Scripture Reading: Acts 26:1-32

In this message we shall continue to consider Paul’s defense before Agrippa (26:1-29). Then we shall go on to see Agrippa’s judgment concerning Paul’s case (26:30-32).

In his defense before Agrippa, Paul testified of the Lord’s appearing to him and saying, “Rise up and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you a minister and a witness both of the things in which you have seen Me, and the things in which I will appear to you; taking you out from the people and from the Gentiles, to whom I send you” (vv. 16-17). We have seen that Paul was appointed not only a minister but also a witness. In verse 17 the Lord told Paul that He would take him out from the people and from the Gentiles. This verse may also be translated “delivering you from the people and from the Gentiles.”


To Open People’s Eyes

In verse 18 we have the contents of Paul’s commission: “To open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.” Here the opening of people’s eyes is the carrying out of the fulfillment of God’s jubilee, the acceptable year of the Lord, proclaimed by the Lord Jesus in Luke 4:18-21 according to God’s New Testament economy. The acceptable year of the Lord in Luke 4:19 is the New Testament age typified by the year of jubilee (Lev. 25:8-17), which is the time when God accepts the returned captives of sin (Isa. 49:8; 2 Cor. 6:2) and when the oppressed under the bondage of sin may enjoy the release of God’s salvation. The first item of the spiritual and divine blessings of the New Testament jubilee, which are the blessings of the gospel of God, is to open the eyes of those who are fallen and turn them from darkness to light so that they may see the divine things in the spiritual realm. To see these things requires spiritual sight and divine light.

Many of us have had the experience of listening to certain messages that brought us into darkness and of listening to other messages that brought us into light. Suppose you are listening to a sermon given by a particular minister, pastor, or preacher. The more you listen to that sermon, the more you are brought into darkness, and everything becomes opaque. However, you may listen to another message, and the more you listen, the more the divine light shines in you. Day dawns, your eyes are opened, and you begin to see spiritual things. This is the kind of message that opens people’s eyes.

Turning from Darkness to Light
and from the Authority of Satan to God

Acts 26:18 speaks not only of the opening of the eyes but also of the turn from darkness to light and from the authority of Satan to God. This turn is what we mean by a transfer. To turn from darkness to light is to have a transfer from darkness into light, and to turn from the authority of Satan to God is to be transferred out of the authority of Satan into God. What a great transfer this is!

Darkness is a sign of sin and death; light is a sign of righteousness and life (John 1:4; 8:12). The authority of Satan is Satan’s kingdom (Matt. 12:26), which belongs to darkness. Satan is the ruler of this world (John 12:31) and the ruler of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2). He has his authority and his angels (Matt. 25:41), who are his subordinates as principalities, powers, and rulers of the darkness of this world (Eph. 6:12). Hence, Satan has his kingdom, the authority of darkness (Col. 1:13).

According to 26:18, we are transferred from the authority of Satan to God. Actually, to be transferred to God is to be transferred to the authority of God, which is God’s kingdom belonging to light. Formerly we were in darkness and under the authority of Satan. But we have been transferred out of darkness and the authority of Satan into light and God.

Darkness is actually the authority of Satan. Whenever we are in darkness, we are under the satanic authority. Light is God Himself (1 John 1:5). Therefore, when we are in the light, we are in God. Just as Satan and darkness are one, so God and light are one. The greatest transfer we can have is the transfer from darkness to light.

In chapter twenty-one of Acts James was promoting the old things of Judaism. When he was doing this, he was in darkness. James said to Paul, “You observe, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews who have believed, and all are zealous for the law” (21:20). This word was spoken in darkness, and it indicates that James himself was blind and in darkness. Because he was in darkness, he was also under the authority of Satan. It is not too severe to say this concerning James.

Paul certainly was not blind. However, in Acts 21 he was in danger of being pulled back into darkness. Actually, for the days he was in the temple with the others for the completion of the Nazarite vow, he was in darkness.