19 “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why the Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But I have had God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen– 23 that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” Acts 26:19-23 (NIV)
Prior to these verses, the Apostle Paul had held been in prison under trumped up charges. He was now pleading his case with King Herod Agrippa and had just finished telling about his experience on the road to Damascus where he was converted to Christianity and was called by God to take the Christian message to the Gentiles (non-Jewish people).
Paul declared to King Agrippa that his first message was to preach to all people that they should repent and turn to God. Paul didn’t choose to gloss over this key message of the Christian faith. All people needed to repent of all their sins, and in addition, all those who did repent should prove the sincerity of their repentance by how they lived their lives. It was this message that enraged the Jews who had put Paul in prison.
Paul further defended his confidence in his message by declaring that everything that had happened to Jesus was prophesied many years earlier by Moses and the prophets, as he re-stated the facts “that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” (verse 23)
Each of the scripture passages this week have echoed the same theme, the need for all people to repent. Let us pray with the Psalmist, “Create in me a pure heat, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 (NIV)
Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green
Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.