Today’s thought: Paul’s defence before Agrippa (November 10)

(An excerpt from Beginning at Jerusalem, by Brother John M. Hellawell, page 317)

“Paul now asks the key question which was the difficulty with which Festus struggled during the earlier hearing, when Paul affirmed that the Jesus of Nazareth whom the authorities had executed was alive again (25:19).

“Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?”

After all, any Jew who read his Scriptures, that is, the Old Testament, would be aware of instances when God had indeed raised the dead (for example, Elijah raised the widow of Zarephath’s son in 1 Kings 17:17ff and Elisha raised the Shunammite’s son in 2 Kings 4:32-37). Even if one disregarded these examples, as the Sadducees did, it was still a vital question: was God incapable of raising the dead? The answer was obvious – of course He was capable!

Agrippa would understand the distinction between the position of the Pharisees (verse 5) and that of the Sadducees, the principal group who were accusing Paul (verse 2 and 25:2).

26:9-11. Paul confesses that he too once was an enemy of the Truth. By reminding his audience of his past way of life, Paul is adding weight to his arguments. Once, he too thought the way that they did. The fact that he had now completely changed his opinions was good grounds for considering his new position carefully.

His persecution of those who believed in Jesus was fanatical. Not only were they imprisoned for their faith but also when a death sentence was sought, Paul assented to it. His zeal knew no bounds: he punished them so severely, presumably by torture, that they were compelled to blaspheme. This would then automatically bring a death sentence. He admitted that his behaviour was obsessive and went beyond the bounds of Israel: he prosecuted them in foreign cities (not just Damascus).”

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Preceding

Today’s thought “Performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (November 10)

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