Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 26:9-16
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 26:9-10
vs9-10: After challenging Agrippa to ask himself why he found it so difficult to believe that God would raise the dead, Paul returned to telling his own story. He said as a Pharisee he assumed God wanted him to stop the spread of Christianity. It wasn’t enough that he personally didn’t believe Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah, he felt impelled to prevent anyone else from believing in Him either. The chief priests granted him the authority to pursue and persecute any followers of Jesus he could find, and he performed his assignment with tireless zeal. He put many “saints” in jail, and when they were placed on trial, he held a high enough position in the religious structure to be a member of the jury who voted on whether or not to execute them, and he voted for death.

Monday: Acts 26:10
v10 (continued): The Greek words Luke uses here picture how that voting was conducted. Paul literally says, “…and when they were being lifted up (tried and executed), I put down a stone.” The word Luke uses for “stone” does not mean the larger type of rock one might throw at someone to execute them, but rather a small, smooth pebble, the kind that were used in voting. To cast a vote, a member of the jury got up and placed either a white stone (innocent; Rev 2:17) or black stone (guilty) into a jar, and then the votes would be counted (A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Broadman, 1930, Vol 3, p. 446). By confessing this Paul is accepting full moral responsibility for his actions. Not only had he arrested people, but their innocent blood was on his head because he had personally participated in the decisions that brought their execution (Ac 8:1).

Tuesday: Acts 26:11-13
v11: So far, Paul has described the persecution he conducted in the city of Jerusalem, but his growing hatred for Christ propelled him beyond Jerusalem. He systematically examined every synagogue in the region, and even beyond that to the synagogues in foreign cities. Any suspects who refused to renounce Christ would be stretched out on the ground and whipped with a leather whip up to 39 lashes (2Co 11:24). As he beat them Paul would demand that they blaspheme Jesus, and he describes himself during that process as “raging against them” like someone who is insane.
vs12-13: Paul’s campaign against “the name of Jesus” (v9) took him to the city of Damascus. The chief priests had empowered him with the authority to act on their behalf, and as he was traveling toward the city, suddenly, at mid-day, he looked down the road and saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun itself. The light was so bright that even though it was the middle of the day, the ground around him and his companions was illuminated.

Wednesday: Acts 26:14
v14: They all fell to the ground, and then heard a voice speak to them. Paul’s companions could hear a sound but didn’t understand what the voice said (Ac 9:7; 22:9). Using a Hebrew dialect, commonly spoken in Israel, called Aramaic (Ac 21:40), the voice said, “Saul, Saul, why are you pursuing (hunting) Me? It’s hard for you to kick against the goads.” There are two powerful images here. The first pictures Paul as a hunter pursuing his prey, and the second as a farm-animal, such as a horse, mule or ox, pulling a wagon. In order to prevent the animals from kicking the wagon-box with its hind feet, sharp stakes were mounted at the front of the wagon. If the animal kicked backwards at the wagon, it immediately injured itself and the behavior soon stopped. So before He even introduced Himself, Jesus spoke to Paul and showed him how his behavior looked from God’s perspective: he was a vicious hunter and a stubborn mule.

Thursday: Acts 26:14
v14 (continued): On this particular occasion Paul discloses everything the Lord said to him during that encounter, and we discover there were some comments addressed to him personally we have not heard before (Ac 9:4-6; 22:7-10). One of these is the statement about “kicking against the goads.” This is a very enlightening remark. Jesus was exposing Paul’s heart. He was disclosing attitudes that only He and Paul knew existed, which is that Paul had been plagued with doubts while he was violently persecuting Christians. We don’t know what caused those doubts, but we can guess. Had he seen the depth of faith in those believers when they refused to renounce Christ even when they were being whipped or stoned? Did Stephen’s shining face still haunt him (Ac 6:15; 7:55-56)? Could he sense how evil his dark rage against Christ had become? Yet every time the Holy Spirit tried to reveal the truth about Christ he had reacted stubbornly, hardening his heart and growing more hostile, kicking against the goads, even though he was wounding himself more deeply every time.

Friday: Acts 26:14-15
v14 (continued): There must have been a lingering suspicion in the back of Paul’s mind that he might be wrong and these believers might be right, yet every time such thoughts arose he had repressed them by becoming even more aggressive. If so, this is probably why Jesus did not confront Paul with the gospel during this encounter. He didn’t ask him to confess His death and resurrection. He just stood there in His glory and asked Paul why he’d been such a hypocrite. v15: Since Jesus had not bothered to introduce Himself, sooner or later Paul had to ask the question, “Who are you, Lord?”—not because he had no idea who this must be, but more like a guilty man asking the judge to announce the verdict he knows is coming—to which Jesus responded, “I am Jesus, whom you are pursuing (hunting).” There’s no missing the irony here. Paul had been pursuing Jesus like a hunter stalking his prey, but now that he’d found Him he saw how desperately small, weak and helpless he was before this divine Son of God. Then, without waiting for Paul to respond, Jesus told Paul to stand on his feet to receive his assignment. There would be no discussion about whether Paul did or did not believe. Like Jacob, Paul had wrestled with the Lord and lost (Ge 32:24-32). The very fact that his life was being spared, and for that matter, that his horrendous sin would be forgiven, should provide all the motivation he would need to obey whatever was about to be said.

Saturday: Acts 26:16
v16: By the time Paul is told to stand on his feet, he was totally blind (Ac 9:8), so that simple act of rising up and standing at attention would have required some extra effort. This report that Paul gives to Agrippa of what the Lord said to him on the road to Damascus contains more information than we’ve heard elsewhere (Ac 9:3-8; 22:6-11), which causes some people to think that Paul included here some of the words the Lord spoke later on through Ananias (Ac 9:10-19). But there’s nothing in the text which suggests that. What seems to be taking place is that because of his great desire to reach the heart of King Agrippa (vs2, 7, 13, 19), Paul presented to him the full unabridged version of all the Lord spoke to him in that moment. As he stood there on that road, seeing nothing, Jesus commissioned him into His service by saying “…for this reason I have appeared to you, to appoint (handpick) you [to be] a servant and witness of those things about Me which you have already seen (this encounter with the resurrected Jesus) and also of those things in which I will appear to you [in the future]” (Ac 18:9; 23:11; 2Co 12:2). 

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