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The Trial Before King Agrippa

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
September 29, 2020 8:00 am

The Trial Before King Agrippa

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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September 29, 2020 8:00 am

In this corner: Agrippa II, king of Israel; son of Herod Agrippa, who imprisoned Peter and killed James; great-grandson of Herod the Great, who massacred babies trying to kill Jesus. And in this corner: Paul; a Jew from Tarsus; a prisoner, a troublemaker, a chronic nuisance for two Roman governors. Is this a fair fight?

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In this corner Agrippa to King of Israel, son of Herod Agrippa, who imprisoned Peter and killed James the great grandson of Herod the great who massacred babies trying to kill Jesus. And in this corner, Paul, a Jew from Tarsus, a prisoner, the troublemaker, a chronic nuisance for two Roman governors. Is this a fair fight. Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically the next 25 King Agrippa pays a visit to the new governor in Caesarea gets drawn into the controversy surrounding certain prisoner for the third time Paul faces the Roman authorities to present his case.

Let's listen now to Dr. Boyce returning to a rather large section of the book of acts the accounts of the appearance of the apostle Paul before King Herod Agrippa. The second, which begins on the 25th chapter of acts at verse 13 and continues the whole way through the end of the next verse 26 chapter it's a section so long that it would seem desirable to divide it. And yet, as has been the case in other sections of this book that we've studied earlier. It's a section that clearly belongs together and is therefore best considered as a unit.

So that's what we turn to to this the third of the formal offenses of the apostle Paul before the authorities subsequent to his arrest in the city of Jerusalem. This one was before King Agrippa rep. I was the great grandson of the Herod of the Gospels and the son of the Herod who had arrested Peter was not an illustrious ancestry. But as one of the historian us has said, compared with his predecessors. This man was pretty good is not much to say about him, but he was not guilty of some of the atrocities that his father was guilty. Al Gore, especially his grandfather was guilty of true he was living in an assessment dress relationship with his sister Bernice, which hardly commends them as a model of virtue.

But as far as we know, we didn't go around killing people and there was at least this in his favor. He did understand the situation, which is how he gets into this matter of the trial of Paul pestis. You recall the new Roman governor had inherited Paul from his predecessor Felix, Festus was the new kid on the block there to establish and maintain Roman justice but he didn't understand the ways of the Jews very much. Here was this man Paul in prison brought there because of accusations made by his own countrymen, which when he investigated them turned out to be such a confusing religious nature. This Roman governor really couldn't understand what it was about to make matters worse in the middle of the trial as it was drawing to conclusion. Paul appealed to Caesar and pestis.

Maybe somewhat opportunistically seized upon that because it got him out of the fix and said well give appealed to Caesar to Caesar you will go to say here was an excuse prisoner that it was now his duty to send to the mighty monarch of the Roman Empire and what was he going to say in the documentation that necessarily had to accompany all the wrong. What was he accused of.

After all, why should he bother the this powerful busy man with these religious trivialities which you couldn't even understand himself. Furthermore, testimony of his predecessor Felix before him is that this man had done nothing wrong, nothing that would merit is being put to death, and as he looked at it, it seemed to him that that was the situation also. So what's he going to do send ball of the Emperor saying there's no real accusation against him. At least none that we can understand. And besides what we do understand whether this is nothing to it that would possibly merit your attention is that you try to do that this ban pestis was really an effects now.

It was at that precise moment that King Agrippa and Bernice arrived from their capital to the north accessory had to pay their respects to the new Roman governor.

Very appropriate thing to do, Festus recognizing that here in this descendent of the long lines of the Herod's was a man who at least understood something about Jewish law and customs in the spirit of the people that it was now his responsibility to govern said to him now, because of man here that has been accused of things by his countrymen the Jews they want and put to death. But as we looked into it, we can find anything really merits death. I wonder if you would take time. Since you're here in Caesarea. This man and listen to him and then afterwards you tell me what's this all about and how can I formulate a letter of accusation to accompany them when we send them off the wrong and Agrippa said he would be glad to hear Paul and so the scene is set for this third of Paul's defenses. Now there was a defense in acts 22 before the Jews.

