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[Lesson 21] Acts 25:13-26:32

The Fourth Trial
Acts 25:13-26:32

Courage is fear that has said its prayers. Paul exhibits courage even after more than two years at the mercy of Felix and Festus. How did he do it? On his knees! Only by abiding in Christ can anyone stand up under circumstances like these. And Paul even made good use of the time. Many scholars believe he wrote several of the letters which are part of our Bibles while imprisoned in Caesarea. In this passage, Luke records Paul’s last encounter with these captors. Pray before you begin.

The Fourth Trial
Acts 25:13-26:32

Courage is fear that has said its prayers. Paul exhibits courage even after more than two years at the mercy of Felix and Festus. How did he do it? On his knees! Only by abiding in Christ can anyone stand up under circumstances like these. And Paul even made good use of the time. Many scholars believe he wrote several of the letters which are part of our Bibles while imprisoned in Caesarea. In this passage, Luke records Paul’s last encounter with these captors. Pray before you begin.

Paul is about to learn that he will soon be on his way to stand trial in Rome. However, before Paul could leave, Festus had to prepare the paper-work which would accompany him. King Agrippa II and his sister Bernice arrived to help Festus with this task.

Agrippa was a great-grandson of Herod the Great (Matthew 2:1) and ruler of northeast territories in Palestine. He was a friend of the Roman imperial family and considered an expert in Jewish affairs. Therefore he was allowed to appoint the Jewish high priest and be custodian over the temple treasury. Agrippa was about 30 years old at this time and lived incestuously with Bernice.

Read Acts 25:13-27

    1. A. Why had King Agrippa and Bernice come to Caesarea? (25:13)

    B. What was a hot topic of conversation during Agrippa's holiday? (25:14)

    Festus recounted to Agrippa the details of Paul's case. (25:14-21)

    2. A. What did Festus understand to be the real issue of contention between Paul and the Jewish leaders? (25:19)

    B. After hearing about Paul's case, what was Agrippa's desire? (25:22)

    3. A. Describe the scene in verse 23. How did Bernice, Agrippa and the other high ranking officials enter the great audience hall? In contrast, how did Paul enter?

    B. Can you remember an experience when you had to appear before an important or powerful person whose judgment could greatly affect your life? (Examples: job interview, tax audit, marriage proposal, asking for a promotion or pay raise, doctors' consultation) If so, describe the experience. How did you feel?

    (To bring this courtroom drama to life, act it out in your group, beginning with 25:23. Your is the narrator. She can assign group members to read the parts of Paul, Festus and Agrippa.)

    Festus began the hearing with an introductory statement in verses 24-27.

    4. A. What was Festus' assessment of Paul's guilt or innocence? Why didn't he release Paul? (25:25, 26:32)

    B. What did Festus hope to accomplish at this hearing? (25:26, 27)

Read Acts 26:1-32

    In verse 1 Agrippa asked Paul to explain his side of the story.

    5. A. How did Paul feel about this opportunity to speak before Agrippa? Why? (26:2, 3)

    B. Why did Paul say he was on trial? What is this "hope?" (26:6-8)

    C. (Digging Deeper) What did the Old Testament teach about this "hope"? (Job 19:25, 26; Isaiah 26:19; Daniel 12:2; Acts 26:22b, 23)

    D. (Digging Deeper) Why did the Pharisees, who accepted the doctrine of this "hope," fight the idea that Jesus was the fulfillment of this "hope?" What had they chosen to believe instead? (Matthew 28:11-15) In your opinion, why?

    6. A. If you had an opportunity to witness to an influential government official, what kinds of things would you include in your message? What did Paul almost always include? (26:4, 5, 9-20)

    B. Why do you think Paul confessed to these high officials that in the past he had committed atrocities against others? (26:9-11) Are you open and honest with others concerning your past mistakes? Why is honesty and vulnerability a good quality in a Christian?

    7. After recounting his conversion experience (including the vision on the Damascus road), Paul explained that he was "obedient to the vision from heaven." (26:19) What had he been told to do and be? Where? (26:16-18, 20) Had he fulfilled the commission in Acts 1:8?

    8. A. How did Festus react to Paul's message? What compliment did he inadvertently include? (26:24)

    B. How did Paul respond to Festus' outburst? (26:25)

    C. How did Paul put King Agrippa "on the spot "? (26:26, 27)

    D. What was Agrippa's response to Paul in verse 28? What do you think he meant?

    E. How did Paul answer? What do you think of this statement? How was Paul's missionary heart revealed? (26:29)

    9. A. Festus, Agrippa, Bernice and the other "big wigs" had been confronted with Paul's stirring testimony and challenged to come to faith in Christ. What did they do? How did they sidestep the issue? What rash statement did they think Paul had made? (26:30-32)

    B. How do people sidestep this issue today? What are they risking? If you are a Christian, did you sidestep the issue for awhile before coming to faith in Christ? What can we do when loved ones refuse to listen or respond?

    C. Even though Festus and Agrippa were convinced of Paul’s innocence, why did they refuse to set him free?

    D. Review Paul’s time of imprisonment in Israel beginning with his arrest in 21:27. Why do you think Luke included such a detailed account of these days for us? What has been the primary lesson for you?

Related Topics: Pneumatology (The Holy Spirit), Curriculum