By Jack Eberle
In Acts 26:1, Agrippa said to Paul, “Thou are permitted to speak for thyself.” Paul is speaking through verse 23. There is much explanation of the circumstances, which had gotten Paul to that point. In verses 13-18, Paul speaks of the great light and voice which spoke to him. In verse 16 the key word “both” appears, indicating his two ministries. Verse 25 leads to the quotation of words from Isaiah 6. Paul’s first ministry continues until its culmination in Acts 28:28, the “Great Divide” of the Scriptures. Paul knows that his duties will be somewhat different now because he will be carrying the message of salvation to the gentiles and, “They WILL HEAR it…” (Acts 28:28).
Paul does not leave Rome at this point but will remain somewhere in this vicinity to continue to preach. Yet, he will begin writing and will write some epistles to believing gentile groups.
Ephesians 3:9 throws light on what he is writing. “And to make ALL men see what is the dispensation [word should be ‘administration’] of the MYSTERY.” So the second member of the “both” comes into view. Now Paul will speak under the aegis of the Great God, Who now wishes that ALL will hear Paul’s message. It might be fairly stated that Paul’s latter seven epistles are basically built around this command. Paul, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, writes, travels, and speaks regularly of these great truths. Things are spoken of here which no other Scriptures reveal. Ephesians speaks of a ONE body. It speaks five times of “in the upon-heavenlies”. Paul’s remaining epistles are the warp and woof of his second ministry, the other end of the “both” he referenced in Acts.
God’s earthly people, the Jews are set aside: too much gainsaying and waffling on God’s Word. Isaiah surely understood the meaning. The prophets in general carried the message to them, but His great plan turns an age as we walk into the “age of the mystery”. God’s earthly people will have time to mourn and reread the prophets. They will have time to mourn their bad decisions and their rejection of their Messiah, whom they were in such a rush to crucify. They wanted Him out of the way. They had their own way to pursue. But the path led to loss and distress. Though He hung for His beloved on the cross, their days of self-righteousness, greed and ignoring of their God and rejecting His necessary and passionate death continued. But God loves His own and will once again honor those faithful of the tribes.
Paul was the great and humble man His Lord and King used for His great glory to usher His blood-bought ones through the direction of the Holy Spirit on the path of righteousness.
By Jack Eberle