The steps of the praetorian player in Jerusalem. I was a Jewish defense that it was couched in Jewish language. And then there was the defense before Felix much abbreviated that one was before Roman governor Roman defense sure you have very unique events between a man who was on the side of the juice and yet at the same time was obviously on very good terms with wrong it's perhaps because of that is Luke tells it here and actually gives this account in the fullest measure.

By this time we quoted a number of times. This is Paul's defense for his life just testimony. And we've seen it historically and I where Luke gives the account of his conversion, and then he stole it twice already and then this is the third time that Paul makes his own defense and as a matter of fact later on in Paul's own writings such as the third chapter of Philippians we have again we might say this point. Well now why we getting this all over again and we harden that we don't happily know the facts. Currently, Luke thought it was worth repeating and testimony that Paul gave on this occasion finally is will recall before King's which the Lord Jesus Christ and promised him he would do as he gave testimony before King's on this occasion, it's something that we need to hear how the setting is worth looking at before we plunge into what Paul says directly, we are told about it. Beginning in verse 23 and it's still the effect that the number of very important people came together people that were important in terms of their position in terms of their power. That is, they came together they came together with great pomp or pageantry by were given to alliterative servants you would hear a five point there people the positions the pump, the power of the pageantry that is something that Luke, the author is certainly calling our attention to Agrippa and Bernice are there.

King and his Queen governor, Festus was there for high-ranking officers. The reference here is to the commanders in charge of the cohorts of Rome stationed there in Caesarea. There were five of them at any given time, so there at least by high-ranking officers of the Roman army present and then also the leading men of the city wrap some of the retired military personnel, but most of the merchants, those who would have money and be in positions of great authority all least important people came together all of the powerful people were present. And as they collected, they did so with great pomp word is used there in verse 23 and undoubtedly with great pageantry, which is what it's referring to is an interesting scene incident. Here are the important people of the world with all the power of all or pageantry arrayed on one side and here on the other side brought out perhaps without even much warning or opportunity to prepare a defense. This little Jew from Tarsus apostle Paul, perhaps even with bad eyesight. If we are understand that swimming maybe as he looks up into the faces of the mighty one a lopsided contest all of the power all of the position. All of the pump and hears Paul another. But you know there's an interesting thing. Sometimes I often say you don't have to know Greek to understand the Bible and you don't even have to know what the preacher don't tell the professors in the seminary. I said that but it's true.

All the same and sometimes it helps a great deal and it does help here in reference to this word pump that I referred to several times re-languages the word Fantasia and it's where we get our word fantasy, and the idea you understand that when I begin to show how the word developed is that which is light and fleeting and passing that which is of a moment only.

I don't know because, of course, that was the word blue Use.

I don't know whether you have this in his mind, but he probably didn't in any rate, we can hardly escape it. That all of these important things so the world all of the position on the power and the pageantry only passing things when you see them in history at any given moment. It would look like as much stable. What could be more stable, more impressive, more weighty than the Roman Empire and those representatives here in Judea yet says Luke. All fantasies all things that are going to pass away and it did pass away. The Roman Empire passed away all of the people here passed away in the pageantry, the pop passed away before the last out the day they took down the flags. No one homes all over but you see the gospel of Jesus Christ which the apostle Paul was called to bear witness prevailed in the prevailed not only on that day because it was the truth that it was spoken prevailed in the decade to come. In the decade after that the century that followed in the millennium. After that, in the gospel of Jesus Christ is here with us in power today, and Rome is just a memory. Biting along those lines, I think of that great verse in Rudyard Kipling's recessional of 1897.

The two vaults from the shouting dies, the captains and the kings depart still stands line ancient sacrifice, humble and contrite heart, Lord God of hosts.

Be with us.

