In this message we shall begin to consider Paul’s defense before Agrippa and Agrippa’s judgment (26:1-32).
After Agrippa told Paul that he was permitted to speak for himself, Paul stretched out his hand and began to make his defense, saying, “Concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate that I am about to make my defense before you today; especially since you are an expert in all the customs and questions among the Jews; wherefore I beg you to listen to me patiently” (vv. 2-3). As we have pointed out a number of times, in facing his opponents it was necessary for Paul to make a defense in order to save his life from his persecutors. By making such a defense to save his life, he would be able to fulfill the course of his ministry.
Paul appealed to Agrippa as being an expert in all the customs and questions among the Jews. The Greek words rendered, “Especially since you are an expert,” may also be translated, “Since you are especially expert.”
In verses 4 and 5 Paul continued, “Now, therefore, my manner of life from my youth, which from the beginning was among my nation in Jerusalem, all the Jews know, having previously known me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.” Here Paul vindicated himself by saying that, even before his conversion, he was a proper person and lived the strict life of a Pharisee. Of course, in the sight of God Paul was not proper. But humanly speaking, he did live a proper life, and there was no ground for anyone to condemn him.
In verses 6 through 8 Paul went on to speak of the resurrection: “And now I stand here being judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes, earnestly serving night and day, hope to attain; concerning which hope I am accused by the Jews, O king. Why is it judged incredible by you if God raises the dead?” In verse 6 the Greek word translated “for” literally means “upon,” “on the ground of.” In these verses Paul indicates that, in contrast to the Sadducees, he had always believed in the resurrection. The resurrection was taught in the Old Testament, especially in Daniel 12. It is a matter that requires our careful consideration.
In the Bible resurrection implies the coming judgment, and judgment implies eschatology. Resurrection, therefore, is related to one’s eternal future, whether he will be happy in eternity or suffer perdition. A person’s eternal future depends upon judgment, and judgment requires resurrection. From this we see that resurrection is an important matter in the Scriptures, for it concerns our eternal destiny. Even before his conversion, Paul, as a Pharisee, believed in resurrection.
The Lord Jesus spoke clearly concerning resurrection in John 5:28 and 29: “An hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth: those who have done the good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done the evil to the resurrection of judgment.” We have seen that the resurrection of life is the resurrection of the saved believers before the millennium (Rev. 20:4, 6; 1 Cor. 15:23, 52; 1 Thes. 4:16). The dead believers will be resurrected to enjoy eternal life at the coming back of the Lord Jesus. The resurrection of judgment is the resurrection of the perished unbelievers after the millennium (Rev. 20:5, 12). All the dead unbelievers will be resurrected after the thousand years to be judged at the great white throne (Rev. 20:11-15). Even before he was saved, Paul believed in the resurrection of life and of judgment, as taught in Daniel 12:2.
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