Then Agrippa said to Paul, You are permitted to speak for yourself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:…
I. INTERESTING FEATURES IN PAUL'S CHARACTER.
1. His marked courtesy (vers. 2, 3). True courtesy is —
(1) A combination of some of the best elements of human nature.
(a) A just recognition of the respect due to others.
(b) A proof that our reliance is upon the merit of our cause, and not upon brute force.
(2) An essential demand of Christianity upon all its disciples. Because —
(a) The grand law of Christianity is this: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
(b) Because Christianity demands of its disciples conformity to the example of the Lord.
(c) Because discourtesy is a violation of every instinct of a holy and meekly life.
2. Paul's candour (vers. 4-6). Candour —
(2) Implies in respect to one's life.
(a) Openness to inspection.
(b) Readiness to confess and abandon any evil.
(c) Desire to deal fairly with all.
(3) Is essential to a true Christian life.
(a) Because that to have a conscience void of offence before God and man is essential.
(b) Because concealment of facts, when necessary to be known, is inconsistent with the profession of a disciple of Christ.
3. Paul's courage (ver. 6).
(1) Courage is based on the conviction that we are right.
(2) Courage is an essential power to prosecute a godly life.
(3) True Christian courage is the product of the Holy Spirit — "Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you."
II. INSTRUCTIVE FACTS OF PAUL'S LIFE (vers 8-19).
1. The fact that the apostle had once been a bold and cruel opposer of Christ and of Christianity (vers. 9-11).
(1) His opposition was terribly cruel.
(a) "Many of the saints did I shut up in prison."
(b) "When they were put to death I gave my voice against them."
(c) "I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme."(2) His antagonism assumed the form of a real frenzy of hate.
(a) "And being exceedingly mad against them.
(b) I persecuted them even unto strange cities."
(c) This confession of hate on the part of such a man as Paul afterward became, is almost incredible; but shows the terrible power that sin in any form has over anyone who yields to its regnant sway.
2. The great fact which led to the conversion of the great apostle (vers. 12-19).
(1) He saw a supernal light (ver. 13).
(a) The well-known shekinah brightness of paradise, the Red Sea deliverance, the tabernacle mercy seat, and the Transfiguration of Jesus, is here suggested.
(2) He heard a supernatural voice (ver. 14). As the dazzling splendour of the light blinded his natural vision, so the commanding voice from heaven silenced the voices of prejudice and passion which he had so fanatically obeyed.
(3) To him appeared the Lord Jesus, which completely subdued his proud spirit, awakened his conscience to his daring sin, and wrought in him the most genuine penitence.
3. The practical disposition of the true convert (ver. 20).
(1) Prompt and implicit obedience to Christ's commands.
(2) Entire consecration to Christ, in a life of practical usefulness in promoting the truth of Christianity at whatever cost.Conclusion:
1. The conversion of Saul is a demonstration of the Divine powers of Christianity, and of the resurrection of Christ.
2. The resurrection of Christ demonstrates the grand realities which constitute the basilar facts of Christianity:
(1) The atonement of Christ.
(2) The ascension of Christ.
(3) The intercession of Christ.
(4) The ultimate triumph of Christ over every foe.
(5) The prophecy of the full-orbed glory that awaits this world of which all inspired men have foretold. Let us say, "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly."
(D. C. Hughes.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: