Paul stands before King Agrippa to make a defense for his imprisonment (due to accusations of the leading Jews).
And of course, as Peter urges us (1 Peter 3: 15), Paul was “always … prepared to make a defense to anyone who asked [him] for a reason for the hope” that was in him.
When Agrippa asks Paul to speak, his “defense” includes the story of his conversion and the Gospel. I love how Paul directly addresses the King several times, as if he hopes that Agrippa will hear and believe.
I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently. Acts 26: 2-3
Agrippa II was part of the Herodian dynasty and a Hellenistic Jew. I love how Paul appeals to Agrippa’s knowledge in order to encourage him to listen – not particularly to Paul’s defense, but to the testimony and the Gospel conveniently included in the defense!
As part of his Damascus Road testimony, Paul recounts what Jesus said to him (the Gospel!):
‘…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: 17b-18
Paul again addresses the king: “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared that [both Jews and Gentiles]…. should repent and turn to God…” (vs. 19-20) He wants to make sure Agrippa listens!
Paul ends his discourse with:
…so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles. (vs. 22, 23)
Finally, Paul addresses the king:
… “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” And Paul said, “Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.” (vs. 27-29)
Paul didn’t do any Gospel arm-twisting. He simply told Agrippa his story and challenged him to consider whether Jesus fulfilled messianic prophecy.
The best part for me is that Paul wants the king to believe in Jesus because it’s the best thing for Agrippa. Paul hares the Gospel so that all might “become such as I am:” forgiven, reconciled to God, and living in the light.
What a great way to share the Gospel!
Dear Lord: Thanks for the Gospel sharing lessons in this passage – and for Paul’s evident care for King Agrippa. Help me to care and share like Paul. Amen.