Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April 18: Acts 25

Today's reading in our daily plan is Acts 25. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)

  • After those two years of imprisonment, Paul is back on trial with a new politician, Festus. The trial gets scheduled quickly at the request of the Jews and starts in days. But the prosecution recycles the same unsubstantiated charges as before. This time Paul doesn’t defend himself and instead appeals to Caesar. This appeal is similar to asking that a trial in the US be raised to the Supreme Court. And Festus grants Paul’s request.
  • A few days later Festus has King Agrippa as a guest and gets to discuss Paul’s situation with him. The problem is that Festus decreed that Paul will stand trial in Rome but there are no legitimate charges to bring him there. The visiting king wants to hear what Paul has to say and… that’s exactly what we’ll hear tomorrow. But for the meantime here are some facts about King Agrippa:
    • Known historically as Herod Agrippa II
    • Was the last of a series of Herods who ruled their homeland of Palestine on Rome’s behalf
    • Educated in Rome
    • Came to power at age 17 after his father’s death
    • His sister Bernice, who accompanied him to hear Paul’s trial, was also his mistress
    • When Jerusalem revolted against Nero in ad 66, Agrippa backed Rome completely* 
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)

  • Agrippa grew up geographically near to Jesus, Peter, and Paul but something was very different about him. His homeland was Palestine and his capitol Jerusalem but his loyalties lied with Rome and the Emperor. It's important to remember as Christians we are first citizens of the Kingdom of God; our loyalty to our nation is always second.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)

  • Agrippa put his loyalty to Rome above loyalty to God. Do you feel any conflict between competing loyalties? Where and why? Take a moment and talk to God about these things and ask him what your next steps should be.

*Facts about King Agrippa are from:
The Student Bible, New International Version: Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Page 1169