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Acts of the Apostles: 43 - Acts 24:24-26:32

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Acts of the Apostles

43 - Acts 24:24-26:32

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Acts of the Apostles: 43 - Acts 24:24-26:32

MP4 Video - 1080p (1.74 GB)
MP4 Video - 720p (1.05 GB)
MP3 Audio (32.82 MB)

In this class we will discuss Act 24:24-27; Acts 25:1-27 and Acts 26:1-32 and examine the following: Felix, the governor, frequently meets with Paul and listens to him, hoping for a bribe. Two years later, Felix is succeeded by Festus. Festus arrives in Jerusalem and hears Paul's case. The Jewish leaders insist on Paul's transfer to Jerusalem for trial, but Paul appeals to Caesar. King Agrippa and his sister Bernice visit Festus, who discusses Paul's case with them. Paul appears before Agrippa and delivers a powerful defense, sharing his personal testimony and proclaiming the message of Jesus. Agrippa acknowledges Paul's innocence but finds no grounds for immediate release.


[Darris McNeely] In the last class, we have Paul before this Felix. Remember, Felix means happy. But he wasn't that happy of a guy. He was rather vicious. And now, he has an audience with Paul with his wife, Drusilla, who was Jewish.

Acts 24:24 It says in verse 24, “He sent for Paul and hurt him concerning the faith in Christ.”

So, again, I mentioned that Drusilla was his third wife. She was a daughter of Herod Agrippa, the I. She had broken off an earlier marriage herself with another man. He too had been a king. But he wasn't quite as glamorous, exciting, or whatever, as Felix. And so she ditched, probably a more boring king for Felix who must have been a bit more exciting in her own mind, and perhaps thinking that he was going to go further. And so there was a ruthlessness about Felix in the way he dealt with people willing to power as a governor. She had her beauty and she knew how to use it.

And, you know, we talked about Cleopatra when we were back in Daniel 11, a little bit, the last queen of the south, the last of that line of the king of the south in Daniel 11. And she was a woman who used her beauty, her wiles, her sexuality, to first woo Julius Caesar, and then Mark Antony, bearing children by both of them, and then winding up committing suicide when she and Mark Anthony lost out to Augustus in the civil wars of Rome. Certain women did that then. Obviously, certain women do that today. And they marry power, they're attracted to it. And they use their femininity and everything they have to do this. We were Istanbul Sunday and Monday. And I told the story of Theodora, the wife of Justinian, whom we talked about earlier in Revelation 13, the bear-keepers daughter, who rose to become an empress of the Roman Empire in Constantinople and had more backbone that her husband, Justinian, keeping him from fleeing the city during the Nike riots of the particular time.

And so, Drusilla has used her particular position to do this by marrying Felix. And, you know, she's in kind of a higher status and higher station of life. So what we've got working here, between these two people, was a lot of greed, power, prestige, just plain physical lust, sexuality, and physical attraction, you know, power that is working here. He's the Roman governor in Caesarea. That's kind of a prize. And these are two people that are just caught up in all of that at the time. And, you know, the paganism, the idolatry, and everything else, that was a part of things. The lip service would have been given to them probably. I think in these two cases, they would have probably been just more known for things like this, the physical expressions of their lifestyle, rather than any, you know, piety even toward the pagan realm and the pagan world. So with that as a background, and when you look at verse 25, and you see what Luke records Paul, honed in on, what he hammered home.

Acts 24:25 “As he reasoned, they heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now, as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, ‘Go away. Go away for now. I've heard enough. When I have a convenient time, I will call for you.’”

Paul must have pricked conscience. Paul, no doubt, knew the man's lifestyle. And so, he focused in on Scriptures, maybe from the Psalms, from the Proverbs that deal with, you know, the righteous conduct of a person, of morality, of using power for the good of people, not for personal gain. But most importantly, probably what really got to them as he wove his message there was that the Gospel shows that there is a day of judgment coming, both individually, collectively, and at the level of the nation in the world when Christ comes to judge the world.

And he laid that out. And he was basically telling them, “Look, you might be living this way now, and you've got the power now, but there is another king, and when he comes, you're going to be judged for how you have lived your life, and how you've wielded your power, used that money, and whether or not you've done it righteously.” Well, Felix knew that he had not come anywhere close to anything described in what he would have looked at as the Jewish Scriptures.

