“Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense:2 “King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently. 4 “The Jewish people all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. 5 They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee. 6 And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today.7 This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. King Agrippa, it is because of this hope that these Jews are accusing me. 8 Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?” Acts 26.1-8
Twice in these eight verses Paul mentions the word “promise.” First, he says in v.6 that “it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today.” And second, in v.7, “this is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God.” In addition, Paul mentions the word “hope” three times in the same segment.
Promise and hope, two words Paul focuses upon while in chains and standing before his accusers. Think about that for a moment, when everything that Paul had endured and was going to endure, he was still claiming to the promise of God and doing so with an abundance of hope in his heart.
Paul claims in v.6 that he is in chains because of the hope of what God promised his ancestors so long ago. What does this mean? Paul was full of hope, faith really, for what God promised. And how long ago and to whom was this promise? Paul takes us back to the formation of the twelve tribes of Israel who are hoping to see this promise revealed. And still, they seek his promise day and night at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem and in their synagogues— hoping for the coming of the Messiah.
We believe, as Paul did, that Jesus was and is Messiah. This is the argument Paul is making, the hope is in Jesus who was raised from the dead. And ironically, as Paul says in v.7b, the Jews are persecuting Paul because of hope. So strange! Both sides are seeking and searching for a Messiah, Paul believes he has been found in Jesus and the staunchly religious Jews reject this notion outright. They in fact killed Jesus because they did not believe he was who he said he was.
However, Paul remains steadfast in talking to King Agrippa, Governor Festus and the whole assembly about promises and hope. He believes, as I do, that Messiah has come and through Jesus we find embrace God’s Savior, be forgiven of sin, and find life every lasting today and for eternity.
In what or whom are you placing your hope? Are you leaning upon Jesus? Are you embracing God’s promises for your life? Are you considering your life worth nothing if only you my testify to the Gospel of God’s grace? Are you willing to embrace this hope even in a world that has rejected the truth?
Return to Jesus. Find rest in Christ. Allow him to be your hope and stay. Trust in his promises and share this news with the world.
“O Lord God, you are good. Thank you for loving us and for allowing us to find hope in your word. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me with compassion and truth. Help me hear your voice and be guided by your Word. I love you Lord and praise your name. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen