Acts 2020 Bible Study (Moving Forward with Jesus)

Acts 25-26, The Mission


Paul was on a mission. The mission was so important to him that he was willing to suffer all kinds of trials and mistreatments for the mission. This is why Paul is imprisoned right now. Paul was proclaiming Jesus in Jerusalem which enraged the Jews who then wanted to kill him. The apostle Paul is in the middle of dealing with people who seem to not be interesting in hearing the truth he is proclaiming. So we are going to look at what the truth and it is supposed to affect everyone as we look at Acts 25-26.

Truth Ignored (25:1-27)

You will notice as we open Acts 25 that we read about Festus as Roman governor over Judea. Remember that in Acts 24 Paul stood trial before Antionus Felix. But rather than making a decision, he left Paul in prison for two years (24:27). Felix is replaced by Portius Festus around 59 AD because he mismanaged a violent outbreak between Jews and Greeks in Caesarea. So Festus is going to deal with this situation with Paul and the Jews immediately. The chief priests and leaders of Jews presented their case against Paul to Festus and ask a favor to send Paul to Jerusalem. Now we know why they want Paul in Jerusalem. They have a conspiracy in place to kill Paul. But Festus wants to have a trial and listen to what Paul has to say. So the Jewish leaders did the same thing they did when Felix was governor. They present a number of charges against Paul that are false (25:7). Paul argues the same defense that he had before. He has not committed any crime against the law of the Jews, against the temple, or against Caesar (25:8).

Paul should be released because the charges cannot be substantiated against him. But notice verse 9. Festus wants to do the Jews a favor. So Festus indicates he wants to send Paul back to Jerusalem for trial. Paul knows that he cannot do that. Paul barely got out of Jerusalem with his life and his nephew told him that there was a conspiracy in place to have him killed. So Paul cannot go back to Jerusalem. Paul answers in verse 10 that he is where he belongs. This problem needs to be sorted out by a Roman court. He has not done any wrong against the Jews, and Festus knows this. If I have done wrong, then charge me with the wrong and execute the punishment. But if there is nothing to their charges, then you cannot hand me over to them. Therefore, Paul appeals to Caesar (25:11). It is clear that Paul does not think Festus is going to rule for him but is going to send him back to Jerusalem because he wants to do the Jews a favor as the newly placed governor over the region.

But I want you to see how the truth was ignored. The Jewish leaders did not care what the truth was concerning Paul. They are making all kinds of false charges, just like they did against Jesus 30 years earlier. Festus does not care about the truth either. Paul says that Festus knows that he has not done any wrong. But the truth does not seem to matter. No one will seek the truth. No one will act on the truth. The truth is ignored.

Festus finds out that Agrippa has come to Caesarea. Agrippa ruled over Galilee at that time and seems to have come to congratulate and pay his respects to Festus. Agrippa’s father is the one who had the apostle James killed, the apostle Peter arrested, and was eaten by worms after failing to give glory to God. His grandfather was Herod the Great who murdered children in Bethlehem in an attempt to kill Jesus. Agrippa has a better understanding of the Jews and Jewish law. The rest of chapter 25 is Festus seeking Agrippa’s counsel as to what to do with Paul. Festus’ problem is that he is going to send Paul to Rome to stand trial before Caesar but he does not know what to say about him. He does not have any charges to which Paul is going to Rome for (25:26-27). Agrippa says he would like hear from Paul himself. This sets up for another big show. In verse 23 we see Agrippa and Bernice enter the hall with great pomp with all the Roman commanders and prominent men of the city. This is a big to do and not a quiet discussion. Festus has Paul brought in and then makes a big pronouncement about having Paul stand before Agrippa to understand the charges against Paul.

The Problem (26:1-23)

Chapter 26 opens with Paul being given the freedom to speak for himself. Paul continues to show honor and respect to these leaders. Paul summarizes that he is on trial because of his hope for the resurrection. Paul even proclaims, “Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?” (26:8). Paul explains his story about opposing the name of Jesus (26:9-11). Paul tried to make Christians blaspheme and in raging fury Paul persecuted them (26:11). On his way to persecute Christians, he saw Jesus risen from the dead. This is the reason for Paul’s life change. It is one of the most important defenses for the resurrection of Jesus. Nothing else could have changed Paul from persecutor to believer than the resurrection of Jesus. Now Paul comes to a point in his defense that he has not revealed before. Listen to verses 17-18 and Paul explains what Jesus told him.