And even when it comes down to Felix would have known when it comes to, let's say, that the highest nobility, even, of Roman standards, from an earlier period in the Roman Republic, he fell far short of that too. You know, Rome being this fourth beast and the vicious fourth beast of Daniel 7, dreadful and terrible, iron, and teeth, and gnashing annoying, and all that it was, this iron kingdom... When you know a little bit about Roman history, there were certain noble Romans. In fact, I think it was Livy, a Roman historian named Livy, who wrote a novel or wrote about the lives of the noble Romans who lived up to the certain ideals of the Roman Republic that would have been closer, let's say, to a standard of an accepted righteousness, still pagan, still Gentile, etc., but they would have had a certain nobility. There's one man that we know from the history of the Roman Republic, who used power and then knew how to lay it down. His name was Cincinnatus.

Anybody ever hear the name, Cincinnatus? City of Cincinnati is named for Cincinnatus. Cincinnatus was a Roman general who was called upon, I think, twice, to lead the Romans against their enemy, to lead the army against the enemy. He was a farmer. But he had certain abilities. His real love was farming. But he had the ability as a soldier to lead in commandment, and he won. And on two occasions, he did that. But then on each occasion, when the battle was won, the threat was removed. He laid down his commission, his title, and he went back to farming. Power was not his end result. He didn't live just for that. And so, he has his ideal in history, known as Cincinnatus the general who won and could have become a dictator, but laid down the power and went back to farming.

So there were men like that. George Washington did that in American history. After the revolution was won, he went back to Mount Vernon and became a farmer. Now, he came back later to be the president of the Constitutional Convention and then became the first president. But in between, he went back to farming. And then after he served two terms, he could have gone on to it as many as he wanted, but he said, “Two's enough, I want to go back to Mount Vernon. I wan to farm.” I mean, if you could really go see a good spot, but you won't have time when you're in D.C., it's Mount Vernon where Washington's home is.

And then he died eventually, you know, got sick riding his horse one cold day and got pneumonia and died. But they called Washington the Cincinnatus. They gave him that title. And it refers back to that Roman title there. So Paul here is talking about righteousness and self-control, things that Felix didn't have. But let's say if you're going to be a Christian, we need to obviously live righteously and we need to have self-control. We need to be able to curb our appetites, not be greedy, and not letting lust of any type control our life.

Acts 24:25 It says, “And the judgment to come.”

Well, Felix got it. He was afraid. So there was a spark of conscience about him, but he wouldn't hear anymore. And yet, obviously, and we know he didn't go any further with this because of verse 26, it says,

Acts 24:26-27 “Meanwhile, he also hoped that money would be given by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore, he sent for him more often and conversed with him.” So he brought him back in, but he didn't seem to progress any further, but he was looking for a bribe. “And after two years, Porcius Festus succeeded Felix, and Felix wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound.”

So two years go by. This is this period from 57 to 59 AD. Luke just skips right over. You know, Paul's there. He probably had a lot of time to think through a lot about God, His theology. He's kept at Caesarea, not a bad place to be kept. And it's probably during this time that Luke is with him. And Luke probably, at this time, could very well, and again, we don't know this, but this is speculation, but it's a plausible speculation that this may have been when Luke went to Jerusalem, went to the Galilee and interviewed firsthand eyewitnesses of Jesus's ministry, Mary, perhaps, others who witnessed the miracles, and gathered material for the gospel that he writes. So this could have happened at this particular time while Paul is being held. So two years go by, and another governor comes in, Festus. And so let's continue right along in verse 25.

Acts 25:1-3 “When Festus had come to the province, after three days, he went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem, then the high priest and the chief men of the Jews informed him against Paul. And they petitioned him, asking a favor against him, that he would summon him to Jerusalem while they lay an ambush along the road to kill him.”

Would this have been some of those 40 that had taken the vow? Maybe. They could have been a part of this. But it shows that even two years later, the envy of the Jews has not abated, hasn't gone away. They still want to kill him. Paul's, in a sense, been protected because he's been down at Caesarea, not in Jerusalem. They couldn't get to him.