Yet as we forget, we forget we apostle Paul was not about to forget the apostle had been called by God and he knew it he had been given a commission and he understood his commission and so he wasn't about to be overpowered by the power of the pageantry and he began to tell a story that we are aware already of how we did it whenever he told it historically. Generally, it had three parts of this is life before hand. In Judaism he talks about that in verses four through 11. He next tells of his conversion of his commission to preach the gospel to the Gentiles the discusses that in verses 12 through 18, and then finally in this somewhat new and interesting way. He tells about his Christian witness.

That is, after having received his commission where he went, what he did and what it was his habit to say and he talks about that in verses 19 following Look over it. We tend as we come to this to say what we've heard a lot of this before and it's true we have yet to Lucas repeating.

It is obviously repeating it for our benefit. So let's look at it again as he desires us to do. Paul talks about his life in Judaism money is concerned.

The stress here is that he was a faithful Joe. He received the traditions of his father's. He knew the law and so far as you know we live by the moreover he lived by them according to the strictest sect of the religion of his day. He was a Pharisee talked about it before we have a bad view of the Pharisees because some of the things Jesus said about them. He called them hypocrites. Why did Walt seek call them sepulchers with pain on the outside and dead men's bones corpses with him and that is true. Many of them are that as a matter fact is a description of the race where all like that in their day the Pharisees had a good reputation because they were what we would call let's call it by its right name.

They were the fundamentalists. They were the evangelicals of their day. They're the ones who said we believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and everything that is written there.

We believe they really did, at least so far as they understood it and so did Paul. Paul's defense at this point has to do with the fact that the only things he proclaims are the things that work in the law well understood by all the Jews of his day, at least those that believe the Old Testament Scripture say well what does that involve he says the chief that you say is the promise of the resurrection.

He interrupts his address at this point to say is it very wisely. Why should you consider it incredible that God should raise the dead, no doubt going to see later on in the story.

His Gentile hearers didn't consider it incredible people to consider it incredible day. Paul was a Jew.

In this respect, raised in the Scriptures and the Pharisees at least though they have modernist liberals and their day in the body of the Sadducees. But the Jews as a whole and the Pharisees. In particular, did Lisa believe in the supernatural. So he says that's where I came from and Joseph they would hear and if they were willing to testify about. It could say in those days I was at least a model you and I understood those days as they still think it their duty that what I needed to do is persecute the Christians and stamp them out because this doctrine of they are centered in the Messiah as they called it.

This man Jesus was contrary to Judaism, but any tells about his conversion, and it's the same sort of thing, which in our own ways, each of us ought to be able to claim if we have truly met Christ set I was on the way to Damascus and this very one about whom the Christians had been preaching, but whom I had regarded as a blasphemer, a liar and deceiver this very Jesus stopped me cold on the way to Damascus to persecute the Christians and he made himself known to me. He asked me why I was fighting against the goats. No doubt the perks of conscience and I had nothing to say. I said who are you, Lord, and he explained we was set on Jesus whom you are persecuting. No in the history of religion since that day. There have been a number of attempts to explain what actually happened to the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus, eliminating the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ second person of the Trinity, the son of God, Jesus of Nazareth.

Our risen from the dead actually appeared to him. Some of said said quite seriously that Paul probably had epilepsy here on the road to Damascus. He had an epileptic fit. Some have said well the sun was bright it was in the heat of the day. He mentions that here. No doubt he had a son stroke while I think of those things that I remember what Harry Ironside says when he deals with those arguments in his selection of sermons on the book of acts. He said if that's what epilepsy accomplishes all have epilepsy because it turned a man who was a persecutor into a servant of God and witness to Jesus Christ.

He said if that's what son so causes. Let's all have son stroke because that's what we need and then I guess at a bit of whimsy.

Ironside said.

And you know I'm really willing to admit that a sunstroke is exactly what is the hat as long as you spell it SOM instead of SQ and he was struck by the son of God, you been struck by son of God, as he stopped you where you are. You may not have been engaged in a career persecuting Christians. Maybe you were just engaged in a career of serving yourself and turning your back upon God, the Lord Jesus Christ stop you on that Damascus road that he turn you around apostle Paul was turned around he could testify to it, and if the Lord Jesus Christ to stop you and turn you around then you can testify to it me or if you are not testified to it, or if you feel you can't examine yourself and see whether you really have a Jesus, you say, but I know a great deal about them. And after all of your church work and I hear better preaching here.

