19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.
You can see the progression in Paul’s ministry – he started in Damascus, then went to Jerusalem and all Judea, and finally to the Gentiles in various missionary journeys. How might God be preparing you through what you are doing now for new challenges in the future?
21 That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”
Paul’s message was simple – Jesus was Messiah and he died and rose again for all humankind. As he says in 1 Corinthians 2: “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” We follow him (salvation) through turning away from our sins (repentence) and turning toward him and becoming more like him (sanctification).
24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”
25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied.
Do any of you find this response as humorous as I do? The man has just called Paul insane, but Paul replies by referring to him as “most excellent Festus.” When they went low, Paul went high! ☺
“What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”
28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
29 Paul replied, “Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”
I love Paul’s boldness. In one sentence he expressed his hope to see the people he was talking to come to faith and also reminded them he is still locked up. He could have been bitter at them for not letting him go, but he demonstrated kindness toward them. I believe that the courage and tenacity that was found in the Apostle Paul is available to us today! Because it was given to him through the Holy Spirit.
“For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7