Chapter Twenty-Six — Part Two: The Book of ActsBy: Pastors Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne
Publish date: 04/09/2023Foundation Scriptures:
1. Persecuting the Saints.
a. Paul testifies before Festus and King Agrippa, making known to them who he was, and what he did, before Jesus arrested him.
b. He once held to the same beliefs and attitude as his accusers, and perhaps even more zealously.
c. Acts 26:9 AMPC — I myself indeed was [once] persuaded that it was my duty to do many things contrary to and in defiance of the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
d. Contrary (Greek enantios) – contrary; against; over against; opposite; opposed as an adversary; hostile; antagonistic in feeling or act; an opponent.
e. Paul had previously aggressively opposed, and been antagonistic toward, the Church (Acts 7:58; 8:1-3; 9:1-2; 22:4-5).
f. Acts 26:10 AMPC — And that is what I did in Jerusalem; I [not only] locked up many of the [faithful] saints (holy ones) in prison by virtue of authority received from the chief priests, but when they were being condemned to death, I cast my vote against them.
g. Paul behaved unmercifully toward the Christians, the saints.
h. Saints (Greek hagios) – holy; a saint; holy one; most holy thing; reverend, worthy of veneration; sacred; set apart; physically pure: morally blameless (pure, sinless, upright, holy); ceremonially consecrated (sacrifices).
i. This word, “saints,” is only used once in the gospels (Mt. 27:52); 4 times in referring to Christians in Acts (Acts 9:13,32,41; 26:10); and 56 times in the epistles and Revelation.
j. It means: To be set apart for God; to be exclusively His.
k. It is used of persons whose services God employs—e.g., apostles.
l. The term, “saint,” has been misappropriated by the religious church.
m. Saints are not a few select people designated by religious system.
n. Saints are God’s set apart and consecrated people—His Church.
2. Bitter Fury.
a. Acts 26:11 AMPC — And frequently I punished them in all the synagogues to make them blaspheme; and in my bitter fury against them, I harassed (troubled, molested, persecuted) if and pursued them even to foreign cities.
b. Paul had persecuted the saints—imprisoning and executing them and compelling them to blaspheme and deny Jesus.
c. He had zealously pursued Christians outside of Jewish jurisdiction and into foreign cities such as Damascus.
d. Perhaps his own shameful past of unreasonable zeal, and blind hatred, enabled him to be patient now with his fellow countrymen.
e. Acts 26:12 AMPC — Thus engaged I proceeded to Damascus with the authority and orders of the chief priests,
f. Everything that Paul had done, was sanctioned, and encouraged by, the chief priests.
a. Acts 26:13 AMPC — When on the road at midday, O king, I saw a light from heaven surpassing the brightness of the sun, flashing about me and those who were traveling with me.
b. The sun is the brightest at midday, and this heavenly light surpassed the brightness of the sun, so that even those with him on the road saw the light.
c. The supernatural presence of God caused all of them to fall to the ground.
d. Everyone heard Jesus’ voice but only Paul heard the words He spoke (Acts 9:7; 22:9).
e. Acts 26:14-15 AMPC — And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew tongue saying to me, Saul, Saul, why do you continue to persecute Me [to harass and trouble and molest Me]? It is dangerous and turns out badly for you to keep kicking against the goads [to keep offering vain and perilous resistance]. 15 And I said, Who are You, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting.
4. Heavenly Calling.
a. Acts 26:16 AMPC — But arise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, that I might appoint you to serve as [My] minister and to bear witness both to what you have seen of Me and to that in which I will appear to you,
b. Jesus appeared to Paul for this purpose—to appoint him to serve as his minister and to bear witness to Jesus Himself and to everything He says and does.
c. Minister (Greek hypēretēs) – officer; minister; servant; subordinate (assistant, sexton, constable); to row; an under-oarsman; an under-rower; subordinate rower.
d. This word is used:
- of anyone who serves with hands.
- of anyone who is subordinate to another, or who aids another in any work.
- of anyone ministering or rendering service.
- of the attendants of a king, servants, retinue, the soldiers of a king.
- of the attendant of a synagogue.
- in the NT of the officers and attendants of magistrates.
e. Witness (Greek martys) – witness (in a legal or historical sense); record; one who is a spectator of anything; martyr.
f. The word martyr is used of those who have proved the strength and genuineness of their faith in Christ by undergoing a violent death, such as Stephen.
g. You can be a witness, without being a martyr (in the sense of dying for your faith).
h. But a martyr is always a witness to the truth of Jesus Christ, and a testimony of the strength of their conviction, willingness to endure persecution and even to die for Him, and for the sake of the Gospel.
i. Acts 26:17 AMPC — Choosing you out [selecting you for Myself] and delivering you from among this [Jewish] people and the Gentiles to whom I am sending you —
j. Jesus is the one who chose Paul for Himself, to be a minister to the Gentiles.
k. Acts 26:18 AMPC — To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may thus receive forgiveness and release from their sins and a place and portion among those who are consecrated and purified by faith in Me.
l. Jesus Christ died, and was raised from the dead, in order to save both Jews and Gentiles—and calls each and every one of us to testify to them of His saving power (Isa. 42:6-7,16).
m. Isaiah 42:6 KJV — I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.