God’s Word for You
Acts 26:25-28 You’re trying to rush me
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, February 19, 2021
25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus. In fact, what I am speaking is true and rational. 26 The king knows about these things, and I can speak boldly to him. For I am convinced that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.” 28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are trying to rush me into becoming a Christian!”
Standing on Moses and the Prophets, Paul offered to draw King Herod into defending him. Perhaps Herod would at least confirm the words of the Prophets? Paul’s Greek brings a powerful underlying emphasis to his words: “I am (absolutely) convinced that not a single one of these things (the points I have made about Christ, his Passion, death and resurrection from the dead) have in any way escaped the King’s notice.” Then he switches from the plural “these things” to the singular “this thing.” This thing is the fulfillment of everything Moses and the Prophets spoke about. It is the singular and inevitable transition from the religion of the Old Testament Jews to the fulfillment in Jesus Christ, the Holy Christian Church. This wasn’t done “in a corner,” or in secret. For the people of Jerusalem and Judea, the Jesus movement was everywhere. It was moving all over the world. Who was there in all Israel who had not by now heard about Jesus?
Herod Agrippa knew what Paul was doing. Paul was opening the door for the king of the Jews to worship the King of the Jews. It should be a simple, inevitable step to know on the one hand that Moses said the Christ was coming, to see on the other hand that Jesus was that very Christ. Hundreds, thousands had taken that step. Christianity was growing in Judea and now throughout the Roman Empire. By winning over King Herod, Paul might make new inroads for the gospel among the Jews of Jerusalem. But at this moment, Paul was thinking only of Herod himself. He was heading to Rome, not back to Jerusalem. Still, Herod said, “You are trying to rush me into becoming a Christian!” This sentence has been translated many ways. Some take it to be ironic, or something like surprise, or disdain or even derision. Because of its excellent and classic Greek style, and purely Greek thought, it doesn’t have a one-to-one translation in English. The idea is that Paul is putting Herod “on the fast track,” which is the reason I have taken it at face value as to grammar (a simple declarative statement) and the essence if not the exact wording of the text as to content: “you are trying to rush me.” For those who are interested, the clause is, word-for-word: “In – a little / in a hurry – me – you are persuading/winning over – a Christian – to make.” Paul might have been anxious to win Herod over, and he might have been anxious to get to Rome, but he wasn’t in a hurry to end his audience with the king. “Do not be in a hurry to leave the king’s presence” was a saying of Solomon’s (Ecclesiastes 8:3), but for Paul this was a matter of a single human soul. Perhaps his preaching at this moment might fulfill David’s words: “But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God’s name will praise him” (Psalm 63:11). But Herod refused. This was his moment with the gospel and with Paul, and he turned away from Jesus, rejecting his Savior.
Perhaps Paul believed that his companion Luke would record this momentous encounter, and that his sermon would be there for other people besides this Roman governor, the Jewish King, and the king’s incestuous sister/lover. Paul’s words were indeed written down for us, and they touch millions with the gospel of the forgiveness of sins through Jesus and the promise of eternal life. When you and I speak to people about Jesus, there might be no witnesses at all, but don’t think that your words fall to the ground (1 Samuel 3:19). They may return to the one you were speaking to on another day, or in another year. Speak up for your Savior. It isn’t your argument, but God’s word, that makes the difference. May people think of you what they once said about Job’s counsel: “My words fell gently on their ears. They waited for me as for showers and they drank in my words like the spring rain” (Job 29:22-23). Be a fountain, a spring, a tap; let the word of Christ flow from you for whoever is listening. It isn’t the tap that gets the praise, but the water. Christ is the water. Just let his words flow. The soul saved is the prize.
“Whate’er the course, the end is the renown”
(All’s Well that Ends Well 4,5,36).
Pastor Timothy Smith