As we study the Book of Acts, we see the persecution Paul faces. I am going to briefly go over chapters 25 and 26. We see Paul is in Caesarea and Festus, the governor, wants to go see him. The Jews bring a petition to Festus to give Paul over to them so they can kill him. However, Festus wants to see Paul himself in Caesarea.
When Festus arrives at Caesarea to hear Paul, we first see the Jews make their complaints about Paul. If you have been following along with the narrative of the Book of Acts, we see the Jews make countless claims against Paul without any evidence. How angry would you be if someone made false claims against you? Yet we do not see Paul lashing out over this, as he is one filled with the Spirit, he leads by example with the fruit of self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
We see Festus wants to do the Jews a favor, Festus would want to turn Paul over to them. However, Festus knows that Paul has done nothing wrong. Paul declares his innocence and appeals to Caesar. Paul knows that it is God’s Will for him to stand before Caesar. In verses 13-27 we see King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and they want to hear Paul. This is when Festus realized that he should not be sending a prisoner to Caesar without any charges.
In Acts 26:1-23 we see Paul tell King Agrippa about his life before he came to know Christ. He talks about how he persecuted the Early Christians. Then he begins to tell King Agrippa about his conversion. He goes into detail about his open vision of Jesus Christ. He also talks about what he was commanded to do from that vision. Paul had such a powerful conversion, he encountered Jesus Christ. Sadly, today in modern evangelism it is only about getting people to repeat a prayer with little knowledge as to why they need a Savior. This is the main reason why we have so many false converts and backsliders in the church. We need to evangelize people in a way that they have a genuine encounter with the living God. Salvation is only a work of God, not of man’s manipulative techniques.
Paul also talks about what he was commissioned to do when he preached the Gospel. After preaching Christ Crucified, Paul would call people to first repent, and secondly turn to God. Jesus tells us in Mark 1:15 (NKJV), “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”. Repentance is not just being sorry about our sin, it is turning away from it and turning to God. Yes, we still wrestle with sin after we become a New Creation, we still must deal with our flesh. 1 Corinthians 9:27 (NKJV) tells us, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”. Notice here Paul is saying he disciplines his body and brings it into subjection, how does he do that? He does that with his spirit man. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 tells us we are a tri-being composed of a spirit and soul, inside a body. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (AMP) tells us, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].”. It is our spirit-man who is renewed upon conversion. A new creation is like a newborn baby in the natural world, he or she is innocent. This is the same way when we become a new creation in our spirit because our sins have been forgiven because of the finished work of Jesus Christ. We must grab a hold of the power of our New Creation when we walk this walk of faith! Thirdly, after Paul tells people to repent and believe, he also encourages them to “do works befitting repentance”. The word befitting means appropriate to the occasion. Salvation should produce good works; you will know a tree by its fruit!
Lastly, we see Agrippa challenges Paul to convince him to become a Christian. Paul responds in Acts 26:29 (NKJV), “And Paul said, “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.””. This is when King Agrippa and Festus realize that Paul is innocent. But Paul knows God’s Will is for him to appear before Caesar. Paul knows this must come to pass. As we read through the Book of Acts, we should be amazed and inspired by Paul’s trust in God’s sovereign plan.