Acts 25:4-5 “But Festus answered that Paul should be kept that Caesarea and that he himself was going there shortly. Therefore, he said, ‘Let those who have authority among you go down with me and accuse this man to see if there's any fault in him.’”

So, he's willing to allow the wheels of the process to go forward, but he's not doing them any favors. And he's not going to bring Paul up to Jerusalem.

Acts 25:6 “When he remained among them, more than 10 days, he, Festus, went down to Caesarea. And the next day sitting on the judgment seat, he commanded Paul to be brought.”

Probably, you know, a room within, part of the palace, was the audience room for the governor to receive people with petitions, to hear cases, to render judgment. Paul's brought in.

Acts 25:7-9 “And when he had come, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood about and laid many serious complaints against Paul, which they could not prove while he answered for himself, ‘Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.’ But Festus wanting to do the Jews a favor answered Paul, and said, ‘Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and there'll be judged, before him, before me, concerning these things?’”

He wasn't going to dismiss the charges. He knew that he really couldn't do that, it would seem. After two years, there's still a certain level of... What's the word I'm looking for here? There's a certain level of weight to this case. It may not be on the front page above the fold of the paper, but it's maybe on page two, maybe a little bit out of sight, but not forgotten. And politically, Festus can't dismiss the charges. So he offers a compromise. Paul has a choice.

Acts 25:10-11 Paul, in his mind, said, “I stand at Caesars' judgment seat where I ought to be judged. To the Jews, I've done no wrong, as you very well know. For if I am an offender or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying. But if there is nothing in these things in which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them, I appeal to Caesar.”

And with this, the die was cast, the stage is set. There's no turning back. This was a part of the Roman law where anyone could by right appeal to Caesar, appeal their case to Caesar. It didn't mean that everybody got their case heard by Caesar. Not everybody necessarily would have been able to go to Rome to actually have an audience with the Caesars. But that's what the Caesars did. They would set aside time that people, all walks of life, could come and appeal their case to the Caesar. That was just the nature of the Roman system at this time. But when an appeal by a Roman citizen was made, that had to be honored. And so, Festus is bound by that law to do that. There's no real political sedition involved here. And Paul knows that.

And, you know, you have to ask... You're going back to the vision that he had here at the beginning of this imprisonment from Christ when he stood by him and said, “You're going to be witnesses of me in Rome, a witness of me in Rome.” Then after two years, Paul finally comes to the conclusion now that this was the moment to play that Roman Rite and go to Rome. It could be, it just could be that Paul saw, this was the moment, and God led him to make. It was not an impulsive request that he made. I don't think it was at this moment. I think Paul had thought it through. He'd had two years and other conversations with Felix, and he understood the nature of things. And I think that it was a calculated decision that he made at this moment. Festus, he confers with some of his close counselors, and he then comes back.

Acts 25:12 And he says, “You've appealed to Caesar, to Caesar, you shall go.”

And so, that is what is going to happen. Now, before it does, there's another audience in verse 13. And this time, it is some days later, King Agrippa... This is Agrippa II. All right? If you've got your chart, which some of you do, and some of you, I don't know what you've done with it, you don't, but you'll see Agrippa II on there. And he is the son of Agrippa I. He is a great-grandson of Herod the Great. Okay. He's a great-grandson of Herod the Great. That's where it all falls. And Berenice came to Caesarea to greet Festus. So the King who's above the Roman governor, Festus... Keep all the players here. You almost need to play card at this particular point to keep everybody in line as you're reading through this particular story. But here's where it gets a bit interesting. And, again, another example of knowing the backdrop to this, Berenice is his sister. Berenice is his sister. Berenice is the sister of King Agrippa. And they come and they greet Festus. They're kind of making the rounds and visiting. And so, you know, the Roman governor and the descendant of Herod, the King of the Jews here of Judea, while they may not have always liked each other, they needed to work together and they needed to keep up communication and a dialogue. And so, Agrippa's come to the court of the Roman governor in Caesarea.

