What One Must Know to be Saved: Agrippa

July 31, 2008

In Acts 26, we have Luke’s account of Paul’s defense before King Agrippa.

King Agrippa was familiar with the Old Testament prophets. It was not necessary in his case to establish the basic facts about God and his past relations with the Jews. So in Paul, in his testimony before Agrippa, simply explained how he, as a Pharisee, had come to believe in Jesus and to devote his life to spreading that message.

Paul told Agrippa of his background as a Jew, and that his recent activities were the result of his hope in the promises God made to the Jews. He explained how he had persecuted the church, and recounted his conversion on the road to Damascus. And he told Agrippa of the instructions he received from Jesus:

Act 26:17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them
Act 26:18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

And he testified that in his subsequent activities he was carrying out those instructions.

Act 26:19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven.
Act 26:20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.

Paul then summarized the gospel message he had been teaching:

Act 26:22 But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen–
Act 26:23 that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.”

Paul’s message to Agrippa contained the same elements as we have seen previously:

  1. That Jesus is the Christ prophesied in the Old Testament;
  2. That Jesus suffered and died and rose from the dead;
  3. That Jews and Gentiles alike are called to repent and turn to God;
  4. That forgiveness of sins was offered through faith in Jesus.

Agrippa was not immediately converted by Paul’s testimony:

Act 26:28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
Act 26:29 Paul replied, “Short time or long–I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

As Paul indicated, the message sometimes converts in a short time, but in other instances conversion requires a longer time. And in Agrippa’s case, as is too often the case, he apparently never did come to accept the message.

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