Before you give them the gospel, give them pause.

Acts 25:23, 26:1–3, 6–8, 28, 32

So the next day, when Agrippa and Bernice had come with great pomp, and had entered the auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city, at Festus’ command Paul was brought in. …

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.”

So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently. …

And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead? …

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.” …

Then Agrippa said to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

It’s like they’re from two different planets. Agrippa and Bernice (his sister) enter with “great pomp.” Everyone is impressed, of course. Then they bring Paul in and he’s anything but impressed.

Instead, he gets right to work and does what he always does—advances the gospel. His presentation is supposed to be a defense of his actions, but it’s really an explanation of his actions. He’s already appealed to Caesar, so there’s no point to a legal defense anyway. He’s just using this as an opportunity to preach.

He even takes it to Agrippa directly when he says, “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?” Agrippa is smart. He sees right through what Paul’s doing and says, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

But Paul doesn’t want to convert one guy; he wants to convert the whole room. He makes good progress when Agrippa says to Festus, “This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

The element of surprise has, once again, come in handy.

Paul’s “strange” priorities are giving everyone pause. Great pomp doesn’t matter to him. Getting out of jail doesn’t matter to him. This leaves everyone scratching their heads. In combination with Paul’s logic and his evidence, it should draw people to the gospel. As Agrippa said, it almost wins him over.

So, the takeaway word from this lesson is, “pause.” Before someone can come to Christ, something has to give them pause.

They have to become unsure of their world view and wonder about this other view they’re seeing.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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