NOVEMBER 24 - Nº 328 Acts 25:13 – 26:21
When Rome expanded its control along the eastern Mediterranean shores, the Jewish countries previously known as Israel and Judah became part of the Roman Empire (see #208 - July 27). Although these countries (now called provinces) were ruled by Roman governors, the empire allowed them to maintain their own identity and to have their own puppet kings. One of these kings was Herod Agrippa II. Shortly after Festus was installed as the new Roman governor of Judea (see #327 - November 23), King Agrippa II and his sister Bernice came to welcome him. While the king was there, Festus brought up Paul’s case. He needed advice from someone in authority who understood Jewish Laws and customs. He explained that the Jewish leaders were demanding the death penalty for Paul, however he was baffled by the charges they brought against him. “Their case rests on disagreements they have about their religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claims is alive,” Festus said. “I have no idea what to do! I asked Paul if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial there. But he refused and made an appeal to go before the Emperor. So, he is still in prison here until I can send him to Rome.” The case interested King Agrippa, so he asked Festus if he could hear Paul tell his story. Festus agreed and planned the meeting for the next day. King Agrippa and Bernice entered the meeting room with great fanfare. They were escorted by many high-ranking military officers and prominent men from Caesarea who had come to hear Paul as well. When they were all seated, Festus brought Paul in. The governor explained that the whole Jewish community in Jerusalem and Caesarea had petitioned him to put Paul to death. “But I can’t find anything he has done that is worthy of death,” he said. “And now he has made an appeal to go before the Emperor, so I must send him. However, I have nothing definite to write on his indictment. It would be unreasonable to send a prisoner to Rome without specifying the charges against him. So, I am bringing him before all of you—especially before you, King Agrippa—so that you can help me know what to write.” Paul opened his defense by addressing the king, “I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today, since you are an expert on Jewish customs. Please listen to me patiently.” Paul realized what an amazing opportunity God had given him to share the Gospel with so many extremely influential people. So once again he boldly shared his entire testimony: how he had been brought up as a devout member of the Pharisees; how he had persecuted the Jews who accepted Jesus as their Messiah; how he had then met Jesus on the road to Damascus (see #294 - October 21); and how God had sent him to be a witness to both the Jews and the Gentiles (see #295 - October 22). “I was obedient to God and that is why the Jews now want to kill me!” he explained.
Paul’s testimony always included three parts: (1) his life before he met Jesus; (2) how he met Jesus; (3) how his life changed after he believed that Jesus had died for him and risen from the dead. Take a minute and think through your testimony. Can you share these three parts of your story in a way that will help others understand how great God is and how they can have an eternal relationship with Him?