We skipped a few chapters of the Book of Acts to get here. In those chapters, Paul found himself in yet another riot. He was arrested and protected by Roman guards, especially when they realised he was a Roman citizen. He used those rights, and said he wanted to take his case all the way to the Emperor, Caesar.
While he was waiting for that chance, he ended up at a hearing with two powerful leaders – King Agrippa and his local representative, who are trying to figure out if he’s a criminal or someone needing protection, and how to avoid embarrassing themselves by sending him to Caesar without a clear sense of what he’s been arrested for. So, he was given the opportunity to tell his story:
 “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them.  And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities. “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests.  At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me.  And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’  And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.  But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,  delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you  to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ (Acts 26:9-18 ESV)
This is his story of conversion, from violent persecutor of Christians, to peaceful promoter.
It’s this story that gave him commission to bring the good news about Jesus specifically to the Gentiles, the non-Jewish people he could never have associated with before becoming a Christian.
It’s this good news that turns people from darkness, forgives sin, and gives them an eternal relationship with God that transforms and makes them holy.
Question: What strikes you about his speech so far? Is he defending himself, or preaching the same message that got him in trouble?
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]
Two Dates to Remember:
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