Now for the Good News
Paul has rehearsed his former life in Judaism and his blind zeal in persecuting the Church of Jesus Christ. Now he turns to the Good News of how Jesus saved him. The last time Paul offered his testimony, it didn’t go well, but that was before the mob in Jerusalem (22:1-23). Now he is before the Roman governor and the king and his wife, people before whom he may well expect more dignified treatment. We have heard this story before so we do not need to spend much time with it now. But I will focus on two things. The first is that Jesus considers persecution of his Church to be persecution of himself: “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!” (Psalm 105:15). This is graphically illustrated in the New Testament by calling the Church his body of which Christ is the head—which expresses not a metaphor but a spiritual reality (1 Corinthians 12:27; Colossians 1:18). Second is our Lord’s words to Saul: “It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” A goad was a stick used to prod oxen; when they kicked, the driver would use the goad more vigorously. The proverb was a reference to Paul’s fighting a losing battle against Christ and his Church, which even the gates of hell cannot stand against, let alone a man filled with blind rage (Matthew 16:18).
That said I would like to turn to the other matters Paul mentioned. He repeats before the king what he said which so angered the mob—that God was sending him to the Gentiles to testify to the things that Christ Jesus had shown him. This was all so that the Gentiles might hear the message of salvation and believe. But listen to the way Paul describes the results of the gospel when it is met with saving faith: “To open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” Let us enumerate these results for ease of understanding: 1) The opening of the eyes; 2) turning from darkness to light; 3) and from the power of Satan to God; 4) receiving forgiveness of sins; 5) and a place among those sanctified by faith in Christ. In this one sentence, saving faith results in sight (by which is meant understanding of spiritual things and matters of eternity), liberation (from Satan’s power), forgiveness, and sanctification. And we should mention that Paul adds later that these do deeds in keeping with their repentance. This was the wonderful message of salvation that Paul preached, scorned by Jews, considered madness by Festus the Gentile, and met with unbelief by royalty. It’s still just as wonderful today, and sadly still just as rejected.