Having a Testimony

Having a Testimony

A Brief overview of Acts 22-26 

Here is another large portion of the book of Acts that will cover this week. Chapter 21 abruptly finishes. Paul is about to address the mob that attacked him on the Temple grounds. He is about to give his testimony once again. Paul catches their attention by speaking to the people in their native language. He lets them know where he is from, his nationality, who his teacher was, and how he too was as zealous or even more zealous than they were regarding their desire to rid the country of apostate Jews and anyone who preached about Jesus of Nazareth.

Paul adds to his testimony parts that we had not heard before. Like when he is in Jerusalem he falls into a trance, and Jesus speaks to him, saying, “Leave Jerusalem immediately because the people here will not accept your testimony about me.” Even after many years, the people were still not open to accepting Paul’s testimony. They didn’t even hear his testimony before trying to kill him.

The Roman Commander rescued Paul from the mob but ordered Paul to be flogged and questioned. Here is where Paul takes advantage of his Roman citizenship. You can’t punish a Roman citizen without first having a formal accusation and trial. Fear comes upon those who arrest him, and Paul is released. Wanting to know what the charge was against Paul, the commander calls the chief priests to a hearing of sorts. If the commander punishes or judges a Roman citizen, he better have a good reason.
At this time, Paul can testify before the Sanhedrin (A council in Jerusalem that functioned as the central judicial authority for Jews). This Sanhedrin is the same council that determined years ago that Jesus was guilty too.

Paul, having been a member of the Pharisees, takes advantage of the situation. The Sanhedrin was composed of Pharisees and Sadducees. They didn’t share all beliefs in common, and Paul is about to exploit the doctrines they don’t agree on - the resurrection, angels, or spirits. All Paul had to do to disrupt the meeting and show them how truly powerless they were to be Jerusalem’s leaders was to mention that he was on trial because of preaching the resurrection of the dead.

Once again, the Roman commander rescues Paul from these religious leaders who would have hurt Paul with their own hands. Back in the barracks, the Lord speaks to Paul, telling him to “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify in Rome.” Paul’s ticket to Rome was through Jerusalem. That’s another reason Paul had to go to Jerusalem.

The devil was using people to kill Paul. Forty men were ready to kill Paul and had vowed not to eat or drink until they’ve done so, and they even conspired with the chief priests and elders to see that it happens. Their plan leaks out to Paul and the authorities. Swiftly, the Roman authorities transfer Paul to Caesarea under cover of night. Here he would have his case heard. His accusers would come from Jerusalem to try to get a conviction. The resources spent to try to arrest and sentence Paul was enormous. The High Priest Ananias, some of the elders, and a lawyer come to Caesarea for this occasion.

The accusations against Paul were:
  1. He is a troublemaker.
  2. He stirs up riots among the Jews all over the world.
  3. He is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect.
  4. He tried to desecrate the Temple.

Paul defends himself by giving a more accurate statement of the events that the lawyer exaggerated. Paul even gave his reason for coming to Jerusalem - to bring gifts for the poor and present offerings. He lets them know that even though he was ceremonially clean, the mob surrounds him and that it is them who should be bringing accusations, not the chief priests and elders.

Felix is the governor who is presiding over this hearing. Intrigued by Paul’s words, he and his wife Drusilla, later on, come to see Paul. As Felix hears Paul’s words, the Gospel touches his heart, but he is afraid to admit it. Felix ended leaving Paul in prison there for two years. Felix’s governorship ends, and Festus takes his place. He will take Paul’s case to the next level.

Festus allows Jewish leaders to come back up and once again plead their case against Paul. Festus asks Paul if he is willing to go to Jerusalem to stand trial. Paul refuses and repeats that he has done nothing wrong and that if any further proceedings are to take place, they take place right where he is. Festus has no right to hand Paul over, and Paul, sensing Festus’ plans, makes a formal appeal to see Caesar himself. His request is approved after Festus consults with his counselors.

In the meantime, King Agrippa and his wife visit Festus. Festus tells King Agrippa about Paul and the events that had transpired regarding Paul, the leaders from Jerusalem, and Paul’s appeal to Caesar. Festus doesn’t have anything of substance to write to the Emperor as to why he is sending Paul to him, so he is asking King Agrippa to help him come up with something. King Agrippa decides that he wants to meet Paul for himself.

King Agrippa, knowing the people and the country very well, listens intently to Paul’s defense. Paul then asks the King if he believes in the prophets, to which he responds these famous words, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” (Acts 26:28). After the hearing, both Festus and Agrippa agree that Paul is not worthy of jail or death and that Paul could go free had Paul had not appealed to Caesar.


