Acts 26: Witness to a King

How important to Paul’s defense was a respectful introduction?

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Acts 26:1 Agrippa said to Paul, “What do you have to say in your defense?” Paul raised his hand in respect and said,
26:2 “I am fortunate, King Agrippa, to stand before you today, for you to hear my defense against the accusations made by the Jewish leaders.”
King James
Acts 26:1 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
26:2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews.

What would have made Paul aware of King Agrippa’s knowledge of Jewish customs and beliefs?

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Acts 26:3 I am especially thankful because I know you to be well-informed concerning Jewish customs and beliefs, so please listen patiently to what I have to say.
King James
Acts 26:3 Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.

Why did Paul want Agrippa to know about his Jewish heritage?

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Acts 26:4 The Jews are fully aware of my way of life, for I grew up under the customs and beliefs of my own people and then in Jerusalem.
King James
Acts 26:4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews.

What was significant about Paul being a Pharisee?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 26:5 Those who know my history will testify that I was a member of the most strict religious sect, the Pharisees.
King James
Acts 26:5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

Ancient Jews lived in hope of what promise?

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Deuteronomy 18:15 From among your own people, the Lord your God will raise up a prophet like himself. You must listen to him.
Acts 26:6 I stand on trial today because of my hope in the promise God made to our ancestors.
26:7 Our twelve tribes served God day and night for the anticipation of what was to come. Because of that hope, King Agrippa, I have been accused.
King James
Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.
Acts 26:6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
26:7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.

What about Paul’s defense would have made resurrection of the dead an issue?

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Psalm 16:10 You will not abandon me in death nor will you allow your Holy One’s body to decay.
Acts 13:32 So now we bring the good news of the promise made to our ancestors,
13:33 which was fulfilled for us, their descendants, when Jesus came forth from the grave. As it is written in the second Psalm, You are my son. Today I have brought you forth.
13:34 Raised from the dead, saved from bodily decay in the grave, he received the blessing foretold by David,
13:35 as he said in his psalm, You will not abandon me in death nor will you allow your Holy One’s body to decay.
13:36 He served his generation according to God’s will, and then his body was buried with his ancestors and decayed—
13:37 but the body of the one God raised did not decay.
26:8 Why would you think it unbelievable that God would raise the dead?
King James
Psalm 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Acts 13:32 And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers,
13:33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
13:34 And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David.
13:35 Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
13:36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:
13:37 But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption.
26:8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?

Why might it have been important for Paul to make it known that he had been an enemy of Christ?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 26:9 I used to believe I should do everything possible to oppose the authority of Jesus from Nazareth.
26:10 I did this in Jerusalem under the authority of the leading priests and put many followers of Jesus in prison. My vote was against them when they were sentenced to death.
26:11 Relentlessly, I punished them. When I found them in the synagogues, I provoked them to blasphemy. So great was my passion, I pursued them into the outlying cities.
26:12 I was on such a mission when I went to Damascus under the approval and authority of the leading priests.
King James
Acts 26:9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
26:10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
26:11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
26:12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests.

How would you describe Paul’s expression and body language as he told about Jesus appearing to him on the way to Damascus?

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Acts 26:13 About noon, my lord, a light shown from above, brighter than the sun, surrounding me and those traveling with me.
26:14 We all fell to the ground, our heads bowed, when I heard a voice in Hebrew, saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me. It is hard for you to resist my prodding.”
King James
Acts 26:13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
26:14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

How do we know the Spirit of Christ had been working in Paul’s heart earlier?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 26:15 “Sir,” I said, “who are you?” And the voice said, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.”
King James
Acts 26:15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.

Besides his Damascus experience, what might have been the main stories Paul told about his walk with the Lord?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 26:16 Rise to your feet. I have appeared because I have a plan for you to be a servant, telling your stories of what you have already seen and what I will yet show you.
King James
Acts 26:16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee.

Of what value would God’s promise of protection and success have been?

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Acts 26:18 You will open their eyes, turning them from darkness to reveal the light, from the power of Satan to God so they may be forgiven for their wrongdoing and receive an inheritance among those who belong to me by faith.
King James
Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

How do you think Paul would explain his times of pain and suffering as “protection and success”?