Acts 25:14-21 “And they had been there many days. Festus laid Paul's case before the king, saying, ‘There's a certain man left prisoner by Felix about whom the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me when I was in Jerusalem asking for a judgment against him. To them, I answered, it's not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him. Therefore, when they had come together without any delay, the next day I sat on the judgment seat, had him brought in. The accuser stood up, they brought no accusation of such things, as I suppose.’” In other words, there was no actionable accusation. “‘But had some questions against them about their own religion, and about a certain Jesus who had died and Paul affirmed to be alive. Because I was uncertain of such questions, I asked whether he was willing to go to Jerusalem, and there'll be judge concerning these matters. But when Paul appealed to be reserved for the decision of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept. So I sent him to Caesar.’”

Acts 25:22 “And Agrippa said to Festus, ‘Well, I'd like to hear this man myself. Tomorrow, we'll bring him in. You'll hear him,’ Festus replies.”

And so that sets up the scene for verse 23. Now, let me make a comment about this Berenice. All right, that's a name you don't hear too often. I always liked Berenice because I had an aunt named Berenice. Alright. But, you know, there's some names... You don't hear Irene anymore. Irene is from the Greek word which means peace. And you don't see too many Irenes anymore, that name being used. And Berenice is one of those. But Berenice was the sister of this Herod.

Now, again, she's one of these powerful women who got around. She was a player. All right? She had had one or two husbands before this. And she is now kind of... Some think that there's this kind of a quasi-incestuous relationship between Agrippa and Berenice. Doesn't seem to be any real proof. But because of the way the Ptolemies acted, remember Cleopatra, she was a Ptolemy. The Ptolemies, when you study their line, the king of the south line, there were brothers-sister marriages. And maybe some of them were consummated, maybe some of them weren't. But that's how they kind of kept their dynasty and their bloodline pure. Berenice takes up this relationship, and whether she's kind of a consort to him or actually, that something's going on, we don't know for sure. Some speculate that there may have been. But she's at this moment...

And it's 59 AD. All right? She's been to Rome. She'd been, you know, kind of the higher circles of the Roman world at this time. And in a few years from here, she will play a very interesting role in the downfall of Jerusalem, because she will somehow dis-attach herself from her brother, and she will become a mistress to Titus. You can tell me who Titus was. He destroyed Jerusalem. Titus was the son of Vespasian. Vespasian was the general who first marched against Jerusalem, trying to put down the Jewish revolt.

The Emperor back in Rome is replaced... They proclaim Vespasian, the emperor, he gives Titus the charge of the armies in Jerusalem to finish the job of destroying and stopping the riots there. Vespasian goes back to become emperor, Titus then heads up the armies. And he will be the one to destroy Jerusalem in the year 70 AD. But at the time of that Jerusalem burning, Titus and Berenice are having an affair in Jerusalem. You know, she's supposed to be of this line of these, you know, quasi-Jewish, the Herodian line, and more, you know, aligned with the Jewish people, because of their titles. But she's now consorting with Titus, the Roman general, who's destroying the city.

And there's a story that she actually shaves her head and goes down into the precincts of the city, the streets of Jerusalem to beg the chief of staff of Titus not to burn the temple, not to burn the city. She goes barefoot and with her head shaved, a sign of penance, humility, but he won't listen to her. You know, they set the city aflame, destroyed the temple anyway. Well, she kind of, you know, gathers herself and she even goes... She goes to Rome for a time with Titus, but they don't like her because she's from the East. Romans were pretty picky about the women who hung around their generals and their Emperors. And so she kind of comes to an ignominious end. But now she's here in front of Paul. So these people were very powerful. They were very conniving and they managed to find themselves in interesting situations at times.

Acts 25:23-25 “The next day when Agrippa and Berenice had come with great pomp and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus's command, Paul was brought in.” She's brought in, there's the audience room, a lot of people, and now Agrippa and Berenice are going to hear from Paul. “‘King Agrippa and all the men who are here present with you.’ Festus says, ‘You see this man about whom the whole assembly of the Jews petition me, both in Jerusalem, and here, crying out that he was not fit to live any longer. But when I found that he had committed nothing deserving of death and that he himself had appealed to Augustus, I decided to send him.’”

