Paul shows incredible patience and endurance in these chapters. Can you imagine being accused of something because a group of people takes offense to the things you are preaching? They accused him of all kinds of things and Paul's response is to calmly speak the truth of what he had done. Then he's thrown in jail and kept there without proper trial or reason for 2 years because he doesn't offer a bribe and the leader wants to win some seats at the election. After two years of sitting in prison waiting for a trial the accusers are still out to get him. Then a new leader comes to the throne and he sees this situation as quite perplexing and is unsure of what to do.
"When they came here with me, I did not delay the case, but convened the court the next day and ordered the man to be brought in. When his accusers got up to speak, they did not charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. Instead, they had some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive. I was at a loss how to investigate such matters." Act 25:17-20a
Can you feel his confusion? Here is a man that has been held for 2 years in prison and when Festus finds out what Paul's being accused of he can't understand why this man has been kept here for so long and has no idea of how to investigate any of these accusations.
So he involves King Agrippa and proceeds to tell the court of his confusion.
"The whole Jewish community has petitioned me about him in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, shouting that he ought not to live any longer. I found he had done nothing deserving of death." Acts 25:24b
King Agrippa then asks Paul to speak for himself. And Paul takes this opportunity to witness to the King and his court. He speaks freely and boldly, challenging them very directly. And I love King Agrippa's question at the end of chapter 26 and Paul's response.
Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?" 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." Acts 26:28-29
"Short or long" Paul says. His heart is truly shown here. Paul is more worried about the salvation of these people than he was about his own freedom.
And then in the final verse I can just picture Agrippa leaning over and whispering to Festus that Paul was innocent of the charges.
Agrippa said to Festus, "This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar." Act. 26:32
Paul had spent all of this time in prison on bogus charges, falsely accused and what does he spend his time doing? Evangelizing.
Have you ever been wrongly accused? I have and I didn't find it easy to let go. I wanted people to know the truth and believe me. It took a long time for me to get past it and realize that people will believe what they want to believe about me no matter how much I protest. It's a waste of our time and energy trying to prove ourselves right or innocent. Paul took his chances to speak the truth of the accusations but his focus and concern was only for the salvation of others and not his reputation and freedom. We can learn a lot from his example.
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Acts 27-28