What does Acts 26:28 mean?
ESV: And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”
NIV: Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?'
NASB: Agrippa replied to Paul, 'In a short time you are going to persuade me to make a Christian of myself.'
CSB: Agrippa said to Paul, "Are you going to persuade me to become a Christian so easily? "
NLT: Agrippa interrupted him. 'Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?'
KJV: Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
Paul has struck a nerve. Governor Festus has invited him to present his defense before King Agrippa II, Bernice, and the leaders of Caesarea Maritima (Acts 25:23). Paul knows Agrippa understands Jewish culture and religion (Acts 26:2–3). Further, he believes Agrippa believes—in some sense—the prophecies recorded in Jewish Scriptures (Acts 26:27). Agrippa knows the story of how Jesus of Nazareth reportedly rose from the dead, even though he was probably only about six years old at the time. He understands that Jesus-worship is a sect of Judaism, and that they're called "Christians." Unlike Festus, who thinks Paul has gone insane (Acts 26:24), Agrippa acknowledges the logic of Paul's argument and can't counter it.
When Paul challenges Agrippa to believe in Jesus, he deflects. He is a king: the last king of the Jews. To confess belief in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and Son of God would be political disaster. Further, he's surrounded by Roman leaders who call Caesar son of the gods and likely don't believe in the physical resurrection of the dead.
Agrippa cannot follow Paul's Christ, but neither can he condemn Paul for leading an illegal cult (Acts 24:5). Festus called him to listen to Paul to see if he had committed any crime. Agrippa has no choice to but to declare that he hasn't. In fact, he says, "This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar" (Acts 26:32).
Acts 26:24–32 records Governor Felix and King Agrippa II reacting to Paul's testimony. He has just finished giving account of how he accepted Christ and dedicated his life to spreading the gospel. Festus thinks Paul has gone insane. Agrippa understands Jesus' fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, but he can't accept the personal implications. What they all agree on, however, is that Paul shouldn't be imprisoned. If he hadn't appealed to Caesar, he should have been freed.
Acts 26 records Paul's testimony before the noblemen of Caesarea Maritima, as well as their reactions. He explains that Jewish leaders want him dead because he once persecuted the church, but now believes Jesus rose from the dead and has been spreading that message. Governor Festus thinks Paul has gone mad. King Agrippa II, however, finds his story compelling. They realize that had Paul not appealed to a higher Roman court, they could have let him go.
After being held in custody for two years and, again, hassled by the Sanhedrin who want to kill him, Paul appeals his case to Caesar (Acts 25:7–12). Before he travels to Rome, however, Governor Festus has Paul give his testimony before King Agrippa II and the noblemen of Caesarea Maritima (Act 25:23–27). When Paul is finished, they realize they should have set him free before he appealed to Caesar (Acts 26:30–32). But he must go to Rome, surviving a violent storm and a shipwreck along the way (Acts 27—28).
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
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