But, how Paul told his story follows the rules of rhetoric, the means of persuasion and proof: Ethos, Logos, Pathos.
Paul was not about to launch into a defense that could release him from prison, or from his chains. He was about to launch into the story of his conversion and calling, one that would require a life-altering response from the dignitaries arrayed before him.
I was listening to a TED talk, and became electrified when I heard described five basic, foundational innate conditions all humans are born with, a sort of programming grid upon which morality is written:
Jesus gave a great answer, really., but that’s not what left them all “utterly amazed.” Give a listen, and find out what Jesus said that made them drop their jaws.
This was the word from the Lord they had been longing to hear. After their sackcloth and ashes, their weeping and mourning, weakened from their fasts, and sacrifices, and prayers, they longed with every fiber of their being to hear some token of God’s love and mercy towards them.
Festus must have felt a huge wave of relief, knowing Agrippa and Berenice could give him the full story, tightly knit as they were with Felix and Drusilla. It made all the sense in the world for him to wait just a few days for their arrival, then have them help him adjudicate what was to be done with Paul.
Philosophers have managed to prove God exists through logic – Aristotle, Plato, Descartes, Immanuel Kant, Pascal, and many others. Some of their proofs are famous. But in the case of faith, God is not an argument, or a concept. The Lord is a living being Who desires relationship with you and me. The question is, do you and I desire relationship with God?
God showed Paul his destiny one step at a time. The process itself shaped him, and made him ready for his destiny. God molded Paul into the person he needed to be to fulfill what the Lord had planned for him.
Childhood dreams and childhood vows drive us a lot more than we realize. In this YouTube talk, we’re going to see how the disciples’ theology drove them a lot more than they realized, too.
Paul worked from the teachings of Jesus. Everything Paul wrote must be sifted through the Gospels, or it won’t read right. Jesus was very clear—a point we have tragically ignored for most of Christendom’s existence—that we are not to rule over anyone within the kingdom.