Now, Augustus, as it is used here in verse 25, is the title of the Caesar. And at this time, I believe we're at the time where Nero, this will be the Caesar that Paul does appeal to, is Nero. Put that name on the board because you might find that on a test somewhere someday, Nero. Nero was the emperor who fiddled while Rome burned. And he will be the one who ultimately will kill Paul, cuts his head off, and Peter too. And so he's the one that Paul... The emperor that Paul appeals to is Nero. The emperor that Paul appeals to is Nero. You got that? Okay.

So understand that. And he's the Augustus. Who can tell me what the title Augustus comes from? Sage? It comes from Augustus Caesar, but where did it come from before it was given to Augustus Caesar? Anybody remember? Yes, ma'am. What's that? He was a Savior. But where did the title reside before it was given to a Roman Emperor? It was a religious title. It was a part of the pagan religion cults. And so it gets transferred to Caesar, to first Octavian. He's the one who's called Augustus I.

So what you see it here in verse 25, he's appealed to Augustus. But that's not the Augustus Caesar who founds the Empire. That's, at this time, Nero, but it's one of the titles of the Roman emperor.

Acts 25:26-27 “So I decided to send him, but I have nothing certain to write to my Lord concerning him. Therefore, I brought him out before you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after the examination has taken place, I might have something to write. For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him.”

And so, in verse 26, then, just continuing right along in this audience.

Acts 26:1 “Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You're permitted to speak for yourself.’ So Paul stretched out his hand.”

And that's a common oratorical flourish of the Greek and Roman world that if you were to address a group of people, you would stretch out your hand. You often see statues of the elite and the Roman statuary, and a hand extended like that. And so, literally, they will do that. And Paul, no doubt, did the same thing. It was a custom.

Acts 26:2-3 “He said, ‘I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today, I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I'm accused by the Jews, especially because you are expert in all customs, questions, which have to do with the Jews. Therefore, I beg you, hear me patiently.’”

That's his handshake. That's his opening comment. And he says, “I'm happy to be here and I'm happy to talk about it. And, you know, please hear me and patiently consider what I have to say.” So there's a measure of humility. It not a pompousness with which he begins. And this is a major defense speech that Paul makes here. And they began back in chapter 22, but there's another one in chapter 24 and now here in chapter 26. So it's the third major defense that Paul makes. And by that, I mean, an explanation of who he is, what he's doing. And in this one, there are more details of the Gospel than the others in this here. And there's also a third repetition of his conversion on the road to Damascus.

Acts 26:4-6 He says, “My manner of life from my youth which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all Jews know. Matter of record, they knew me from the first. If they were willing to testify that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived a Pharisee.” So here he gets into a little autobiographical information. “And now I stand and judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers.”

So it goes back to, in a sense, Genesis 12 where God made a promise to Abraham, you know, “Get you to a country that I will show you, and I will make of you a great nation. And in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Paul is connecting himself to that.

Acts 26:7 “I am judged for the hope or the promise made by God to our fathers, to this promise, our twelve tribes earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain.”

Interesting comment. Think about that. For this promise, our 12 tribes, not just two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, primarily composing Judah, at the time of the 1st century.

Remember the other 10 tribes? What happened to them? By Syria. Yeah. The so-called lost 10 tribes. Paul speaks of them as if they are not lost, but they are. They earnestly serve God night and day, present tense, hoping to attain. To the promise, what do they want it to attain to? Verse 6, the promise, the promise. And that's it. I mean, the promise is the kingdom. The promise is a kingdom of priests, that when God led them out of Egypt, and he first said to him through Moses, “I will make of you a kingdom of priests and kings.” And that's the promise, Peter picks that up and he repeats it as well as he talks to the church. It is the promise of eternal life. It is the promise of that kingdom to come. It is the promise of the restoration of all things.

That's their hope. That's what they've hoped Jesus would have restored in His ministry. But he said, “No, not at this time.” But it's still the hope. Paul preached the Gospel of the kingdom.

Acts 26:7-8 “And so, why should it be thought incredible to you that God raises the dead? So, for this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I'm accused by the Jews. Why should it be thought incredible that God raises the dead?”

