Lesson

Testifying Before Rulers (21-26)

Bible Passage: Acts 21-26

This is an unusual sermon because it covers the events of several chapters of Acts. There is too much here to read all of it, and you would be best served choosing a portion to read and summarising the rest. The reason these chapters are being covered in one sermon is because they belong together as one narrative block and make most sense when this story is thought of as a whole.

Opposition and Persecution: The theme of these chapters is Paul being opposed, arrested and facing trial for his ministry before a string of different rulers. As he was en route to Jerusalem, Paul was warned by multiple believers not to go, as they had prophetic words that if he made the journey he would be tied up and bound. Paul did not contest these words, but he did disagree with the application of them. Even knowing that persecution would come, going to Jerusalem was still the priority for Paul, and he was ready to suffer and die for the name of Jesus. It is not the case that every believer suffers persecution all of the time, but readiness to suffer for the gospel is part of what it is to be Christian, and Paul’s boldness in face of opposition is an example for us all to follow.

The Power of Testimony: As Paul stands before first the Roman Tribune, and then Felix the governor, then his successor Festus, and finally King Agrippa, his approach every time is the same: he tells his story. Paul recounts what God has done in his life, how Jesus met with him on the road to Damascus, and his ministry since. As he tells the story he does so in the context of his current trial, and he frames it in a way to answer the questions he needs to address, and yet the basic content is the same. Testimony is powerful, and it is is a vehicle to share truth in a way that is difficult to deny given that it is based on experience. All believers have testimonies of what God has done in our lives, and it is good to be ready to share them when opportunities arise.

The Priority of the Gospel: Despite his imprisonment, Paul did not lose sight of his central priority of sharing the gospel. As he spoke to King Agrippa in chapter 26, Paul move from sharing about his experiences to asking Agrippa about his own beliefs. He was bold enough to pose the question, and when Agrippa asked directly, Paul has honest about the fact that his desire that the king too would come to faith. Asking questions is another great tool at our disposal, and we should follow the lead of Paul in keeping the priority of sharing the gospel and leading others to faith in the conversations we have with those around us.

Potential Applications:

  • This is a great opportunity to teach people how to briefly share their testimony. What was life like before you knew Jesus, how did you come to know Jesus, and what has changed since is a great framework to use.
  • Challenge people to think about their own evangelism and pray that God gives opportunities to share their faith with those who they encounter.