Reading through the Bible together
Never could Paul have arranged a meeting with the governor and the king to hear the gospel. But God can arrange anything. King Agrippa was knowledgeable about all things Jewish, so Paul could have spoken openly and directly to the legal issues which supposedly brought him to trial. But instead, Paul told his conversion story beginning as a member of the Sanhedrin, sent to hunt and destroy Christians, to an apostle of Jesus, appointed to seek and save that which was lost. He sought to impress on the king and those present, the radical change of a man once full of self-righteous hatred for others whose eyes were opened to the vast ocean of God’s love. Those present knew of Jesus and His followers, but they had never heard the story that changed everything for a man who held their rapt attention. A light brighter than the sun? A voice addressing him by name? A commission to reach the Gentiles so they may turn “from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith” in Christ? What a remarkable story!
Then, Paul made his appeal: “I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision,” he said. He started sharing Jesus immediately, everywhere he went. That’s why the Jews wanted him dead. But all he did was help fulfill what “the prophets and Moses said would come—that 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” (v.23). In other words, Paul is not making this up. This was God’s plan centuries ago, so that all people “should repent” and “turn to God” (v.20). At Paul’s crescendo and appeal, Festus interrupted, probably a bit embarrassed by the power of this prisoner commanding everyone’s attention. Paul politely told the governor he was telling “words of truth and reason” (v.25). Then, turning to the king, he made his last appeal: “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe” (v.27). When the king said that Paul almost made him a believer in Jesus, the apostle, with genuine pathos, articulated his wish for everyone within the hearing of his voice that day, to become as free and joyous in Christ as he was—in spite of his chains.
King Agrippa was the last of the Herods. Never again did a Jewish king have as great a chance to repent.
Jesus had once said: “You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you” (Matt 10:18-20). This is what happened that day.
Ron E. M. Clouzet
NAD Evangelism Institute Director
Professor of Ministry and TheologySeminary, Andrews University