Read Acts 22-26

  1. How versatile was Paul in his ministry?
    1. He spoke different languages (Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and possibly Latin).
    2. He was a Roman citizen and knew Roman law.
    3. He was a Pharisee and knew Jewish law.
    4. His education came under the tutelage of Rabbi Gamaliel.
    5. He was a tentmaker.
    6. Other.
  2. How does Paul’s testimony to the crowd differ from his testimony in Acts 9?
    1. In Acts 22, he focuses more on his calling and not his conversion.
    2. He defends his work with the Gentiles and shows that he is still a good Jew.
    3. Greater emphasis on the light he saw on the road to Damascus (22:6).
    4. Here he says that his companions also saw the light (22:9).
    5. Other.
  3. How does Paul use his Roman citizenship in this section?
    1. To avoid being whipped as a form of inquiry by the Romans.
    2. He used it as protection from those who were trying to kill him.
    3. He received better treatment from the Romans.
    4. He appealed to Caesar (Emperor) himself.
    5. Other.
  4. How did Paul advance his mission when he stood before the Sanhedrin? (Acts 22:30-23:11)
    1. Paul proclaimed that he had fulfilled his “duty to God in all good conscience.” (Acts 23:1 compare with Acts 24:16 and Phil. 3:6)
    2. Demonstrated the intolerance of the Jewish leaders because they slapped him before being convicted. Acts 22:2-3
    3. Paul got to the core issue that divided them all – the resurrection from the dead. Acts 23:6
    4. Confusion among his accusers made his case even more robust. Acts 23:7-11
    5. Other.
  5. What transpired while Paul was in prison in Caesarea? Acts 23:12-35
    1. The Jews back in Jerusalem tried to find ways to get him back to Jerusalem to kill him.
    2. Paul had the opportunity to come before Felix, the governor of that area.
    3. Paul goes through a legal proceeding in Caesarea with his accusers having come from Jerusalem.
    4. Paul was in prison for three years.
    5. Paul spoke before Festus and King Agrippa.
    6. Other.
  6. How did Paul’s trial with Felix go? (Acts 24)
    1. Paul was accused of causing riots and of being the leader of the Nazarene sect.
    2. Paul defended himself very eloquently without the need for a lawyer.
    3. Paul was able to convince Felix that he was innocent.
    4. Felix was so impressed with Paul that he visited him days later with his wife, Drusilla.
    5. Other.
  7. What progress, in Paul’s case, do you find under Festus’ leadership? Acts 25:1-12
    1. Festus arranged another trial with Paul’s accusers from Jerusalem. Acts 25:1-6
    2. Paul once again proves his innocence.
    3. Festus was giving in to the Jewish leaders’ pressure.
    4. Paul appeals to Caesar.
    5. Other.
  8. What does the conversation between Festus and King Agrippa reveal? Acts 25:13-22
    1. Festus had not heard about Jesus (Acts 25:19)
    2. Festus had understood that the Jewish leaders didn’t have anything of substance with which to condemn Paul.
    3. Festus didn’t know how to handle the situation or was afraid of doing the right thing.
    4. Other.
  9. How did Paul’s meeting with Festus and King Agrippa go the next day? Acts 25:23-26:23
    1. The meeting was full of pomp and circumstance, which means there was a large audience present.
    2. King Agrippa is familiar with Jewish customs, traditions, and religious matters, so Paul would speak to him on a different level.
    3. Paul gives an account starting with his youth (the first time he brings this up).
    4. Paul emphasizes the point of contention – the resurrection, and wonders why that is so hard to believe.
    5. Paul garnered more significant support for his innocence.
    6. It changed Agrippa’s circumstances more than Paul’s. He comes face to face with the gospel, and Paul appeals to his heart.
    7. He was confirming that Paul spent the last two years in prison for no good reason.
    8. Other.
  10. How solid was Paul’s defense before Festus and King Agrippa? Acts 26:1
    1. Paul gives a full account of his story from his youth to the present day.
    2. Paul presents the reasons for which he stands before them (Acts 26:6)
    3. He appealed to King Agrippa’s understanding of the Jewish religion and faith.
    4. Paul asserted that what he is presenting is true and reasonable. Paul was sharing something that was well thought through and is not something incredible.
    5. King Agrippa was beyond intrigued and most likely felt the Spirit’s tug at his heart.


Paul had essentially lost his freedom. Even though he is not confined to a cell in chains all the time. He is not free to walk freely. Felix could have let Paul free right after determining that Paul was not guilty of anything worthy of imprisonment or death. Felix leaves Paul in jail for two years out of political expediency.  Once again, I don’t hear Paul making a big issue out of this even though he alludes to it later on. He is resting on the Lord’s words that he is going to Rome. Paul may have been convinced that this was the way and means to get there.

Through his current circumstance he was able to speak to the chief priests and members of the Sanhedrin. These were many of the same people that saw Paul come up the ranks and maybe even considered him for a highly respected position. Now they come face-to-face with him but understand different circumstances - now he’s the opposition.

