AM June 19th Acts 26

June 19th  

12: Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 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. 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. 15: And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. 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; 17: Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 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. 19: Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: 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. 21: For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. 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: 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.

Paul appeals to Caesar

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. 25: But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. 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. 27: King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. 28: Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. 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. 30: And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: 31: And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds. 32: Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.

Paul continues with his defence by explaining his conversion experience. He says l went all the way to Damascus with authority and a commission from the chief priests (The men stood against him now) He says, l saw a light brighter than the noon day sun shinning all around me. They all fell to the earth but the voice spoke only to Paul. The voice spoke in the Hebrew language – Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? it is hard for you to kick against the pricks. Paul answered who are you Lord? And the answer came back. I AM Jesus who you are persecuting. Get up and go into the city and it will be told you what you are to do. Paul got up and found himself blind. The Lord promised revelations and deliverance from Israel and the Gentiles. Now says Paul l was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. He said, l preached in Damascus and at Jerusalem and throughout all Judea and then to the Gentiles that they should repent and turn to God and do works meet for repentance. (This is the Gospel of the kingdom) It is for these reasons that the Jews want to kill me. God has helped me to serve him until today, witnessing to small and great and saying nothing except what Moses prophesied would happen, that Christ would suffer and that he would be the first to rise from the dead and that he would bring light to Israel and to the Gentiles. Festus finally interpreted him saying Paul you are out of your mind, your learning has driven you mad. (The message of Paul seemed so completely the opposite to what Festus understood) But Paul responded, I am not mad most noble Festus, I speak the words of truth and l do it with a very clear mind. I know that you know all these things because none of this has happened in secret. It all happened in the full blaze of public knowledge. Then Paul feeling the moment pushed his point home. King Agrippa do you believe the Prophets? There was a moment’s silence, and then Paul answered for him. I know you do. Then Agrippa answered him. Paul you almost persuade me to be a Christian. Paul quickly answered him. Oh l would to God that not only you but all that can hear me today were completely the same as me in this apart from my imprisonment. The King rose and took Bernice and those who had gathered with him and when they had gone out they talked between themselves saying. This man is innocent of any crime and has done nothing worthy of death or imprisonment. Agrippa said to Festus He could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar. (Of course he would have been assassinated by the Jews if he had not)

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