Acts 26: 19-32
“Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles,that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”
Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind!” But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. 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.”
And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.” Then the king rose, and the governor and Bernice(Agrippa’s sister) and those who were sitting with them. And when they had withdrawn, they said to one another, “This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.” And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.– (Image above is the auditorium where Paul was defending his case before Agrippa and Festus in Caeserea. It is still standing today.)
˜ Charles Spurgeon ˜
Why was Agrippa only almost persuaded? One answer is the person sitting next to him – Bernice. She was a sinful, immoral companion, and he may have rightly realized that becoming a Christian would mean losing her and his other immoral friends. He was unwilling to make that sacrifice.
ii. On the other side of king Agrippa sat Festus – a man’s man, a no-nonsense man, a man who thought Paul was crazy. Perhaps Agrippa thought, “I can’t become a Christian! Festus will think I’m crazy too!” And because he wanted the praise of men, he rejected Jesus. “Alas, how many are influenced by fear of men! Oh, you cowards, will you be damned out of fear? Will you sooner let your souls perish than show your manhood by telling a poor mortal that you defy his scorn? Dare you not follow the right through all men in the world should call you to do the wrong? Oh, you cowards! You cowards! How you deserve to perish who have not enough soul to call your souls your own, but cower down before the sneers of fools!”
iii. In front of Agrippa is Paul – a strong man, a noble man, and man of wisdom and character – but a man in chains. Does Agrippa say, “Well, if I became a Christian, I might end up in chains like Paul! Or at least, I would have to associate with him! We can’t have that – I’m an important person!” “O that men were wise enough to see that suffering for Christ is honour, that loss for truth is gain, that the truest dignity rests in wearing the chain upon the arm rather than endure the chain upon the soul.”