Paul’s chains afford him the opportunity also to interact with Roman commanders, centurions and others of the like. Later on, he gets to speak with the governor, Felix.  His encounters with these civil leaders was just about legal proceedings. Paul didn’t lose any opportunity to speak of Jesus. His whole reason for being where he was, was because of his preaching of the resurrection of Jesus. What good would his defense be if he just talked about his religious liberties and rights as a Roman citizen?

While the Romans did provide safety, room and board for some time, Paul was not completely dependent on them for his ultimate well-being. Paul ended being two years in Caesarea for no good reason, except for Felix wanting to be on good terms with the Jewish leadership.  What a way to spend two years in jail. In those two years Paul was able to have visitors and frequent visits from Felix too.

In spite of these protections, Paul appealed to his right to a trial before being whipped. He appealed for things to be done in an orderly and legal fashion. When Paul got a sense of Festus hesitancy to give him a fair judgement, Paul appeals to the Caesar himself.

"To Paul, a ruler “is God’s servant to do you good” (Rom. 13:4). If a ruler does not do that, then we can urge him to do so. Besides as representatives of a just God, we as believers are committed to combating injustice on earth. Sometimes we may even need to fight injustice against ourselves. The Bible does give us guidelines here. For example, Paul says it is better to be wronged or cheated than to go to secular courts against another believer (1 Cor. 6:6–7). But as a general rule, we can appeal to the law for our protection if we are attacked or persecuted in a way that clearly violates the law of the land." Ajith Fernando, Acts, ed. Terry C. Muck, The NIV Application Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 570.

His request was granted, but the book of Acts ends with Paul in Rome for some time but never having actually spoken with the Emperor.

How do you see things playing out for Paul? Paul does’t welcome trouble but at the same time he doesn’t hide away from it when it comes his way. Every opportunity, regardless of where it comes from or how it comes, is an opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The same Paul who couldn’t stand Christians is now a leader of the Christian church. He is not fuming in anger over the pagans, heathens and Gentiles who won’t convert to Christianity. Instead he appeals to the heart, following the example of his Lord.

Paul had left a good impression among the Romans. They heard his eloquent speeches. Not all of them agreed with him, but when they heard the arguments of the Jewish leaders and their plots to kill him, that only served to discredit themselves and to elevate Christianity. Paul defended himself with logic and reason which appealed to the Roman soldiers and governors.

Paul didn’t discriminate in sharing the gospel message. Whether they be rich or poor, government officials or common everyday people, young and old, male and female. Paul saw every human being as a person who needed to know Jesus.

This was the overarching theme in Paul’s life and he had matured and learned to surrender his all to Jesus. Paul didn’t just appear to him on the road to Damascus to stop him from persecuting, but to save him. Part of that saving was going to happen as he preached the Gospel.
  1.  What can we learn from Paul’s patience with God when God told him he was going to Rome, but it was taking years?
  2. Have you ever wondered why God brought you through something only to see how going his way opened the door to meet people, speak to people, go places, etc?
  3. Paul faced many injustices: falsely accused, left in jail for no reason, beat up for his preaching, etc. How have you dealt with injustices towards you because of your faith?


Heading to Jerusalem is what got this chain reaction going. One thing led to the other so fast and then it slowed down, so slow. One week after arriving in Jerusalem he is dragged out of the temple, beat up and saved by the Romans. He faces his accusers, nothing comes out of that, but Paul needs to go and he ends up in Caesarea. Shortly after that he stands in a trial of sorts with the governor, Felix. Then there’s a waiting period of two years. Then again, another trial with the new governor, Festus and again the same accusers. Then he’s off to Rome. 

Paul had already established churches in Asia Minor and in the regions surrounding Jerusalem. It was time to for a different kind of evangelistic ministry. He had to justify himself before religious leaders and at the same time expose governors and kings to contrast that exist between true faith and religious pretension. 

Many times, your greatest detractors will be church people. The world is looking at how we treat each other, handle difficulties, resolve conflicts, work together to solve problems, how we love each other, how we help each other, etc. There are Romans out there who will see us and wonder why people are accusing us if we’re supposedly on the same team.

The world will judge us. Paul encourages us to not take our church members to court because it becomes a spectacle and an embarrassment to the church. Fixing things internally works best. That’s not always possible but its the ideal. 

Jesus himself said it best, By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

So our GO practice for this week is to stay humble even when you are being falsely accused. When given the opportunity to speak, speak the Gospel into people’s lives of what God has done in your life and what he has called you to. Have your testimony ready. Write it out so you have it memorized in the order of things you want to say. Refine it as you share it.  

  1. Paul didn’t always share his testimony the same time every time. Write out your “big testimony” but when it's time to share it you don’t have to say the whole thing, but use the parts that are for the circumstance, time and place you are in.
  2. When speaking with people in positions of authority, both in society and in government, what spiritual words will you leave with them?
  3. Would you like to be part of a class to learn how to share your faith? (Contact Pastor Pedro at ptrinidad@carmsda.org) 

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