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Sketches From The Life of Paul

by Ellen G. White

Chapter 23: Address Before Agrippa.

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Part:  A  B  C

As Paul had appealed to Caesar, it was the duty of Festus to see that he was sent to Rome. Some time passed, however, before a suitable ship could [p. 253] be provided, and as other prisoners were to be sent with Paul, the consideration of their cases also occasioned some delay. This delay gave Paul an opportunity to present the reasons of his faith before the principal men of Caesarea, both Jews and Gentiles, and also before the last of the Herods who bore the title of Jewish kings.

"After certain days King Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea, to salute Festus." Knowing that Agrippa was well versed in the laws and customs of the Jews, Festus during this visit called his attention to the case of Paul, as a prisoner left in bonds by Felix. Agrippa's interest was aroused by the account which Festus gave of the case, and he expressed a desire to see and hear Paul for himself. Accordingly the next day was fixed upon as the time for such an interview. Paul was not now to defend himself before a new tribunal, but merely to gratify the curiosity of a private audience; to furnish an hour's entertainment for the procurator's distinguished guests, and for an invited company representing the wealth and nobility of Caesarea. The chief officers of the army were to be present, and also the leading citizens of the town, and Festus determined to make it an occasion of the most imposing display, in honor of his visitors.

In all the pomp and splendor of royalty, Agrippa and Bernice went to the audience-room, attended by a train of followers in the costly apparel of Eastern display. Proudly the haughty ruler with his beautiful sister swept through the assembly, and seated himself by the procurator's side. At his command, Paul, still manacled as a prisoner, was led in, and the king gazed with cold curiosity upon him, now bowed and pale from [p. 254] sickness, long imprisonment, and continual anxiety.

What a contrast was there presented! Agrippa and Bernice were destitute of the traits of character which God esteems. They were transgressors of his law, corrupt in heart and in life. God and angels abhorred their course of sin. But because they possessed, in a limited degree, power and position, they were the favorites of the world. That aged prisoner, standing chained to his soldier guard, presented nothing imposing or attractive in his dress or appearance, that the world should pay him homage. Yet this man, apparently without friends or wealth or position, had an escort that worldlings could not see. Angels of Heaven were his attendants. Had the glory of one of those shining messengers flashed forth, the pomp and pride of royalty would have paled before it; king and courtiers would have been stricken to the earth, as were the Roman guards at the sepulcher of Christ. All Heaven was interested in this one man, now held a prisoner for his faith in the Son of God. Says the beloved John: "The world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not." The world knows not Christ, neither will it know those who exemplify Christ. They are sons of God, children of the royal family; yet their princely claims are not perceived by the world. They may excite their curiosity, but they are not appreciated or understood. They are to them uninteresting and unenvied.

Festus himself presented Paul to the assembly, in these words: "King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem and also here, [p. 255] crying that he ought not to live any longer. But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him. Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O King Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write. For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him."

King Agrippa now gave Paul liberty to speak for himself. The apostle knew of how little worth are the outward circumstances of worldly wealth and position, and he was not disconcerted by the brilliant display or the high rank of that titled audience. The imposing dress of the procurator and his guests, the swords of the soldiers, and the gleaming armor of their commanders, could not for a moment daunt his courage or disturb his self-control. Stretching forth his manacled right hand, he said: "I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews. Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews; wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently."

Part:  A  B  C

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