As we have gone through this study, we should have noticed God’s plans for His Church—as well as for Paul:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth” —Acts 1:8
But the Lord said to him, “Go, because this man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before Gentiles and kings and the people of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name” —Acts 9:15-16
The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Have courage, for just as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” —Acts 23:11
With everthing we have seen happen, none of it has hindered Him from fulfilling any of His plans or purposes. In fact, I will go so far as to say that everything that has happened, God has used to fulfill these purposes. You won’t find a better example of His sovereignty than in the midst of human opposition and failure. As our story progresses, we will see more evidence of this.
Bust so far, Luke has introduced us to some of the “Actors” in the divine drama that is played out in the Book of Acts. We have just met Ananias, Felix, Festus, and Agrippa II, and each character has provided a good sketch of their roles as they played their part. But how could have things been differently?
Many commentators tell us that King Agrippa II was the son of King Agrippa I, the Agrippa who put James to death and intended to do the same with Peter. Some of those commentators remind us that this Agrippa I was the king who the Lord struck dead with worms, because he didn’t give glory to God (but received it for himself). It was because of this “premature” death of Agrippa I, that Agrippa II didn’t succeed his father as the King of Judea. Agrippa II was only 17 when his father died, and this was deemed too young for a king, especially a King of Judea. So, instead, Judea was ruled by a governor, rather than by a king (King Agrippa II).
Instead of ruling as “King of Judea” as his father had, Agrippa II was made “king of Chalcis,” a small territory ruled by his deceased uncle, Herod of Chalcis, an area we now know as Lebanon. (Incidentally Bernice, Agrippa’s sister, had been the wife of Herod of Chalcis, but after his death, she lived with Agrippa. His other sister, Drusilla, was the wife of Felix). Years later, Nero put parts of Galilee and Perea under Agrippa II rule. This Agrippa also receive the administration of the temple and the authority to appoint the high priest.
Many regarded Agrippa II as a Jew, although he was a Jew by religion, rather than by birth. We are told that insurrection and revolution became more and more prevalent in Judea. So both Felix and Festus did all they could to put an end to these rebellions, but they weren’t entirely successful. Agrippa was loyal to Rome and to the Jewish people. So how do you do that? Have a doulte loyalty, I mean? When the Jewish revolt of A.D. 66 broke out, Agrippa made an impassioned appeal to the Jews to live in peace. He failed, but Rome rewarded him for his loyalty.
Here is where it gets interesting. Ananias, the high priest who presided at Paul’s first trial in front of the Sanhedrin in Acts 23, was replaced by the time Paul appears in front of Festus in Acts 25. This means that Agrippa was the one who replaced him. Not only that, when Rome didn’t allow Agrippa to inherit his father’s title as “King of Judea,” rule of Judea was given to a governor. While Agrippa had no official capacity when he arrived to congratulate Festus, we should remember that if God had not intervened, he could have had Festus’ authority and even more if he had become the King of Judea (something that would have happened if God hadn’t struck down his father when his son was too young to take his place).
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Story of Acts