Ever considered what it would be like to preach to a king? Some have preached to presidents. Some church historians believe Abraham Lincoln heard several gospel sermons. Brother B. C. Goodpasture preached with President Lyndon Johnson in the audience, and a preacher should be prepared to speak the word of God before kings, presidents, all. The history book of the New Testament records the apostle Paul’s sermon delivered before King Herod Agrippa (Acts 26). It’s thrilling to think about, and wouldn’t you have liked to have heard it?

The beloved apostle began his message very respectfully, expressing appreciation and respect for his audience, appealing “hear me patiently” (Acts 26:2-3). He asserted confidently that his life had been well-known by the Jews. He had been very religious, a devout Pharisee of the “strictest sect” (v 5). In that position he had persecuted Christians, something he never seemed to get over (I Tim. 1:15). His life was well-known to the Jews.

His life was well-known to God (Acts 26:13-19). The Lord had spoken to him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9). He had been called to be a minister of things seen to the Gentiles. He had done his work in good conscience (Acts 24:16), thus as he had heard and observed the persecution of Christians, his conscience had begun to goad him (Acts 26:14). Once converted to Christ he had been obedient to “the heavenly vision” (v 19). A life of proven faithfulness to the Lord is a life well-known to God.

Paul was well-known to Christians both before and after his conversion ,(vv 20-23). Sadly, he had been well-known for his persecution (Acts 9:26, 26:11). With kind exhortation of Barnabas, he was eventually accepted as a Christian by Christians and able to declare the prophecy of God fulfilled (I Cor. 2:2). He had labored long, preaching the resurrected Savior (Acts 17:31; I Cor. 15), well-known to Jews and Christians alike for his preaching the gospel is for all—including Gentiles. It’s doubtful another of his generation was more devout in proclaiming the gospel of Christ, and his devotion to Christ made him well-known to Christians.

These points he made did what every faithful preacher should do, make application to all present. Light, hope, salvation is in the resurrected Christ, but in this Paul must have built to a great crescendo because Governor Festus, also present, interrupted saying, “Paul you are beside yourself; much learning has made you mad.” No, the apostle wasn’t crazy, he responded very sensibly saying that he was speaking “words of truth and soberness” (v. 25). He appealed to the King, confident Agrippa was well aware of all he had presented. He then made the revealing observation that should both encourage and challenge every Christian. He said, “this thing was not done in a corner.” What a statement! Living for Christ should be wide open for all to see. That’s the way they did it in the first century, and that’s the way it should be today.

An invitation was extended on this occasion and directly to the King. “Do you believe the prophets, I know you do” (v 27). There was a response, “Almost you persuade me to be a Christian,” said Agrippa (v 28). Paul made a final, closing appeal, “I would to God that not only you, but all who hear me this day were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except for these bonds” (v 29).

He could have preached a lot of things. Perhaps praising the leadership of those present with a very positive fleshly appeal. He might have spoken to build self esteem or in a politically correct manner, but the Holy Spirit of God direct ed Paul to preach that which was needed to save both the King and all present. That’s the only appeal a preacher of the Gospel really has. Whether great or small, young or old, rich or poor, all need to hear the hope of the Gospel in the resurrected Savior. Even a king deserves nothing less. Without Christ, hope is gone, preaching is vain, sin reigns, and life is miserable. It was through the work of the apostle Paul that the Gospel was declared and obeyed by even those of Caesar’s household (Phil. 4:22). Preaching to a king? Preach the power of God (Rom. 1:16).

David Hill