Almost persuaded

Paul’s passionate testimony before Festus, King Agrippa, and his sister Bernice was probably the clearest presentation of the gospel he had ever made. Paul clearly outlined the steps he had taken to become the man that was considered an outlaw among the Jews and a hero among the many thousands of Gentiles that he had converted to Christianity. The central point of Paul’s argument was that he had encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus, not only proof that he was indeed Israel’s Messiah but convincing evidence that he had actually been resurrected from the dead. Paul described his experience this way:

At midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So I said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” (Acts 26:13-18, NKJV)

Paul’s description of his heavenly vision was likely what made King Agrippa believe he was telling the truth about being converted to Christianity after he had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Paul told Agrippa that he had been arrested for doing that which he had been commanded by God. King Agrippa probably realized that Paul was upsetting the Jews because they didn’t want to admit that they had killed their own Messiah. Paul questioned Agrippa about his faith when he asked him, “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe. Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You almost persuade me to become a Christian’” (Acts 26:27-28, NKJV).

In spite of his convincing arguments, Festus’ response to Paul’s testimony showed that he didn’t believe what he was saying. It says in Acts 26:24, “Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!'” (NKJV). Even though Festus was skeptical about what Paul was saying, he agreed with King Agrippa that Paul hadn’t committed a crime. It says in Act 26:31-32, “and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, ‘This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains.’ Then Agrippa said to Festus, ‘This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.'”

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