Governor Festus sees, in the visit of King Agrippa and his wife Bernice, an opportunity for advice on Paul’s case. He candidly admits that he “was at a loss how to investigate such matters” (Acts 25:20).
Festus must send a covering letter with Paul to Rome, specifying the charges against him. He would appreciate input from the Herodian king, Agrippa, who is the son of Herod Agrippa I and the brother of Drusilla, mentioned in Acts 24. Agrippa is said to be an expert in Jewish affairs and the Scriptures.
This opens the way for Paul to present his testimony a second time as recorded in Acts, albeit a fuller account than previously (Acts 22).
Festus interrupts the speech at Paul’s mention of the resurrection of the dead (vv. 23–24). In Jerusalem, the crowd had stopped Paul when he claimed that by Jesus alone, without embracing Judaism and the Mosaic law, the Gentiles can be saved (Acts 22:21). Here, he has already moved past this point of his testimony (vv. 17–18).
On this occasion, the non-believing Festus stops Paul and doesn’t engage in debate (v. 24), but states that Paul is insane because of his insistence on the resurrection.
Paul responds by claiming that what he is saying is both “true and reasonable” (v. 25) and appeals to Agrippa’s greater familiarity, as a Jewish leader, with these things (v. 26). The gospel will always “box above its weight”. Aggressive, non-believing opponents are never a match for Spirit-empowered testimony. We are evidence of that.
Agrippa recognises Paul’s persuasive intent and tries to dismiss his challenge (v. 28). Paul openly responds—“I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains” (v. 29).
Paul says in Romans 10:9, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”.
Here Paul asserts the centrality of the resurrection and speaks to the closed-minded non-believer—“Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?” (v. 8).
All along the way, Paul’s obedience to his calling was costly (Acts 26:16–18). He is compelled by the love of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:14–15). Are you compelled in this way? Does your obedience cost you?