In Chapter 26 of Acts, the spellbinding account of Paul’s defense before King Agrippa and Festus takes place.
As you read it, it can bring chills up your back. Just picture yourself there; listening to the riveting testimony from Paul, as he used every ounce of his intellect, and sincerity to try to reach this king’s heart; and those in the room listening, and bring the salvation message to him. This was an encounter of destiny. It was one of Paul’s greatest moments. But, it took many persecutions, sufferings, and testing’s to bring Paul to the place where he was ready to stand and give this testimony with conviction. As he spoke, there was no wasted words, no flattery, no enticement, no double talk. Every word held weight and power, the power of the gospel he had been given to preach.
The pinnacle of the account is within verses 22-29:
Act 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:
Act 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.
Act 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.
Act 26:25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
Act 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.
Act 26:27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
Act 26:28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
Act 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.
Festus could not stand it any longer; with a great cry he denounces Paul as beside himself with madness.
The earnestness and fervor of Paul were so strange to Festus, his doctrine of the resurrection so novel, his manner so sincere, and his testimony so startling, that the Roman could only explain it by a mental delusion. The display of such vast knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures to Agrippa convinced him that intense study resulted in derangement. It must not be forgotten that Festus had just come into his position, and knew little of Paul.
Can anything surpass this reply? It was full of dignity, self-possession, calmness. It was courteous, and magnifies the mistake of Festus, and his error of judgment of Paul.
This is the mistake many leaders in churches and ministries make today; they look, but do not see, they listen but do not hear. Because "they" are self-absorbed with their accomplishments, what "they" are doing, what "they" have done. They will never admit it, but they have elevated themselves into a position "above their fellows". Paul had given all of that up a long time ago. He now possessed something of far greater value; eternal perspective.
The facts Paul cited in his discourse were well known to the king. The prophets, the hope of the Messiah, the death of Jesus, and the spread of the congregations of those who believed that he was the risen Lord.
Then in verse 28 Agrippa gives the startling reply to Paul “Almost thou persuades me to be a Christian.”
Agrippa professed to believe the prophets, yet those very prophets testified to all the facts of Jesus of Nazareth and his claims to Messiahship. The King was deeply moved, as his reply shows.
There is great significance in Agrippa’s statement. He knew very well that the term “Christian” was at that time only a term of contempt, so in his voicing this aloud was in the sense saying “Thou wilt soon have me one of that sect.”
The atmosphere in that room must have been full power and electricity with Paul’s last utterance:
“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.”
Paul's response is courteous, but full of intense confidence, earnestness, and courage; a last effort to save this King's soul, and those standing in the room. His hope was that all who heard, both Jew and Gentile, would receive the free gift of eternal life he offered; as he stood before them with chains hanging upon his arms. How could he say he wished they were altogether as he was, even with those chains holding him? Because he knew his destiny. He knew His God, and His peace ruled in him. His spirit was free.
In this account we are given a great example of what our conduct should be if we face a similar situation. May God give us the courage and boldness shown to us by Paul, to face any circumstance that comes to us in our lives.
(A portion of a Teen Challenge teaching)