruise His [Jesus Christ's] heel."

This records the fact that the Messiah would suffer at the hands of Satan's seed the Kenites, not at the hands of Judah of Israel, as is taught by many. The Scriptures teach that the Messiah would come and suffer, and that is the hope of the promise. That by His resurrection there would be eternal life for those that would believe. Paul is telling Agrippa that it is because of that hope of the Messiah that I am here in chains before you.

Acts 26:7 "Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews."

Paul is pointing to the Sadducees who teach against the hope of the resurrection, for they believe that there is on hope or life after death in the flesh. Paul is showing king Agrippa that it is for the Word of God that he is standing in judgment.

Remember back in the book of Daniel the story of the three young men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego? What were they thrown into the furnace for? They were thrown in the fire for not bowing to another religion.

Daniel 3:12 "There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." They refused to bow to an image, or accept another belief.

Acts 26:8 "Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?"

Why would you think it is a crime that God could raise the dead? That is not a charge worthy of taking a man's life.

Acts 26:9 "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth."

In the beginning of my life I did many things contrary to the work of Jesus and to those called Christians. Paul was a zealous person and of the Pharisee sect, which followed the laws of the Jews and their traditions in detail.

Acts 26:10 "Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them."

Paul said I didn't just talk about it, I did the work of the Pharisees. I had the authority from the chief priests to imprison Christians and even put them to death. When the time of trial came, I cast my vote in the Sanhedrin to put them to death. Acts 7 tells us of that great message that Stephen gave before the Sanhedrin, then after the sermon, the Sanhedrin voted to stone Stephen to death, and there was Paul in the middle of the crowd.

Acts 7:58; "And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul [Paul]. This is what Paul is stating here in verse ten. Paul is letting it be know to Agrippa that all of Paul's acts were well recorded in their records in the temple.

Acts 26:11 "And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities."

Paul tortured the Christians to the point they would curse, and it wasn't enough to punish them in Judaea, I hunted them down even in foreign lands. He didn't care if they were men, women or children, they were all drug from their homes, beaten and put in chains, with many stoned to death.

Acts 26:12 "Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,"

I had the legal authority from the chief priests to go to Damascus and was under their commission to gather Christians, and persecute them.

Acts 26:13 "At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me."

This brightness in the Greek is "lamprotes", an extreme brightness. It is the very Glory of God that would warm your heart, and because Paul was the sinner that he was, it scorged him to the point of blinding him. God has nothing but love for His own, and it wouldn't matter if God's wrath came on a whole city around you, you would not be harmed.

Acts 26:14 "And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, 'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.' "

Notice here that Paul is not just giving his own defense, but he is teaching the Word of God. Paul is preaching of the promises of God, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and now in this high court he is going to testify the words of Jesus Christ.

The tongue of Christ and of the angels is the Hebrew tongue. With the voice of Jesus Christ, and the energy from the Holy Spirit Paul was knocked off his feet. Remember that Paul thought that he was serving God. Paul in his heart thought he was doing right right, for he was a good man. However in his training and mind, Paul was taught to go against Christ and Christianity.

There is nothing new under the sun, today there are many that think they are serving God and doing His will, but in ignorance they do strange things against the work of God. While they think they are in God's service but because of their lack of understanding in God's Word they work against God and his Word. God was so opposed in what Paul was doing that Jesus Christ Himself struck him down on the road to Damascus.

The word "pricks" in the phrase, "kick against the pricks" is in reference to the point of center of the sharp point of a cactus needle. When a person kicks against the thorns of the cactus he is only hurting his own foot..

Acts 26:15 "And I said, 'Who art Thou, Lord?' And He said, 'I am Jesus Whom thou persecutest."

Paul has shared this same story with many people over the past twenty years, and the striking of the blindness was as fresh as if it happened yesterday. These words of Jesus had been said many times on all his missionary journeys, in many lessons. Why would Jesus say that Paul was persecuting Him, when he had ascended into heaven? Because anytime you touch and hurt one of Jesus' own, a Christian then you "persecutest" Jesus.

Acts 26:16 "But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;"

When Paul had fallen to the ground, Jesus gave him an order to rise up and stand on your feet. Jesus has a way of making people stand up and acting like men and women of God, and doing the work that he has assigned them to do. Paul's work was to become a witness before many men and women, in establishing churches, and witnessing before the Gentiles, kings and the ten tribes not of the house of Judah [Jews].

Jesus told Paul that these thing that I show you I know you will do, however there are many more things that you will do that I will show you later. Paul was well educated in the Scriptures, and after Jesus set him straight and redirected him., Paul knew what he had to do. God showed him that the very church he had been persecuting was the church that he would have to serve, to be serving the living God.

Friend, have you set your direction of service from His Word, or have you been listening to some traditions of men that go against what God's Word has instructed us in? Where do your instructions come from, God, or traditions of men? Paul thought he was the best servant that God had, and here Paul was actually persecuting God's people and His work.

