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9 “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

 

Continuing his defense and testimony before King Agrippa, Paul explains why he once hated Christianity and became a primary persecutor of Christ and His church (vv. 9-11). However, he came to believe in Jesus because of His resurrection; He was a manifestation of Israel’s hope for a resurrection.

26:9

“Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

During his career as a Pharisee, Paul deemed his role was to oppose Jesus with all his might. He, as well, thought it incredible that God raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead. Before his conversion, he took the very viewpoint of the Jews who wanted to kill Jesus.

26:10

This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.

Paul executed his Pharisaical role from the authority of religious leaders in Israel. He imprisoned and put some Christians to death. He always chose to oppose them at that point in his life. Now, as a believer, instead of being his enemies, he calls Christians “saints.”

When Paul said that he cast his vote against Christians, he meant he put his opinion about believers on record with the Jews.

26:11

And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

Paul punished believers in synagogues and “compelled” them to blaspheme because he was “exceedingly enraged” against them for their beliefs. He carried this persecution even to foreign cities.

PRINCIPLE:

Conversion cannot come from external pressure.

APPLICATION:

Belief in Christ cannot come by force. It is only by the offer of hope, the hope Christ offers. This hope is grace-oriented motivation; it is what God did and does for the individual. He made salvation available through Christ’s death and resurrection and allowed an individual to embrace it by trusting in what He did. What we communicate is more important than how we deliver it, but the manner of delivery is vital to gain a hearing. Since we cannot force people to decide for Christ, persuasion under God is necessary.

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