“No Man Can Serve Two Masters…” Matthew 6:24(a)


In chapter 26 of the Book of Acts we find the Apostle Paul defending himself before King Agrippa. And to properly identify this particular king, Herod Agrippa II, we need to understand that he was the great grandson of Herod the Great, the one who ruled over Judea at the time Jesus Christ was born. His father, Herod Agrippa I, was responsible for killing James and imprisoning Peter. Also it is important to note that their wicked “family tree” is believed to have been Idumean, making them the descendants of Esau—the “profane” (Heb.12:16) son of Isaac who sold his spiritual birthright for a bowl of beans!


And this king was every bit as wicked as his predecessors. His consort Bernice was his sister and their incestuous relationship was said to have been the talk of Rome. Previously she had been the mistress of Emperor Vespasian and then later his son Titus, but she always returned to her brother. Outstanding couple, were they not?


So Paul faced a daunting task in trying to convince this despicable excuse for a man that he was innocent of the charges leveled against him by the Jews. And in exercising his right as a Roman citizen to appeal directly to Caesar, thereby circumventing any possible ruling by the king, it appears Agrippa may have been peeved by that decision and insisted on hearing what he had to say.


The details of Paul’s defense begin at Acts chapter 25 and verse 13:


“Now after an interval of some days, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus [to welcome him and wish him well]. 14 And while they remained there for many days, Festus acquainted the king with Paul’s case, telling him, There is a man left a prisoner in chains by Felix; 15 And when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me about him, petitioning for a judicial hearing and condemnation of him. 16 But I replied to them that it was not the custom of the Romans to give up freely any man for punishment before the accused had met the accusers face to face and had opportunity to defend himself concerning the charge brought against him. 17 So when they came here together, I did not delay, but on the morrow took my place on the judgment seat and ordered that the man be brought before me. 18 [But] when the accusers stood up, they brought forward no accusation [in his case] of any such misconduct as I was expecting. 19 Instead they had some points of controversy with him about their own religion or superstition and concerning one Jesus, Who had died but Whom Paul kept asserting [over and over] to be alive. 20 And I, being puzzled to know how to make inquiries into such questions, asked whether he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and there be tried regarding them. 21 But when Paul had appealed to have his case retained for examination and decision by the emperor, I ordered that he be detained until I could send him to Caesar. 22 Then Agrippa said to Festus, I also desire to hear the man myself. Tomorrow, [Festus] replied, you shall hear him. 23 So the next day Agrippa and Bernice approached with great display, and they went into the audience hall accompanied by the military commandants and the prominent citizens of the city. At the order of Festus Paul was brought in. 24 Then Festus said, King Agrippa and all the men present with us, you see this man about whom the whole Jewish people came to me and complained, both at Jerusalem and here, insisting and shouting that he ought not to live any longer. 25 But I found nothing that he had done deserving of death. Still, as he himself appealed to the emperor, I determined to send him to Rome. 26 [However] I have nothing in particular and definite to write to my lord concerning him. So I have brought him before all of you, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after [further] examination has been made, I may have something to put in writing. 27 For it seems to me senseless and absurd to send a prisoner and not state the accusations against him” Acts 25:13-27 (Amplified Bible).


Even though under Roman law a ruling by Agrippa was a dead issue at that point, I do not know if Paul had any choice but to argue his case before him. And how he went about it is most interesting—especially in view of the fact that he knew the king could not declare him innocent and relieve him from having to appear before Caesar. So why did he go to such lengths in trying to prove his case when it was pretty much a waste of time?


We must remember that Paul was specifically commissioned by the risen Lord to take the Gospel message to the Gentiles. And he was definitely on his way to Rome, the heart of the Gentile world, but since a large group of Jews was assembled to hear the proceedings that zealous preacher took full advantage of his “captive audience!” 


So in verses 1 through 11 of chapter 26, Paul tells the king about his early life and the fact that he had been a Pharisee who literally persecuted the people of the “way” (something he told the Jewish mob when he was arrested):


“[Yes] I harassed (troubled, molested, and persecuted) this Way [of the Lord] to the death, putting in chains and committing to prison both men and women” Acts 22:4 (Amplified Bible).