Now, keep in mind, it was the resurrection that caused the stoics, the Athenian philosophers to shut down when Paul came to that back in Acts 17. They didn't want to hear any more of his message. And when he was in the temple of being arrested and he talked about the resurrection, that divided the Sadducees and the Pharisees. The Gospel inherently brings out this truth of the resurrection. We've just kept the Days of Unleavened Bread. Christ was resurrected after three days and three nights, right in the midst of the Days of Unleavened Bread, accepted by the Father as the wave sheaf offering. And that resurrection, His life, is by the means by which we have salvation. And it's very interesting here in verse 8 and 9, we don't always kind of connect this to the larger story of Israel and God's unfinished business with Israel. These tribes earnestly serve God day and night, in verse 7, hoping to attain to that hope. They didn't get to it then. Paul brings that out in Romans 9, 10, and 11. And they haven't come to the fullness of it yet. That unfinished business is part of the Gospel and the understanding of the promises to Abraham.

Acts 26:9-14 “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. This, I also did in Jerusalem, and many of these saints, I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests. And when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.” So he's going back again, repeating the story of his calling. “I punish them often in every synagogue, compelled them to blaspheme. Being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities. And while this occupied, even as I journeyed to Damascus, with authority and a commission from the priests, at midday, O' King, along the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun shining around me and those who journeyed with me. When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me, saying in the Hebrew language, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

And this is, again, the third time Paul tells the story of his calling, his conversion on the road to Damascus. But this is the only one where he mentions it's hard to kick against the goads, hard to kick against those goads, which was a well-known expression at the time to talk about someone's opposition to God, resisting the will of God. And so he uses it here. It's a Greek-oriented audience. It comes from the Greek world. They would have known this expression. And so, he kind of very cleverly brings it in at this point, as he has a Greco-Roman audience primarily in the room here, as he talks about God questioning him on this.

Acts 26:15-18 “And so I said, ‘Who are you Lord?’ And He said, '’I'm Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Rise and stand on your feet. For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister, and a witness, both of the things which you have seen, and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you to open their eyes in order to turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith from me.’”

And so it's a pretty strong message that he gives to them here.

Acts 26:19-20 “And therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first those into Damascus, and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do work befitting repentance.”

You know, this last phrase of verse 20, “Repent, turn to God, do good works,” to kind of summarize it down. Repent, turn to God, do good works. Kind of summarizes how we should live. Turn our life around, get it aligned with God, do good works, turn to God. Do good things. You know, this is a better phrase than Garrison Keillor and his Lake Wobegon line, “Do good work.” This is a pretty good summation of how we are to live before God.

Acts 26:21-23 “For these reasons, the Jews sees me in the temple and tried to kill me. Therefore, having obtained help from God to this day, I stand witnessing both to small and great, saying, no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come. But the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

This is, again, a pretty powerful message that includes all nations, all peoples, all ethnicities in this whole setting here, that he would be the first to rise from the dead.

Acts 26:24 “Now, as He thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, '’Paul, you're beside yourself. Much learning is driving you mad.’”

Much learning is driving you mad. This is kin of how you feel after you get to this point at ABC. Much learning is driving you mad, right? You've had it up to here and you're ready to get on with the rest of your life. I understand. But we've got a few more days. We're going to finish all of this. Mr. Myers is going to finish Hebrews with you and Dr. Dunkel with everything else. So, hang on for a few more days. Trust me, you're not the only one that's ready to move on too, okay? We on the faculty get to this point, and it's time. Where's that next class? Let's get that next class in here. So, no, we don't say that. But, you know, it's been a long year, and much learning has taken place. Hopefully, we're not mad. But Festus, the governor, kind of interrupts.

Acts 26:25 “And he said, ‘I'm not mad, most noble Festus, but I speak the words of truth and reason.’”

You know, there's a sermon right there. The words of truth and reason. That's what I'm speaking about. Pretty powerful. You know, Pilate asked Christ, what is truth, when he was before him. At the time of... What is truth? And, you know, I talked about that in a sermon when we were over in Indianapolis. Truth is... We talk about the truth. We keep the truth. We obey the truth. And we do. But truth is more than just 20 fundamentals. Truth was personified by Jesus. And the way He thought and lived and acted and His whole persona was truth.

