A Mournful Almost, on a Light Lip
Acts 26:28, 29
Then Agrippa said to Paul, Almost you persuade me to be a Christian.…

If these words of Agrippa were spoken satirically, as some think, or were intended to express even the essence of satire, yet after all, this would make very little difference to the standpoint from which we consider them. It would make a great difference indeed to Agrippa himself, but would scarcely diminish aught from the many lessons we may gather from them. Agrippa, too, like Festus, it would appear, felt compelled to make some pronouncement from the chair of authority, but again (notable to observe), the last word lay with Paul. And "a word" indeed it was! This episode, consisting of Agrippa's behavior on this occasion, may be justly viewed in the following lights. It illustrates -

I. THE AMAZING ENERGY OF GOSPEL TRUTH AGAINST WONDERFULLY SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLES. Many of these obstacles are most easily imagined. But take this one, as typical of the rest, that from Agrippa, being who he was, where he was, and closely surrounded by the company in which he was, should be wrung, and yet without any appearance of its being wrung, such a confession! Supposing that the language of Agrippa does not mean to own to the experience of any deep emotion or of any powerful impression produced upon him, still that Agrippa can put these words, spiced with taunting, as they then were, upon his lips, was indicative of something very different from scouting and scorning (as Festus would have done) the most distant approach to the thought.

II. THE AMAZING ENERGY OF AN OPPOSING HUMAN NATURE. For the practical issue of all was that Agrippa remained himself. He did not come over to Paul or to Paul's Master. He did remain with Festus, himself and his sins both "secret" and "presumptuous."

III. THE POINT WHERE THIS HUMAN NATURE WON. Human and sinful nature won, either at the point of "almost " - that so well-known "almost" of conviction, inborn, but for all that still-born! - or at the point of a very trifling easy gibe made to do duty for the hour, nay, it was only the moment. Paul has just, undenied, claimed Agrippa, as versed both in Law and in fact. Agrippa cannot, does not, deny it. But that his knowledge may seem to make him look a little less small in the eyes of Festus and the court around, at what he cannot deny, he can indulge in a fling - the fling that of a man who says, "You'll find it no so easy matter to make me real, true, sincere, and ready to give in to what nevertheless I cannot deny." Paul must have thought now of the heart that is in man, "We are not ignorant of its devices."

IV. THE POSITION WHICH THE SINCERE ADVOCATE OF GOSPEL TRUTH HOLDS EVES WHEN MOST OPPRESSED. For the closing language of Paul - so pitying, so meek, so Savior-like, so yearning - was indeed a triumph of God's grace and of goodness in man. At the unlikeliest moment the lips of Paul breathe out what sounds like nothing else so much as a parting benediction, a forgiving prayer, an irresistible argument of most pathetic affection. He would pour oil on the troubled waters, he would reduce the storm to a Divine calm, he would cover up all a sinful, shameful, humiliating past with the love and forgivingness and hope that must in a moment overspread all the scene, if only Agrippa were such in the salvation of Jesus as he was, less his chains. Why, there was no comparison for one moment then between the real glory of Paul and the varnished brilliance of Agrippa. So God secures his own. So Jesus is mindful of his true servants. So the Spirit puts wisdom into the heart and words into the lips of those faithful to his inspiration. And the insulted prisoner dispenses reward and punishment to his judges. - B.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

WEB: Agrippa said to Paul, "With a little persuasion are you trying to make me a Christian?"

To Those Who are Almost Persuaded
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