Then Paul had this to say about his sudden change of heart and subsequent actions:


When on the road at midday, O king, I saw a light from heaven surpassing the brightness of the sun, flashing about me and those who were traveling with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew tongue saying to me, Saul, Saul, why do you continue to persecute Me [to harass and trouble and molest Me]? It is dangerous and turns out badly for you to keep kicking against the goads [to keep offering vain and perilous resistance]. 15 And I said, Who are You, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting. 16 But arise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, that I might appoint you to serve as [My] minister and to bear witness both to what you have seen of Me and to that in which I will appear to you, 17  Choosing you out [selecting you for Myself] and delivering you from among this [Jewish] people and the Gentiles to whom I am sending you— 18 To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may thus receive forgiveness and release from their sins and a place and portion among those who are consecrated and purified by faith in Me. 19 Wherefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision, 20 But made known openly first of all to those at Damascus, then at Jerusalem and throughout the whole land of Judea, and also among the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works and live lives consistent with and worthy of their repentance. 21 Because of these things the Jews seized me in the temple [enclosure] and tried to do away with me. 22 [But] to this day I have had the help which comes from God [as my ally], and so I stand here testifying to small and great alike, asserting nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses declared would come to pass— 23 That the Christ (the Anointed One) must suffer and that He, by being the first to rise from the dead, would declare and show light both to the [Jewish] people and to the Gentiles” Acts 26:13-23 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).


At this point Porcius Festus, the Governor of Judea, interrupted the proceedings and accused Paul of being insane! He was shocked that a learned scholar like Paul would profess to believe in a literal resurrection from the dead—a concept no intelligent Roman would even consider, much less accept:


“And as he thus proceeded with his defense, Festus called out loudly, Paul, you are mad! Your great learning is driving you insane! 25 But Paul replied, I am not mad, most noble Festus, but I am uttering the straight, sound truth. 26 For the king understands about these things well enough, and [therefore] to him I speak with bold frankness and confidence. I am convinced that not one of these things has escaped his notice, for all this did not take place in a corner [in secret]” Acts 26:24-26 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).


And in a summation that would make a “dream team” of defense attorneys proud, the Apostle Paul rests his case by putting Agrippa between the proverbial rock and a hard place!


The facts concerning the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ was common knowledge throughout Jerusalem and the surrounding area because none of it took place secretly “in a corner.” The Roman soldiers guarding the tomb had witnessed supernatural events that scared them out of their wits. And to make matters much worse, they knew they would be put to death by their superiors because the body was missing. So in a state of frantic desperation they turned to the Jewish leadership for help.


Why do you suppose those hardened soldiers would appeal to the very ones who had insisted upon a guard being placed at the tomb in the first place? The Jews hated the Romans, so the only plausible explanation is obvious—they knew with a high degree of certainty that the evidence was so overwhelming their story would be accepted as legitimate. And when all was said and done, they were not only given a considerable sum of money to keep quiet about it (Matthew 28:11-14), but were reassured that even if the Roman governor found out they (the chief priests) would intervene to keep them from being punished. Does it make any sense that the priests would have acted in that manner if there had been any doubt in their minds?


What was the evidence that was so powerful it could not be refuted? Simply that the burial shroud (the linen strips with which the Lord’s body was wrapped) was an empty “cocoon” and only a supernatural resurrection would have left them undisturbed!


So by the time the soldiers had met with the Jewish leadership, untold numbers of people—along with the Lord’s disciples—had witnessed the evidence and the soldier’s claim that the body had been stolen would not have been taken seriously. That is why verse 15 of Matt. 28 tells us the whole thing was “the talk of the town” at the time the epistle was written.


And because of that common knowledge, Paul set his trap for Agrippa.


“King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? [Do you give credence to God’s messengers and their words?] I perceive and know that you do believe. 28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, You think it a small task to make a Christian of me [just offhand to induce me with little ado and persuasion, at very short notice]. 29 And Paul replied, Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you, but also all who are listening to me today, might become such as I am, except for these chains. 30 Then the king arose, and the governor and Bernice and all those who were seated with them; 31 And after they had gone out, they said to one another, This man is doing nothing deserving of death or [even] of imprisonment. 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, This man could have been set at liberty if he had not appealed to Caesar” Acts 26:27-32 (Amplified Bible, emphasis mine).


By insisting that Agrippa believed the Old Testament Scriptures and thus accepted what they proclaimed about the Messiah, Paul shrewdly put the king in an untenable political situation. Because if he said he did not believe the Prophets he would enrage his Jewish subjects and if he admitted to belief his Roman friends would think him foolish! So being the consummate politician that he was, Agrippa deflected Paul’s comments by rejecting Jesus Christ.


Of course his reply pleased the Jews present and at the same time it did no harm to his reputation with the Romans. But even though King Agrippa was morally reprehensible and had made many grievous mistakes in his life, this attempt at “saving face” was by far the worst because it sealed his fate before a holy God.


Is it possible that you are about to make the same one?


If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.

If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.

We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order Kingdom of Antichrist in their daily news.

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