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 26:16–18 ESV)

Why are people rejecting the truth? Why are people not listening to the truth? Why do people try to make their own opinions truth? Consider what the Lord Jesus told Paul. He was sending Paul “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power Satan to God.” Here is the truth that we often do not want to listen to or accept. The whole world is blind, in spiritual darkness, and under the power of Satan. This is the great problem for humanity. Everyone is in darkness. The scripture repeatedly declare this truth. Listen to some of the different ways Paul expressed this truth.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21 ESV)

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4 ESV)

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14 ESV)

They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. (Ephesians 4:18 ESV)

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son. (Colossians 1:13 ESV)

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)

There are more scriptures that give the same emphasis. The reason why I am emphasizing this point with this repetition is so that it will really hit us what the problem is with the world. The problem is not in our laws. The problem is not in politics. The problem is not the type of government or economic system. The problem is that people are in darkness. They cannot see and they do not know that they cannot see. You do not realize the darkness you are in until the light is turned on. Have you ever sat in a room without light in the late afternoon and are able to see fine. But the room is slowly getting darker. Your eyes are adjusting and you think you can still see well. Then someone comes from another room and says, “Why are you sitting in the dark?” They flip on the light switch and suddenly you are able to see. You had no idea you were having difficulty until the light was turned on. This is what God is expressing. The world is blind. People are in darkness and under the power of Satan. The world is the way that it is because this is true.

The Solution (26:1-23)

Notice what Paul was charged to do. Paul was to “open their eyes” so that they can turn and receive forgiveness of sins and a place among the sanctified by faith (26:18). The way that eyes are opened is by proclaiming Jesus. This is what Paul explains that he was doing. You see this in verse 20. “I preached…that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.”

The mission is to give sight. People cannot see without God opening eyes through the gospel. Listen again to what Paul said.

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:4–6 ESV)

The mission is to give sight. God is doing his supernatural work of opening eyes through the light of the gospel. Therefore, we do not proclaim ourselves. We do not proclaim stories. We do not proclaim anything else but Jesus Christ as Lord. This is the only way for light to shine in hearts. So we need to stop arguing over everything else. The world cannot see what you see. The lost cannot see but they think they can see. They will never see what you see unless you give them the gospel. They will never see unless you give them Jesus. They do not need your politics, your cultural views, your national ideas, or other stances. They need Jesus so they will be able to finally see. Paul understood this truth and that is why we are reading the apostle Paul talk only about the gospel of Jesus before each person that he stands. So Paul says he stands before the small and great, saying nothing but what Moses and the prophets said: Christ must suffer, raise from the dead, and proclaim light to the world (26:22-23).

The Prevailing Darkness (26:24-32)

Look at what Festus says about what Paul has proclaimed. Festus said, “You are out of your mind!” (26:24). This is one response that will happen. Some are going to listen to you say that Jesus possesses the light and you are living in darkness, and have a response that you are crazy. Your way of thinking is irrational or foolish. You are out of your mind. Paul responds that he is not out of his mind. Listen to verse 25. “I am speaking true and rational words.” I am telling you the truth. When you tell people the truth of Jesus and shine light, people will think you have lost it. We should expect this outcome. You will have ridicule because people are in darkness.

There is another response that is recorded which is similar to Festus’ response. Paul challenges Agrippa about these things. Paul challenges Agrippa about the light. Paul says that Agrippa has seen all of this. Paul says that he knows that Agrippa believes the prophets. But Agrippa is dismissive. Do you think you can persuade me in such a short amount of time? Look at Paul’s response in verse 29. Whether it is a short or long time, I want you and all who hear me to become like me. Paul understood the mission. The mission was to bring light into the darkness. The mission was to live his life so that people would see Jesus and hear Jesus so that they could be set free from the power of Satan, receive forgiveness, and receive a place among the sanctified.


So people are going to reject the truth. People are going to seem uninterested because they think they can see in the darkness. But we have a mission to shine the light, to reveal the truth, and to rescue people. But this only happens one way: proclaiming Jesus. We have been given a critical mission. If we are not willing to be the light of the world, then how will the world see light? If we are not willing to proclaim Jesus, then people will never see. See the mission and live the mission.

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