Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 25:13-26:8
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 25:13
v13: Some days later, Herod Agrippa II, the great-grandson of Herod the Great and Bernice, his sister, arrived in Caesarea to welcome the new governor. His father, Herod Agrippa I, had ruled Judea from A.D. 41-44, but he was only seventeen when his father died and those who counseled the emperor Claudius in Rome did not consider him mature enough to take his father’s place. Later on Claudius would grant him the title of “king” over a small kingdom east of Lebanon called Chalcis (A.D. 45); and some years after that (A.D. 53) Nero gave him a larger kingdom, north and east of Israel, which included the city of Caesarea Philippi near Mount Hermon. He made that city his capital and renamed it “Neronias” in honor of Nero (F.F. Bruce, Acts, Eerdmans, reprint 1974, pp. 481-482).

Monday: Acts 25:13
v13 (continued): Since the Romans held all the real political power over the region, Jewish “kings” only exercised authority over local, internal matters, to the degree to which the Romans allowed them to do so. Such kings would have received a steady flow of income from their landholdings. However, Agrippa II had been given a very important religious authority. From A.D. 48-66 he governed the concerns of the Temple in Jerusalem, appointed the Jewish high priests, and was the custodian of the special robes used by the high priest on the Day of Atonement (F.F. Bruce, Acts, p. 481). He remained loyal to Rome during the Jewish War against Rome (A.D. 66-70), and as a result was rewarded with a larger kingdom, but he left Israel and moved to Rome where he died about A.D. 100, childless (F.F. Bruce, The New Bible Dictionary, J.D. Douglas, ed., Eerdmans, reprint 1971, p. 523). He was the last Jewish king.

Tuesday: Acts 25:13
v13 (continued): When we meet Agrippa II, here in the Book of Acts, he was in an incestuous relationship with his sister Bernice (Berenice), who was a year younger than he (E.M.B. Green, The New Bible Dictionary, J.D. Douglas, ed., Eerdmans, reprint 1971, p. 142). Prior to this she had been married to her uncle, the king of Chalcis, a small kingdom east of Lebanon. That marriage lasted only a few years and after her uncle died she became her brother’s mistress. Then, partly to escape the rumors about their relationship, she married the king of Cilicia (Paul’s province), but soon deserted him and moved to Rome to rejoin her brother. During the final stages of the Jewish War (A.D. 66-70), she had attracted the attention of Titus, the Roman general who was soon to become emperor. When she arrived in Rome, instead of living with her brother, she moved in with Titus as his wife, although they never actually married (F.F. Bruce, Acts, Eerdmans, reprint 1974, p. 482, footnote).

Wednesday: Acts 25:14-17
vs14-17: Agrippa and Bernice did not leave right away but stayed on in Caesarea for a number of days, so Festus took the opportunity to discuss with the king the matters regarding Paul. He said to him, “There is a certain man here whom Felix left behind as a prisoner. While I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and elders of the Jews brought charges against him asking me to issue a judgment against him declaring him guilty. I told them that it’s not the custom of Roman Law to decide in favor of anyone before the person who has been formally accused might be given the opportunity to face his accusers and defend himself against the charge. So when the religious leaders assembled here in Caesarea, I acted immediately. The next day I sat down on the judgment seat and commanded this man be brought into the courtroom.”

Thursday: Acts 25:18-22
vs18-22: “When those presenting formal charges stood to speak, they brought no specific example of the type of evil which I had assumed he must have done, but rather certain questions about their own religious fears, and about some Jesus who had died, but whom Paul claimed is alive. And I, being confused by the debate about these matters, asked if he was willing to go to Jerusalem to be judged there concerning them. But when Paul appealed for protection until he could receive the emperor’s decision, I ordered that he be guarded until I was able to send him to Caesar” (paraphrase). Agrippa responded to Festus by saying, “I would also like to listen to the man for myself,” to which Festus replied, “Tomorrow you shall hear him.”

Friday: Acts 25:23-27
vs23-27: Therefore, the next day Agrippa and Bernice entered the auditorium accompanied by the commanders of the soldiers stationed in Caesarea, and the most distinguished leaders of the city, in an elaborate parade meant to honor them. Then Festus gave the command and Paul was brought in. The governor raised his voice so that all could hear and said, “King Agrippa, and all those who are gathered here with us, behold this man about whom multitudes of Jews have approached me, both in Jerusalem and here in Caesarea, screaming out that he should not be allowed to live any longer. Yet I have discovered nothing which he has done that is worthy of death, but he appealed to the emperor, and I decided to send him. Still I have nothing specific to write about him to the ‘lord’ (emperor), which is why I brought him before you, and most of all, before you, King Agrippa, so that after this examination has taken place I may have something to write, because it seems illogical to me to send a prisoner [to Rome] without indicating the charges which have been made against him” (paraphrase).

Saturday: Acts 26:1-8
vs1-3: Agrippa turned toward Paul and said, “You are allowed to speak on your own behalf.” Paul then raised his hand, taking the formal posture ancient speakers assumed in order to honor their audience. In effect, it was a salute. On several occasions in the past we saw him raise and lower his hand to call for silence (e.g. Ac 21:40), but this situation is different. Before he begins his defense he shows respect to this distinguished gathering. Then addressing his remarks to the king he said, “Concerning all those things of which I am being accused by Jews, King Agrippa, I consider myself blessed that I am going to defend myself before you today, since you are the one most knowledgeable among all the Jews about our customs and the questions [being discussed here], which is why I beg you to patiently listen to me.” vs4-8: “So then, all Jews know my personal history from my youth onward, which from the beginning has been lived out among my own people and in Jerusalem. Having known me from the very beginning, if they were willing to testify, they would have to admit that I lived as a Pharisee, following after the strictest school of thought in our form of discipline. And now, I am being judged because I stand on the hope of the promise which God made to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes earnestly reach out in worship, night and day, hoping to arrive at that goal. It is because of this hope that I am being accused by the Jews, O’ King. Why do all of you consider it to be unbelievable that God raises dead people?” 

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