Bible Study Worksheet – September 20, 2015



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Victoria Fellowship Church
International & Interdenominational
Bible Study Worksheet – September 20, 2015
Theme: Responses to the Word

Topic: Festus and Agrippa

Main Texts: Acts 26:1-32

Key Verse: Acts 26:20b – “ … Stop sinning and turn to God! Then prove what you have done by the way you live.” (NIV)

Introduction

Last Sunday, in our study of Paul’s encounter with Governor Felix,  we saw the fulfilment of the prophecy regarding Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem, his appearance before Governor Felix in Caesarea, and how he was left in prison for two years because he would not bribe the governor. Our key learning points from that study include:

  • God could reveal impending suffering to His children, not so they would pray against it, but that they should be prepared to face it; He does not always prevent suffering even when we pray against it
  • It is particularly challenging to minister the Gospel to those who are already acquainted with it but have not yielded their lives to Christ because they fear the consequence on their earthly status
  • We will sometimes face unjust suffering and be pressured to compromise our faith and integrity to secure our freedom. We need wisdom and the fortitude of The Holy Spirit to remain aligned to God in such situations.

This Sunday, we will be looking at two dignitaries in Paul’s encounters – Governor Festus and King Agrippa. Festus had succeeded Felix as governor of Judea. The very first challenge he faced was what to do with Paul – the prisoner he had inherited from Felix. On his first encounter with Paul, the apostle appealed to Emperor Caesar in Rome. This put Festus in a bind as he didn’t know what offence he would tell the Emperor that Paul had committed. He decided to pick the brain of his august visitor, King Agrippa. The conversations revealed the struggles in the minds of these dignitaries. Key learning points from the study should include:

  1. Obedience to God may well prolong our suffering as we may sometimes have to navigate a tortuous legal process, but we must continue to assure ourselves that God is in charge
  2. There will always be people to whom the Gospel makes no logical sense, and there will be those who see sense in it, are at the threshold of receiving it, but resist it nevertheless
  3. Our objective in sharing the Gospel is to lead people to understand God’s plan of salvation. Only God’s grace leads those who so understand to salvation.

Discussion

Governor Felix had handed over Apostle Paul as a prisoner, to his successor Festus. On Festus’ maiden visit to Jerusalem, the Jews and their religious leaders had again demanded for Paul be sent back to Jerusalem – ostensibly to face charges, but in reality, with a view to ambushing and killing him on his way – Acts 25:3. Festus declined sending Paul to Jerusalem but instead asked the accusers to come to Caesarea to present their case against Paul. Paul’s accusers followed Festus to Caesarea and make their case. After listening to Paul’s defence, Festus was not convinced that Paul had done any wrong. In the course of his defence, Paul requested to be sent to Emperor Caesar in Rome for trial. It was today’s equivalent of appealing to the Supreme Court. However, in sending Paul to Rome, Festus would have to state Paul’s alleged offence – which he did not believe existed. To help him in this regard, he called Paul to state his case before his (Festus’) visiting King Agrippa.

a) Why do you think Paul appealed to Caesar – a process that would further prolong his case? Do you see any parallel between the circumstance that led to Paul’s appeal and the situation in your country’s judiciary today?

Acts 9:10-16 tells us what God told Ananias about Paul and his future ministry following conversion. Paul later in Galatians 1:15-16 made reference to what God told him in this regard. However, it was before King Agrippa (Acts 26:13-18) that he gave the detailed message he received from God concerning his ministry.

“It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” – Acts 26:14b. The Good News translation renders it thus: “You are hurting yourself by hitting back, like an ox kicking against its owner’s stick.” Give examples today of how God’s move is being obstructed in a manner that amounts to kicking “against the goads”.

Paul’s defence – or rather, sermon – before Agrippa (and Festus) shows Paul drawing from incontrovertible scriptural truths, to establish the Gospel message. The two dignitaries reacted differently to the message.

b) What specific statement (see v23) of Paul prompted Festus to say he (Paul) was out of his mind and why?

c) What elements of the Gospel make no sense to people like Festus today, and how do those who come to Christ deal with such issues in their minds to come to Christ? d) King Agrippa’s remarked to Paul: “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”. What do you think was going on in Agrippa’s mind that prompted this remark and what does this say about many who hear the Gospel today?

We have no record that Agrippa eventually accepted the Gospel to which Paul brought him to understand. But the Christian’s mandate in witnessing is to lead people to a point of understanding.

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Prayer:

Father, we pray for those we encounter who are struggling to make sense of the Gospel, that your grace may reach them to open the eyes of their understanding and receive your salvation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.