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The Scriptorium

Who's on Trial Here?

Paul takes the stand. Acts 26.1-32

The Trials of Paul (13)

Pray Psalm 107.1-3.
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
And gathered out of the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.

Sing Psalm 107.1-3.
(Faithfulness: Great Is Thy Faithfulness)
Lord, You are good, we give thanks and we praise You!
Your steadfast love will forever endure.
Let the redeemed, who from trouble You rescue,
gather and say that Your mercy is sure!
Refrain vv. 1-3
Lord, for Your wondrous works, and for Your steadfast love,
we give You thanks, we exalt Your great Name!
We who from east and west, north and south gather,
boldly redemption in Christ we proclaim!

Read Acts 26.1-32; meditate on verses 12-32.
Paul was glad to be able to testify before the king (vv. 1-3). He raised a pertinent question concerning the resurrection (v. 8). God is certainly capable of such a feat, as we see in the Old Testament prophets (with which Agrippa was familiar). The point of Paul’s detention had nothing to do with the temple or Jewish Law. It was about Jesus and the resurrection, so Paul got right to the point with Agrippa.

In verses 12-23 Paul recounted his experience of coming to Christ and the mission to which the Lord appointed him. It was because he was obeying a vision from the Lord that he was detained by the Jews (vv. 19-21). But Paul insisted on the truth of the Gospel (vv. 22, 23).

Festus blurted out in verse 24, which outburst Paul regarded as an interruption in his message to the king (vv. 25-25). Notice how Paul quickly dealt with this interruption, then got right back to his message, calling on Agrippa to think through all that he knew about the prophets, and to consider the “truth and reason” of what he proclaimed.

We begin to see that this isn’t about Paul. Not anymore. It’s about Agrippa. The king is on trial here: Will he bring to full fruition what he’s known so well all these many years (vv. 26, 27)? Agrippa deflected Paul’s pressure by suggesting that the apostle couldn’t really expect him to become a Christian – how’d he know that word, we wonder? – in such a short space of time (v. 28). But yes, in fact, Paul did expect it, at least, he hoped it earnestly. Paul pleaded with the court, not to vindicate him, but to reason through what he had said and embrace the Gospel: “Become like me, a Christian!” (v. 29)

The king was either uncomfortable or he’d heard enough to know that Paul had done nothing deserving detention, much less judgment. He could have been set free (v. 32), but Agrippa sent him to Rome, as he wished.

 Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
“Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints!” (Ps. 31.23)

In this passage there are two examples of extreme love; the kind of love that exists because of God. The first example is this: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 26.14, 15). Jesus is so embedded and invested in us that when we are persecuted, Jesus feels it! Can we even comprehend that? I find it overwhelming. He experiences the pain we are experiencing. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4.15). He takes our problems to heart, understands us, and loves us. Deeply.

The second example of extreme love is from Paul: “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” (Acts 26.29).
There he was, fettered and unfairly judged, and his main concern was the salvation of those who were hearing him then, and for those of us who would hear him later. Paul loved us too.

Paul didn’t let his ego get in the way of his ministry. Festus called him crazy (Acts 26.24). If anybody wasn’t crazy it was Paul. He was the sharpest knife in that drawer, and yet, for everyone’s sake, he stood there and took the abuse. “For the love of Christ compels us” (2 Cor. 5.14). Indeed it did.

We are loved so dearly by God the Father: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you…” (Jn. 15.16). And by Paul. And by all those who came before us, who lived and suffered and died so that this Good News would get to us.

Who is waiting to hear about this amazing love from us? Do we have this same extreme love for others? Love that looks a little like the undeserved love that has been shown to us? “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5.8). That kind of love.

Jesus says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (Jn. 14.15). And loving those in our Personal Mission Field is an excellent way to show Jesus that we love Him. Because He loves them, too. And is just as invested in them as He is in us. And Paul showed us how to do it.

We, too, are being sent by Jesus “to open their eyes, in order to turn them 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 Me” (Acts 26.18).

We are called to imitate God’s demonstrated love! (1 Cor. 11.1)

For reflection
1. How can you grow in love for the people in your Personal Mission Field?

2. What can you do throughout the day to remember how much God loves you?

3. Whom will you encourage today to realize more of the love of Jesus?

Paul urged that it was the concern of every one to become a true Christian; that there is grace enough in Christ for all. He expressed his full conviction of the truth of the gospel, the absolute necessity of faith in Christ in order to salvation.
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 26.24-32

Pray Psalm 107.33-43.
Read quickly over Psalm 107.4-32. Which of those vignettes best describes where you were when Jesus found you? Praise God for His sovereign greatness and His saving mercy. Offer yourself to Him as a living sacrifice, and call on Him to meet your needs today.

Sing Psalm 107.33-43.
(Faithfulness: Great Is Thy Faithflness)
You make the desert a river o’erflowing;
You make a wasted life fruitful and strong!
You bless the hungry with fields for the sowing.
Bless and increase us who to You belong!
Refrain vv. 1-3
Lord, for Your wondrous works, and for Your steadfast love,
we give You thanks, we exalt Your great Name!
We who from east and west, north and south gather,
boldly redemption in Christ we proclaim!

When we are low, are oppressed and in sorrow,
You pour contempt on our fierce, angry foes.
We will rejoice at the hope of tomorrow:
He shall be wise who Your steadfast love knows!
Refrain vv. 1-3

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website, www.ailbe.org, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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