The 10th Presbyterian Church. You will get by me with your flattering the question is not, do you know about Jesus but have you met Jesus. Jesus stopped to where you are. As he turned you from your sin as he revealed himself to you and have you come to trust him. Possible hat and it made all the difference. While the third part of this defense before King Agrippa has to do with his service for Christ.

Following his conversion stresses a number of things here and there things we can each apply to ourselves. Although in different ways. First thing he stresses is his obedience, though he catches it in the -1st 19 so then King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision of heaven on the first box of our diversion is that we obey Jesus Christ. One might even say the first mark except faith as a result, and perhaps that proceeds though the two obviously are linked we will bang Jesus.

Jesus said why do you call me Lord Lord known to the things I say you are disobeying him you're not his disciple. If you're not is discipling about say that you met him well. You've heard his voice and people know heard the voice of Jesus Christ just do not ignore it really hard and he is the master. He's the king. He tells you what to do must be obeying Paul was.

Secondly, he talks about the scope of his ministry and as he talks about it. What he really indicates here is that it widened and widened as God worked through him to reach others began*verse 20. That's where he was converted and so he gave his first witness there in Jerusalem which is where he went next, then to Judea and then finally to the Gentiles also interesting here in the 26 chapter of this book after we been through all the stories of the expansion of the gospel that we find the apostle Paul describing his ministry.

The spirit of his ministry in almost the same terms with the Lord Jesus Christ first spoke when he was giving a charged of the disciples even before Pentecost first chapter of acts, verse eight says you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth that is what Paul was doing, why because he was obedient to the Lord and that is precisely what the Lord Jesus Christ said his people are to do 30 says when he talks about his service to Christ following his conversion is that he preach the gospel. I want you to see the terms in which he talks about this ball of courses presenting the gospel here in the context of his own life story to these important people are listening. This is of the license a way in which he wants to preach Christ to them. But notice how he says in verse 23. All he preached is what the prophets had already said would happen, and which had happened, namely Christ would suffer as he would die there is a testimony of the atonement. Jesus by his death suffered for our sin. And secondly, that he would rise from the dead, and that is what had occasioned all this turmoil and then thirdly, that being risen from the dead he would proclaim likes to his own people and to the Gentiles. Undoubtedly, through witnesses like the apostle Paul and others. That's the gospel say. Well, now that's the gospel. But what is our response to it to be and he gives that as well. He says when he preach to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent number one and number two turned to God and number three prove their repentance by their deeds. Repentance means to turn around you're going in one direction when you turn around go the other direction.

See equivalent of conversion which means the same thing will happen. The ball of the road to Damascus.

He was set in one way and God turn them around and he went another way, and that's what needs to happen to everyone who would find salvation in Christ.

But at the same time turning from our way turning from sin and going in the other way means turning to God Second thing Christianity is not just negative.

It's not just stop settings, not just abandon your current lifestyle. Christianity is above all a positive thing and it means spine righteousness in Christ and find a lifestyle and him something only different but better turn to God. And then, as Paul also says it's interesting to find it here that as he preach the gospel. He also said, bless there be anything like cheap grace are easy repentance are mere verbal profession. He said proof that it's happened by doing good works. How do you know if you're Christian you know it simply because you can file the right things. Well, hardly you can for yourself and mouthing almost anything you know when your life is changed and when you begin to do good works.

That's the proof of it.

When you begin to follow after Jesus Christ. When you obey him when you do what he told you to do and see if that's the case that this is the most radical thing that could possibly be proclaimed in all his long as Paul was merely speaking here of his life and what Festus said and King Agrippa might conceivably regard as merely religious ideas are as Festus said philosophy well who cares whatever is proclaim.

