Acts 26

As we near the end of this study on Acts, it is time to remind the reader that this IS the origorginalinal church. It has morphed into what we call “church” today. Acts does not give us a bulletin of the how a service should go, but then, a personal relationship with Christ is just that; not a routine. When it becomes a routine, we better understand the statement “morphed.”

The first 26 verses in Acts 26 is Paul’s defense:

  1. The complimentary “honor” to be in front of King Agrippa
  2. Paul’s credentials as a Pharisee, Roman, Jew, and now a believer in The Way
  3. His past as a Sanhedrin zealot persecuting members of The Way
  4. His transformation and encounter with Jesus on the Road to Damascus
  5. His call to bear witness of God and his unfailing efforts to so do.
  6. [T]his arrest for doing what? Following God?

The thankfulness to be standing and presenting his case in front of King Agrippa was in contrast to the flattery presented by the Sanhedrin hired lawyer (Tertullus; Acts 24). Paul realized that he did not have to explain to an outsider (Gentile) Jewish laws. Agrippa was the son of Herod the Great therefore an Idumaean; a descendant in the line of Esau. This too makes him a direct relative of Abraham and one familiar with Jewish customs. In a real sense, a distant cousin to Paul himself.

Act 26:22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass.

Paul sets his defense upon doing nothing outside the laws of Rome, laws of Moses, and teachings of Judaism SINCE the life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah. Paul once again sides with the Pharisees in supporting the “first to rise from the dead” that person being Jesus. Remember that the Pharisees believed in an after-life and a resurrection. This was not so of the Sadducee. Since there is no objection or discord mentioned at this trial like it was in Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin must have been less than by-partisan. Perhaps they did not bring along any Pharisees to this trial in Caesarea. The lack of disagreement among Paul’s accusers suggests this to be the case…no Pharisee present when Paul stated the resurrection of Jesus.

It is of particular interest per the exchange between Paul and the interruption of *Governor Festus in versus 24 & 25. Paul had just stated in 23b that the Messiah (Jesus) must suffer and, that by being the first to rise from the dead, HE [Jesus] would proclaim [the gospel] salvation to both OUR PEOPLE and the Gentiles.” Governor Festus, a Roman Gentile, probably reacted to OUR PEOPLE as explained in the above, reacted to the fact that Gentiles were included in Paul’s mission and vision. He said that Paul is out of his mind; too educated.

*During his administration (56 – 61 C.E.), Jewish hostility to Rome was greatly inflamed by the civic privileges issue. Feelings were aroused which played an important part in Governor Festus decision-making.

However, Paul responds by deferring his reply not to Festus, but to King Agrippa, an Edomite and one familiar with Jewish customs (Acts 26:26). Paul immediately turns to King Agrippa asking him if he believes in the prophets of which he had full knowledge and as Governor Festus did not. This was probably very *embarrassing to Agrippa. If he replied that he did believe in the prophets, which he most likely did, his Gentile counterpart in Governor Festus may have reacted as skeptical per the King who was also appointed by Rome

.hell*Sadly this is true of many “almost believers.” Sitting or standing among others and to say I want to believe would be drawing attention, pro and con, to one’s actions or response to the gospel message of salvation. How eternal to desire not to be a spectacle in an-other’s eyes only to exchange it for eternal destiny to hell.

Paul realizes his hesitance. He points out that his question is to all present and not present in verse 29. In a sense he takes the burden of the question off Agrippa’s back or shoulders and qualifies it as a question for all to answer.

Then comes the famous reply by Agrippa in the next verse (v28): “Would you in such a short time think you have convinced me?” The convincing had nothing to do with Paul’s guilt or innocence, but his appeal to Agrippa’s Jewish background and Jesus the Messiah; becoming a Christian or member of The Way. There is a well known psychological probability that when cornered or trying to hide something from an-other’s question, s/he avoids answering by ask a counter-question in reply. This is how Agrippa responded.

Agrippa and Festus go into a private conference and conclude that Paul is guilty of breaking no law be it Roman or Jewish. These two rulers represent both the Gentiles (Festus) of that time and the Jews (Agrippa). They both avoid having to deal with it during a time of tensions between the Romans and Jews by deferring to Paul’s appeal to the Emperor in Rome. They excuse their inaction by say…”If it were not for Paul’s appeal to Caesar (Emperor in Rome) he could be set free.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
December 2018

Now What?

WashingtonThe zeal with which the Christians addressed the political atmosphere over the last year seems to have been unparalleled in past elections. Editorials and expressions of opinions, which were based on fact or fiction, were scattered throughout the populace. It was the hope of the expositors of personal belief that there would be a turning from confusion to a certainty of belief based upon their understanding of the Word of God. These agents of zeal should be commended for their efforts to try and stabilize this country of shifting moral and ethical standards.

The question is, was their motive one of self-interest or was it in the interest of the Body of Christ? Were they directed by God or was it a promotion of their agenda? How big a role did the Christian community play in the Presidential Election? Now that it is over, can the Body of Christ say in confidence that the reelection of our President was the will of God? Local churches throughout the land held prayer vigils to petition God to have the right man elected. Are we to assume that the prayers were heard and that the reelection of the President to another four years was the answer to the petitioning saints? If the Church believes the wrong man was elected, does that mean their prayers went unanswered?

To many Christians, there seems to be a glum and doom atmosphere; depression to some, and human prophesy of difficult days ahead by others. Some Believers are using carnal weapons of fiery darts to fly accusations toward the duly elected President. The pre-election zeal of Christians has become the post election standard of behavior. Instead of bringing healing to our land, the Believer continues to keep the wound of separation open.

