Saturday, March 3, 2012


We get Paul’s conversion story twice – Luke tells it in Acts 9 and then gives Paul’s account in Acts 26 as he stands before Agrippa.

It doesn’t change – of course, it was written down by the same man, who heard it several times over the years. It pretty much matches what Paul himself wrote through his letters.  I like the one before Agrippa best.

Some friends from church visited Israel and walked on what was purported to be the same floor in Caesarea .  When I saw their pictures, I thought of this scene. Festus had travelled from Caesarea to Jerusalem and listened to the Jews’ request to have Paul brought Jerusalem – not for a trial, but to be waylaid along the way.  Instead, Festus, new to the province, invited the accusers to return with him. They did, and couldn’t prove anything against him.

Paul then made a response to the charges that changed the course of his life:

For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar. (Acts 25:11 KJV)

Had any of the charges been provable, Paul would have died. If he were turned over to the Jews in that court, he would have died. By appealing to Caesar, as a freeborn Roman citizen, he gained protection – and imprisonment.

Before that chapter ended, Paul was brought before Agrippa and was able to give his testimony, his witness, his reason for calling Jesus Christ Lord and Savior.  Part of his testimony was how he treated Christians:

I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 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. 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. (Acts 26:9-11 KJV)

Then he gave his conversion, then scriptural reasons for the Messiah’s coming, a reversal of his entire life, but Festus didn’t understand.  Paul knew Agrippa did.  He knew Jewish history, Jewish scripture, Jewish beliefs. Well enough to understand what Paul gave was truth.  Enough truth that:

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

I fully agree, even today, with Paul’s answer to Agrippa – and to all who hear the gospel:

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. (Acts 26:29 KJV)

That’s why we give testimonies.  That’s why we witness.

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