Acts 26:17 "Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,"

God told Paul that He is going to send him to where ever He choses, and to minister to whom ever I want to. When you get there, you will teach the things that I want you to teach, through the spirit that I have place within you.

Acts 26:18 "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in Me.' "

Friend, this is the purpose of Paul's ministry where ever he went; TO OPEN THEIR EYES, AND TO TURN THEM FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT. Satan is darkness. John the Apostle wrote of this in I John 1:5; "This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all."

I John 1:6 "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:"

I John 1:7 "But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin."

I John 1:8 "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."

I John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

I John 1:10 "If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us."

The whole purpose of God's plan was to open their eyes and allow them to see God's Word, and see the difference between the darkness of the works of the devil, and the light that we can have through the blood of Christ. There are many churches today that think they are serving God, but there is no half way my friend. You are either completely in darkness or you are in the light. When you are not serving God, then you are serving Satan. That is why it is important to know what you believe, and why you do what you do in the service for Him. Our guide had better be the Word of God, and not some traditional text that has been accepted for years.

There are no half way houses in serving Christ. When you give to the service of any person or church that would lead others to the false Christ when he arrives, such as in the rapture doctrine, your service is leading others to the wrong Christ. There is only one way to know whether you are serving God our not, and that is to get away from the traditions of men, and into God's Word. His Spirit will show you the truth.

Acts 26:19 "Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:"

Paul laid out the heavenly vision that Jesus Christ gave him exactly as the vision was given him to king Agrippa. Paul is telling king Agrippa that I was not disobedient unto that heavenly vision.

Acts 26:20 "But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance."

Paul went right back to Damascus after he was healed, and he preached the Word there to the very ones that he was sent to put in chains. Then Paul went back to Jerusalem, and on to the many cities and providences preaching the Word of God that men should repent and turn to God. Let's go over that last phrase again. "and do works meet for repentance." When you repent and do the will of God, the works are the meet, or the joy and fulfilling we get in our hearts in doing His works. It is what makes you worthy of your calling, and your answering to His call. It is through you works that God allows you to have blessings.

This is why it is important to have the tools for study, as you get into the Word of God. The Companion Bible takes you back into the meanings from the Massorah text, as laid out by Nehemiah with not one letter of the word missing. It is also necessary to have a Strong's Concordance numbered to the Hebrew and Greek dictionaries. This is necessary to trace the actual meanings of each word. The 198 Appendixes in the Companion Bible, with all the footnotes allow you to have understanding of the phrases, idiom, and terms of the day that the Words were written. When you study to to know the truth, you are applying "these works meet for repentance".

Acts 26:21 "For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me."

It was for teaching God's Word that these Jews grabbed Paul in the temple. It was for the teaching of the the coming of the Messiah, and repentance through the blood of Jesus Christ that they wanted to kill me. The Kenite Jews were out to defend their religious practice and traditions, and they had plotted and murdered Jesus Christ, and Stephen for those beliefs. Now they are after the blood of Paul for the same religious beliefs.

This is not speaking about the tribe of Judah, but of those oriental Kenites that "came in unawares" and took over the duties of the Levitical priest. I Chronicals 2:55 records how the three families took over the records from the time the house of Judah came out of Babylon, and the books of Ezra and Nehemiah instruct us that the Levitical priests had given the duties of the Priests over to these Kenites while in Babylon. It was the Kenites that were in control of the temple from the very highest positions, and these are the ones that "went about to kill me", Paul is saying.

There were a few of Judah that became involved with the Kenites and doing their work, but basically it was the sons of Cain that claimed to be of Judah, that plotted the murders of all that interfered with their traditions and customs. Jesus talked about them in Revelation 2:9. In the name of religion these Kenites wanted to kill Paul for teaching the Word of God from the Scriptures. Paul made the Scriptures come alive for those he taught.

Acts 26:22 "Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:"

Paul is preaching to a king here and he is teaching nothing but the Word of God. Paul didn't waste is time on what this person said or what that religion thought. Paul stayed right on course in the Word of God, teaching exactly what the Prophets and Moses had written down, as the Spirit of God spoke to them. Paul taught the gospel of Christ from the Old Testament, and it is from those Scriptures that we have the New Testament. If you are getting only the New Testament teaching, then you are being robbed, for it is all important to understand especially in this end generation.

Acts 26:23 "That Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles."

Do you understand what Paul is saying here. He taught the coming of the Messiah and his suffering and death from the Old Testament. He taught the death on the cross and the resurrection from the writings of the Prophets and Moses, and that it would be through Christ's death that we will defeat death and have the light of the world. Paul is telling king Agrippa that this wasn't something new that I was teaching, it was the teaching of Old that I was teaching to the people and the Gentiles.

As Paul was making his sermon of defense before Agrippa, Doctor Luke was sitting there in the court room and taking notes, and that is what we are reading today. This great book of Acts was about Paul and the apostles, at the hand of Luke, so we could understand exactly what the earily church father did and said to be an example to each of us in living our lives. Paul is saying in the court that I didn't teach anything but Moses and the Prophets, and Agrippa knew exactly what was written in the books of Moses, and by the Prophets.