Why are we surprised at the way this country is going? Are we so ignorant of Scripture that we fail to recognize the signs of the end of the age? The Church needs to recognize that we are in the last days and what is needed is not offensive behavior, but zeal to lead people to God through His Son Jesus Christ. If the Believer would spend as much energy on representing the Kingdom of God as he does in opposing political agendas, there might be enough Believers in this country to vote responsibly and thus give this land an extension of life expectancy.

Every Christian needs to understand that the powers that be are “ordained” of God. (Rom. 13:1) It is imperative we understand that God has everything under control. God loves this country [its people], but He will also chastise it. How He will do that is not to be a concern of ours. We are called to be a witness of His love, not a rod of judgment. We are called to be a peace maker, not a tool of division. We are not called to expose the obvious, but to present the hidden treasure of Jesus Christ. Abortion is wrong, new birth is right. Homosexuality is wrong, joined to Christ is right. Artificial highs are wrong, overdosed in Jesus is right.

Let this country hear that there is an answer to its problems. It is not by hearing what is wrong with it, but rather how right it can be when it returns to its Creator.

Paul Hoffmaster

Paul Hoffmaster

Egypt? Yemen? Tsunamis? Libya?

What in the world is going on?

What in the world is going on? Is this a sudden drive for nationalism and democracy in these Arab worlds’ or is there something more sinister? Is it in scripture? Did God warn or try to alert us to such happenings? As Christians we are not to be negative, add to the fire and fear or be personally fearful regardless of whatever is going on. At the same time, we need to be alert and prepared. Let me explain.

Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 are parallel chapters. These three different books discuss the same topics; Jesus’ teachings and prophesies, AND, end times. This is not a time or place for discussing doctrine such as pre, post, mid, or “a [non]” anything. However, the Bible does tell us to be alert and the signs of end times will be as obvious as are the seasons. Alert to what?

Disclaimer: All three of these “synoptic” books in the New Testament attest to Jesus’ insights as he teaches one last time prior to his crucifixion. This time is referred to as the Sermon on the Mount [of Olives]. He answers questions posed to him by his disciples on issues of prophecy. Good men today disagree as to the timing of events on this earth, mankind and end times, but the fact remains, Jesus states emphatically that these end times will come. Believers will disappear from the face of the earth, chaos will result, and the people remaining on earth will try to return to a normal life; but it won’t happen!

Every serious student of prophecy is typically able to defend or make a strong case for his or her particular view of the sequence of end times, but once again… well, let’s look at it from The Book of Luke. Luke 21:7-8 states, “Teacher, when will these things happen? What will be the sign that they are about to take place.” Jesus is quick to reply and rather than directly answer the questions of his disciples he offers a caution: “Watch out that you are not deceived. Many men will come in my name claiming ‘I am he.’” [When this happens] “The time is near. Do not follow them.”

His answer is in contrast to being direct. Jesus gives us a strong clue as to what will be going on around us at the time we “draw near” to the end times. “Watch out…” But, he doesn’t stop here. The contrast to a direct answer to the disciples’ questions is Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32; only the Father knows when.

This does not change the fact that events will happen to give us clues as to when the end time is drawing very near. Jesus says these things MUST HAPPEN; Luke 21:9b. But the first part of this verse is what we as Christians can universally hang our hat on; “When you hear of *wars and revolutions, do not be **frightened.” As a theologian and researcher I find the word “fright or frightened” interesting. In the King James we find the phrase “fear not” 74 times and “be not afraid” 46 times. In the Greek it can mean to “cause one to fall.” To fall? Might this relate to being faint or weak-hearted? You decide but don‘t dismiss it. It is a caution from Jesus himself.

*Wars [Greek: polemos] a single or multiple conflicts; upheavals; revolts.
** Frightened [Greek: ptoeho] to draw back as when one is frightened; cause one to fall

This is very assuring when we read Luke 21:14a; “make up your mind (when? NOW!) not to worry.”

Luke 21:25 states, “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea.” This isn’t intended to drive you to the Weather Channel but it is a thought. Jesus is again the author of these words. Different translations say it a multiple number of ways but all come to the same conclusion; something is or will be quite wrong and unusual.

It is particularly fascinating to read the next two verses in Luke 21; [v26] “Men will faint in terror, apprehension of what is coming of this world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” [v27] “AT THAT TIME they will see the Son of Man coming” [where?] “in the clouds.” Nothing is stated here that Christ will plant His feet on earth… “they will see” [Greek: optanomai] as in gaze in awe with wide open eyes. Who is ‘they?’ From my best guess [J.I.V.] it is those who did not either expect or believe in Jesus Christ, or his return.

It isn’t the purpose or intent of this article to “preach” or teach a certain doctrine. It is to point out that Jesus himself said in Luke 21:34-35 “Be careful or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and anxieties of life. That day (end times or Christ’s coming?) will close on you like a trap. Be always on the watch, and pray that YOU MAY BE ABLE TO ESCAPE ALL THAT IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN.”

Perhaps this last statement in verse 36 is why Jesus prefaced his answer to the disciples’ questions with Luke 21:9 “When you hear of wars and revolutions, signs in the sun, moon and stars. These things must happen first.” This doesn’t in any way mean to gather in some jungle in South America or some mountain top and wait. Jesus does say at the end of verse 9 “…but the end will not come right away.”

Now you know the Rest of this Bible story as it regards these rumors of wars, unrest and anxieties in this world. You decide. But before you do, read  1 John 4:1-3 and Matthew 24:25-27.

jStark3=Dr. J