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Acts 26:18 You will open their eyes, turning them from darkness to reveal the light, from the power of Satan to God so they may be forgiven for their wrongdoing and receive an inheritance among those who belong to me by faith.
1 Corinthians 11:23 You were taught what I learned from the Lord. On the night Jesus was betrayed, he took the bread,
11:24 blessed it, broke it, and said to his disciples, “Take this bread and eat. This is my body that is broken for you. Do this to remember me.”
11:25 In the same demonstration of self-sacrifice, he took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new agreement sealed with my blood. Whenever you drink, remember what I have done.”
11:26 Every time you eat bread and drink together, you should remember the Lord’s desire to sacrifice himself for the sake of others, and you should follow his example until he returns.
11:27 If you sit at what you call the Lord’s Supper but do not follow his example, you have sinned by voiding the value of his sacrifice.
King James
Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
1 Corinthians 11:23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:
11:24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
11:25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
11:26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

Why might Agrippa have agreed with Paul, that he had no choice but to obey the heavenly appearance?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 26:19 After that, King Agrippa, there was no way I could disobey the heavenly appearance.
King James
Acts 26:19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.

Where and how often do you think Paul told his Damascus story?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 26:20 I first told my story to those in Damascus, then Jerusalem and throughout Judea, and finally to the nations. I preached the need we have to turn from our wrongdoing and follow God, doing good works that show how we have changed.
King James
Acts 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

What might have been the circumstance in which Paul told his Damascus story in the Temple?

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Acts 26:21 That’s why the Jews seized me in the Temple and were about to kill me.
King James
Acts 26:21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.

Why do you think Temple leaders wanted to kill Paul?

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Acts 26:21 That’s why the Jews seized me in the Temple and were about to kill me.
King James
Acts 26:21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.

In all that Paul had suffered and endured, how could he say that God had stood by him “every step of the way”?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 26:22 God has stood by me every step of the way as I continue to tell my story to everyone, both the impoverished and the prosperous, speaking of no more than what Moses and our prophets said would happen—
26:23 that the Messiah would suffer, be the first to rise from the dead, and shine God’s light in a dark world, to both Jew and non-Jew.
King James
Acts 26:22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
26:23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

Why do you think Festus thought Paul had lost touch with reality?

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Acts 26:24 After hearing this defense, Festus shouted at Paul, “You have studied so much you’ve lost touch with reality.”
King James
Acts 26:24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.

On what basis did Paul claim to be of sound mind?

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Acts 26:25 With all due respect, noble Festus, I am not crazy. I speak the absolute truth with complete soundness of mind.
26:26 The king knows what I’m talking about. He’s fully aware of what has been happening, because these things were not hidden from the public.
King James
Acts 26:25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
26:26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.

How might Paul have known that Agrippa believed the Jewish prophets?

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Acts 26:27 King Agrippa, do you believe the Jewish prophets? I know you do.
King James
Acts 26:27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.

Why do you think Agrippa was almost convinced that he should become a Christian?

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Acts 26:28 Paul,” Agrippa said, “you have almost persuaded me to become a Christian.”
King James
Acts 26:28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

Apart from his imprisonment, how would you describe what Paul had, which he prayed would be received by everyone listening to him?

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Acts 26:29 I pray that you and everybody else listening to me go beyond ‘almost’ and become followers of Jesus as I am—except for these chains.
King James
Acts 26:29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.

After hearing his story, what did officials think about the accusations brought against Paul and his guilt or innocence?

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Acts 26:30 His defense now concluded, the king, Bernice, Festus, and others sitting in judgment
26:31 gathered to consider his case. “This man,” they said, “has done nothing to deserve death, not even imprisonment.”
King James
Acts 26:30 And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:
26:31 And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.

Why would an appeal to Caesar make it impossible for Paul to be set free?

Author’s Thoughts
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Acts 26:32 Agrippa looked at Festus. “If he had not appealed to Caesar, we could set him free.”
King James
Acts 26:32 Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.