It was from the Old Testament that we are told that Christ should suffer, and that He would be crucified, and rise from the dead. Paul is stating that it was from the death and resurrection of the Messiah, Christ the anointed one that God would give salvation. It is the Old Testament that even gives us the signs and events of this generation that we live in today, and warns us of the coming "instead of Christ", and the deception that will cover the earth before the second coming of Jesus Christ. This is why we are told to seal all of the Scriptures in our mind so that we will not be deceived.

It is even from the Book of Joel in the Old Testament that we were told what would be spoken at the first filling of the Holy Spirit on Pentacost day, as we studied in Acts 2. That was a sample of how it would be when the Holy Spirit spoke through His sons and daughters when the Antichrist would be on the earth. The prophecies of the end times as recorded in the Old Testament are growing closer and closer together today, and we are getting reading for the birth of a new age, yet people prefer to sit back asleep and closed minded to the warnings of the Old Testament.

Acts 26:24 "And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad."

Paul was speaking directly to king Agrippa and what is spoken by Paul is far over Festus' head. Festus just couldn't sit still any longer, and jumped to his feet and interupted Paul with a loud voice. Festus is telling Paul that your books have turned you into madness.

Acts 26:25 "But he said, "I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness."

Can't you see Paul turning to Festus, and in a calm and sober tone of voice tell Festus, I'm not mad most noble Festus, but I could not be any more serious about what I am or say.

Acts 26:26 "For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner."

Paul is telling Festus that the things that I speak, king Agrippa knows all of it. I speak of the things that are written and freely given in the Scriptures, and there is nothing hidden from him or the people. The Scriptures are well known to everyone, they are not hidden in a corner, but read by everyone.

Acts 26:27 "King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest."

Then Paul turned to king Agrippa and said to him, "I know that thou believest the prophets".

Acts 26:28 "Then Agrippa said unto Paul, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."

Paul's preaching from the Old Testament almost persuaded king Agrippa to be a Christian when he heard the words. Notice that Paul has turned from defending himself, to being an advocate for Jesus Christ. Agrippa perceives it, and intervenes with; "To put it briefly, thou art persuading me to become a Christian." There is no grounds in the Greek for supposing that Agrippa was "Almost persuaded.". The word "Christian" was not a word given by the Jews, for the word in the Greek, "Christos" was a sacred word and not to be spoken. Paul was teaching with the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the king had the understanding of what was being said.

Acts 26:29 "And Paul said, "I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds."

Paul responded to king Agrippa's comment about being "almost persuaded" by saying that he wished that all those that were present in the Court and heard the preaching would be as understanding as Agrippa. Paul wanted all of them, Jew and Gentile alike to know of God's love and be of the same mind that he was. Paul wanted them all to have the strength and belief in Christ that he has, but not for the chains that Paul still had on.

Acts 26:30 "And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:"

The king and his wife Bernice and those people of the court pulled away from Paul so he could not hear their conversation.

Acts 26:31 "And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, "This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds."

King Agrippa is telling Festus that Paul has done nothing to be worthy of even being in those chains, or on trial for his life.

Acts 26:32 "Then said Agrippa unto Festus. "This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar."

So here you see the depth, when you see the third level of Paul's teaching. God is directing every thing that is happening and even the council that Agrippa is giving to Festus. God intends to see to it that Paul has a save journey all the way to Rome, and that the Jews laying wait out side the court don't have the opportunity to slay Paul as he leaves.

Paul had an army of four hundred and twenty men protecting him as he left Jerusalem, and now he is going to have protection all the way to Rome. This is an example of what will happen in our generation, for there will have been no crimes committed, and what is spoken is only from the Spirit of God. Paul's crime was not believing in the ways of the world, but believing in God rather then in Satan. God has His ways of protecting you, when you are delivered up.

Peter addresses Paul's teaching and wisdom in II Peter 3:15, 16; "And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you;" [15]

Through all of Paul's writings there is an underlining mystery where there is great wisdom that the Spirit has given to Paul. That mystery was hidden from the foundations of this earth age. Paul wrote most of the New Testament because he had that great wisdom, and it was no accident.

II Peter 3:16 "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction."

Paul spoke of these hidden mysteries in all of his epistles, or letters that he wrote. If a person is unlearned and unstable in the ways of God's Word, he will not understand any of those mysteries. "The other Scriptures" are what the prophets of Old wrote, it is what we call the Old Testament. In all of the writings that Paul wrote there is a underline mystery that is great wisdom for those that take the time to dig for the truth and understanding.

The book of Acts sets for the type and example for us to follow and know as we search for that mystery that Paul reveals through his writings. There is a deeper meaning to all of what Paul says, other then that read by one not searching the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit will reveal that truth to you, and in it is our salvation. To those that are unlearned and unstable and just don't take the time to study, they leave themselves open to their own destruction.

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