Reflections on Paul's Testimony
Earlier this week, our daily readings (encounterbc.org) included Acts 26:15-27. This reading is part of Paul's testimony before King Agrippa. Many rich reflections come from this short passage. I thought I would share some of my reflections as an encouragement that you can have similar reflections as you read and re-read passages like this one. They are in the brackets below.
Acts 26:15-27New International Version (NIV)
15 “Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’
“ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied.16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. [God also asks us to be witnesses of what God has done, is doing and will do in our own lives. That means looking for appropriate opportunities to share our stories. It is a good prompt to stop and think about how God has been at work in our lives] 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ [God is Light and in Him is no darkness at all, as we come into God's light we can receive forgiveness of our sins and the joy, privelege and confidence of being part of God's family. God will be with us and watch over us as He sends us out to bring this good news to others.]
19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. [Let's be obedient to the visions for discipleships, ministry and mission God has given us] 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.[A true repentence, ie a true changing of our minds, will lead to changed deeds - not in any meritorious way but as a natural outcome of a true change of mind (as opposed to a temporary sense of sorrow about something!)] 21 That is why some Jews seized mein the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would sufferand, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”[Jesus is a fulfilment of the story of the Old Testament, he didn't just appear out of nowhere. Sometimes in reading the bible we can be tempted to jump from the fall from the garden in Genesis 3 straight to Jesus. However, to better understand Jesus, we need to grow in our familiarity with the story of Israel in the Old Testament - the daily bible readings are helpful in this regard as they help us get around to reading parts of the Old Testament we may not have read]
24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”
25 “I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. [The life death and resurrection of Jesus were public events that occured within the living memory of many people at the time the events in this passage occured (maybe 59AD). Christianity is not just a set of ideas about how to live life, but it is grounded in events from history] 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”