23The next day Agrippa and Bernice made a big show as they came into the meeting room. High ranking army officers and leading citizens of the town were also there. Festus then ordered Paul to be brought in24and said:
King Agrippa and other guests, look at this man! Every Jew from Jerusalem and Caesarea has come to me, demanding for him to be put to death.25I have not found him guilty of any crime deserving death. But because he has asked to be judged by the Emperor, I have decided to send him to Rome.
26I have to write some facts about this man to the Emperor. So I have brought him before all of you, but especially before you, King Agrippa. After we have talked about his case, I will then have something to write.27It makes no sense to send a prisoner to the Emperor without stating the charges against him.
1Agrippa told Paul, “You may now speak for yourself.”
Paul stretched out his hand and said:
Contemporary English Version. Copyright © 1995 British & Foreign Bible Society. Used by permission.
The brilliant and bold defense of the Gospel by Paul in chapter 26 belongs to the next author. However there is nothing in that speech that we have not heard previously. Whether the audience has been the Sanhedrin Council or the officials of the Roman Empire, Paul talks about his credentials as a Pharisee. He speaks of his powerful and dramatic encounter with Christ. He speaks of his previous life persecuting Christians wherever he found them. How could a man so bent on their destruction have changed so dramatically unless by divine intervention?
Nothing would move him away from the heart of his message that God had raised Jesus from the dead and now called us to be reconciled to him through the sacrifice his Son on the cross. His boldness in the face of threats against his life and the ridicule of those around him did not deter him for an instant. Was Paul a perfect man? Certainly not! Did he have faults like the rest of us? Paul had in fact called out to God that he was a wretched man. This was not false modesty. This came from the very depths of his being. He knew his past but he also knew that he had been forgiven by the sacrifice of his Lord. In this he was unshakable.
At the end of all the interrogations from every source, the official verdict is that Paul deserves neither imprisonment or death. Here we see an imperfect man with a perfect faith that has carried him and will carry him in the future though every danger and trial.
Paul calls us to discipleship. Not to a discipleship without cost but rather a discipleship that gets the attention of our world.
May the testimony of the apostle Paul be a beacon for us as we live out our Christian lives.