And, you know, keeping the Sabbath, tithing, baptism, and all that we believe which are true, and what we may call the truth, are...they're all important. But as we do those things, they should then transform us inwardly to be people of truth. And that doesn't mean that we're just Sabbath keepers and we go to Jekyll Island and have a Feast of Tabernacles. It's more than that. It is the truth about God. It is the truth about life, and what we are to become, and how then we are to think, and really do treat one another to where, you know, we're not driven by greed, and lust, and power. But we're driven by love, and joy, and peace, and the fruits of the Spirit.

Those are the words of truth and reason. Speak to that in terms of how we live. Christ healed people, He fed them, He taught them, He rebuked. He fashioned a whip on one occasion and drove the money changers out of the temple. That was a pretty strong action. That was an action of truth. You know, some might interpret that as an action of violence. But He was cleansing His father's house, He said, right? But that was truth in action. Where He moved on evil. He moved on a perversion of a holy thing, the temple, and human corruption of it by actually literally overturning tables, maybe causing a bruise here or there. And you think that whip might have hit somebody? I kind of think it did. I think maybe somebody, you know, got a little bit of sting on it and it caused them to get out of there.

I don't think he did that just to kind of stand there and, you know, whip it back and forth like Indiana Jones did and, you know, make a big pop and a crack. I tend to think that, you know, he lashed out at some people in a way. But that was truth because he was cleansing the temple and he was making a point that you don't do that before God. We don't treat the holy things of God with contempt and bring them to our level. To speak the words of truth and reason, and to live truth, and to be people of truth goes far beyond these things that, you know, we kind of tick off our list and that we believe and do. And he's talking to a man of power, a woman here, who trusts in her beauty, Berenice, and her wiles, and her cutting, and her ability to manipulate men.

I mean, for her to have taken up with Titus, look, Titus could have had any woman he wanted. But that she managed somehow to get herself into his court, into his bed speaks as much to her cunning, as to her sexuality. You have to understand that about those things about people, not only them, but even today, that people will use those things to those ends. So Paul is drawing to a point here.

Acts 26:26-27 “The king before whom I also speak freely knows these things. I'm convinced that none of these things escapes his attention since this thing was not done in a corner. They knew about Jesus.” They knew about the empty tomb. They knew about the events that took place at his death. “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.” he said.

And I think that he put an emphasis on at that point that “I know you believe.” Do you believe? I know that you believe. This was not a weak conclusion that he was coming to

Acts 26:28 “Agrippa said to Paul. ‘You almost persuade me to become a Christian.’”

This is an intense exchange at this moment between Agrippa and Paul. Paul has built it and he's kind of, in a sense, taking a moment to not maybe try to make the closure, but not knowing that he probably won't. But he's got the boldness to say it and he knows that he can say it and he can get away with it. He can get away with it. I know you believe. “You almost persuade me to become a Christian,” he says.

Acts 26:29 “And Paul said, ‘I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today might become both almost and altogether such as I am. Except for these chains.’”

And with that, he might have had a little kind of a, you know, except for these change chains, you know? Agrippa, really, the ESV version of this verse 28 puts it this way, “In such a short time, you almost persuade me.” In a short time, one speech, 20 minutes, 40 minutes. How long was it? “In a short time, you almost persuade me.” And Paul's answer is basically short time or long, you know, 15 minutes or 50 minutes, I pray that, not only you, but all who are listening today may become what I am. That's really what Paul was saying when his translation is really understood, that you would be like I am, except for these chains. And he makes a point to the king that, “You've got me chained up. And you're responsible for that.”

Acts 26:30-32 “So when he had said these things, the king stood up as well as the governor, and Berenice, and those who sat with him, and when they'd gone aside, they talked among themselves.” So they kind of go out to where they can have a private conversation. “This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains. Then Agrippa said to Festus, ‘He might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.’”

And they could not break that. That was the law of the Romans. And they had come to at least the conclusion that he's done nothing worthy of these two years in prison. “He can be set free, but he's appealed to Caesar. So we are going to have to honor that.” And so, Paul is off to see the wizard. And that's where we'll pick it up in chapter 27, and take Paul on to this great journey across the Mediterranean to Rome.