Nobody cares much about philosophy you're talking about a gospel centered in the risen Lord someone who lived in history was crucified rose from the dead and now commands his followers to turn from sin to God and to do works of righteousness.

Well, then, is radical and that of course is what stirs the opposition did on this occasion, Paul didn't even get to finish though.

No doubt he was near the end of his address Festus who had been listening all this time.

This Roman governor interrupted and said all you are of your mind. Never heard anything as crazy as that in his life. I guess he be willing to hear Paul talk about a resurrection of some far off future day of that's conceived metaphorically as the fact that well maybe in the afterlife. We have to answer for our deeds. Even the pagans had some sense of retribution in that respect. But to say Paul wasn't talking about that Paul is talking about a present resurrection resurrection that it happened in history difference in his life and to make a difference in the lives of those who met Jesus Christ that was absolutely intolerable.

Festus and incredible as well.

You must be crazy Paul.

He said nobody can believe that our live by that in this world and so he dismissed the gospel and perished because of it.

Then Paul, who all along have been addressing Agrippa turned to him.

He does a very neat little transition here replying at the start Festus, but quickly switching over to Agrippa saying the king that is King Agrippa is familiar with these things so I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this is escaped his notice because it was not done in the corner, King Agrippa Preaching for life change. He said do you believe the prophets do acquainted with what Moses says the law you know what the later prophets have written you understand these things and furthermore this was not done in the corner. All of this, the concerns Jesus of Nazareth is come to your hearing testimony to his resurrection. You believe those things. I know you do what you say King Agrippa still had his position to worry about the Festus it was, I suppose the pride of intellect. How could any Roman governor believe in anything this crazy is a literal resurrection. But with Agrippa wasn't that Agrippa probably believed in the resurrection with him Position he just couldn't humble himself, he who was the king and come down like anybody else to receive Jesus Christ as Savior confessing himself a sinner turning from his sin to God and so we dodged it.

He was put on the spot. Embarrassed, no doubt before the governor what he said was, do you think that in such a short time, you can persuade me to be a Christian and he rose and left.

Like the governors he perished without Jesus point of all that is that that is precisely what men and women do today when this supernatural gospel crucified and risen Savior is proclaim the gospel that demands that we turn from sin to God and begin to show our conversion by good works. The world puts up barriers and rejects it.

For precisely these reasons, pride of intellect I could possibly believe that anything like that, though it's not all incredible. As Paul says that God should raise the dead, or pride in position why to do that I would have to abandon all this status that I have and I'd have to become like those Christians is not true you're not a Christian you look in your own heart that those are the things that keep you from bowing your knee before Jesus Christ pride than a lecture. Pride of position that intellect passes away and the position passes away all these things fade. What did Jesus say he who does the will of my father abides forever. Everybody once the last everybody wants to be around when it's all over. Jesus is the way to do that is by joining yourself to me.

I'm the eternal one. I died for you that you might have eternal life. What you must do is turn from your sin, you must believe in May and then you enter into a life which is not only blessed now though there may even be suffering connected with it only blessed now, but a life which is going to be infinitely blessed beyond the grave and all that you see everything you see in the past away. You know Lord had a way of putting it very strongly and he said I hope you think about it. What is a man prophets. If he gains the whole world now, and yet loses his soul (our father we know the difficulty we see it in ourselves and we certainly understand it in the lives of those who have not yet found Jesus. It's the difficulty of trying to evaluate these things. When the only criteria we have at our sin of the world's criteria. We want power and prestige from pomp and pageantry and position and on the other side. What we see is a crucified Savior or father is the Savior is the Lord is God. All these other things that we think are so important of past away. Jesus will remain in some of those who are united with him through the spirit of truth to speak to the hearts of those who listen. They might find the truth and finding the truth might also find grace to turn from their sin to Jesus a man you are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce Lister supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Aiken and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You could also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103 or you can visit us for Canadian gifts mail those 2237 Rouge Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON M1 C2 line 9 ask for your free resource catalog featuring books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and theologian. Thank you again for your continued support and for listening to Bible study hour

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