Read Acts 26:1-8
26 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You may speak in your defense.”
So Paul, gesturing with his hand, started his defense: 2 “I am fortunate, King Agrippa, that you are the one hearing my defense today against all these accusations made by the Jewish leaders, 3 for I know you are an expert on all Jewish customs and controversies. Now please listen to me patiently!
4 “As the Jewish leaders are well aware, I was given a thorough Jewish training from my earliest childhood among my own people and in Jerusalem. 5 If they would admit it, they know that I have been a member of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of our religion. 6 Now I am on trial because of my hope in the fulfillment of God’s promise made to our ancestors. 7 In fact, that is why the twelve tribes of Israel zealously worship God night and day, and they share the same hope I have. Yet, Your Majesty, they accuse me for having this hope! 8 Why does it seem incredible to any of you that God can raise the dead?
How and with what motive does Paul begin with winsome words and disarming persuasion?
What is he doing in this situation besides seemingly offering a defense of his actions?
What tactics could we learn from even his first couple of verses when we may be communicating with others who may not have a Christian perspective or relationship with Christ?
What type of relationship do you have with God in this stage of your life? How has it been/is it like or different from Paul’s relationship with God?
What does Paul request of King Agrippa?
Read Acts 26:9-14
9 “I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene.[a] 10 Indeed, I did just that in Jerusalem. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers[b] there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. 11 Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse Jesus.[c] I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities. 12 “One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. 13 About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. 14 We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic,[d] ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.[e]’
How does communicating Paul’s past history and experiences help build credibility with his audience?
How does knowing Paul’s hatred toward Christianity before Jesus changed his life, give us the same hope that God can use us?
Do you ever question God’s ability to use your history, your past, your experience with God?
What makes you hesitant or what gives you the boldness to share these things with others?
What has been some of the responses when you do share from your experience with God?
Paul has a very unique encounter with God. Have you ever had a memorable encounter with someone that changed the way you thought or acted?
Have you had a memorable encounter with God that changed you?
Read Acts 26:15-21
15 “‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked.
“And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. 16 Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. Tell people that you have seen me, and tell them what I will show you in the future. 17 And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles 18 to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God’s people, who are set apart by faith in me.’ 19 “And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven. 20 I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do.
What are the steps Jesus asks Paul to do?
What does Jesus say He will do for the people and for Paul?
Why would it be odd that God would choose Paul to send to the gentiles?
When has God asked you to do something that seems odd to you?
What other Bible characters seem to think that God is asking them to do something out of their wheelhouse?
How does Paul indicate that he responded to Jesus’ command?
Read Acts 26:21-32
21 Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me. 22 But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike.”
24 Suddenly, Festus shouted, “Paul, you are insane. Too much study has made you crazy!”
25 But Paul replied, “I am not insane, Most Excellent Festus. What I am saying is the sober truth. 26 And King Agrippa knows about these things. I speak boldly, for I am sure these events are all familiar to him, for they were not done in a corner! 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do—”
28 Agrippa interrupted him. “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?”[f]
29 Paul replied, “Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.”
30 Then the king, the governor, Bernice, and all the others stood and left. 31 As they went out, they talked it over and agreed, “This man hasn’t done anything to deserve death or imprisonment.”
32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “He could have been set free if he hadn’t appealed to Caesar.”
Why does Paul say God protected him up til this point?
Why do we pray for protection from God?
How should we pray?
What arguments does Paul make to these Agrippa and these listeners in verse 22-23.
From what we’ve discussed of Festus so far, why do you think he yells at this moment and accuses Paul of insanity?
What is Paul’s response, and what is Paul concerned about in his response?
What are we concerned about when we are presenting information about our faith to others?
How skillfully can we make our argument of how God has changed us and made us new to a post-christian audience?
What is the conclusion about Paul from these rulers, and why do you think from an earthly standpoint is going to be difficult at this point for Paul?
What is the reason Paul must go to Caesar from a spiritual standpoint?
When has God asked you to do something that is out of your safety and comfort zone in order to reach others for the gospel?
If you haven’t had that opportunity to share with others in recent days pray with your group today that God will begin to give you opportunities to share about Him and the boldness to be obedient in sharing.
Think on This…
When was the last time you had a memorable encounter with the living God? What are some barriers that might be preventing your having a memorable encounter with God happening in your life right now? What are some barriers that prevent you from sharing how God has changed you with other people in your life right now?