Fear Nothing But God
Now when some days had passed, Agrippa the king and Bernice arrived at Caesarea and greeted Festus. And as they stayed there many days, Festus laid Paul's case before the king, saying, "There is a man left prisoner by Felix, and when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews laid out their case against him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him.
But I found that he had done nothing deserving death. And as he himself appealed to the emperor, I decided to go ahead and send him. But I have nothing definite to write to my lord about him. Therefore I have brought him before you all, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that, after we have examined him, I may have something to write. For it seems to me unreasonable, in sending a prisoner, not to indicate the charges against him." — Acts 25:13-15, 25-27
Now I want to describe some of the people here because it illustrates something interesting.
King Agrippa in this text is Marcus Julius Agrippa (a.k.a Herod Agrippa II) was the grandson of Herod the Great. Agrippa was the final leader in the Herodian lineage. He had three sisters. Their names were Bernice, Mariamne, and Drusilla. Now you may recall the name Druscilla because just a chapter back, we named her. She was the husband of Governor Felix. But you will also see that Bernice is mentioned here as if she was Agrippa's wife. And other credible historians do suggest or state that Agrippa and Bernice were involved in an incestual relationship. So basically, many of the parties here all have some connection with each other. But Governor Festus, who is new on the scene, is a little perplexed about handling this matter. He perceives that the Jewish leaders are being religiously vindictive, and now that Paul has put him in a bit of a predicament. And so they have no idea what to say to Emperor Nero when they send him on to Rome.
And thus, here is what I find interesting. Jewish leaders who are supposed to be people of godly character work extremely hard to unjustly condemn Paul and even plot to kill him. But the governing authorities, who are supposed to be people of ungodly character, work very hard through their process and find no reason to punish Paul. So why is this? Why do people like Felix, Festus, and Agrippa pursue Paul's case with such precision and care? It appears almost "out-of-character."
The only possible answer is that they fear the power of the emperor. Emperor Nero was known to many to be one the great tyrants of all time and was a feared man with great power. And of fear for their own life and role, these provincial kings and governors trod carefully on the present case. While they wanted to appease religious leaders, they knew that there were limits to their power. And Paul's Roman citizenship was the trump card that mediated the use of unjust power.
Fear is powerful. It drives us. But human fear is one thing, and holy fear is another. Human fear is based on a need for self-preservation and self-concern. We see human fear manifested through both the religious and governing leaders. Religious leaders are fearful that Paul's gospel will destroy their religion, infrastructure, and traditions. Governing authorities are afraid that the unjust punishment of a Roman citizen would result in vengeance from Nero.
But holy fear is entirely different. It is fear that is stirred from a love that results in reverence for God. Therefore a man motivated by holy fear is selfless and devoid of self-preservation and self-concern. This man only fears one thing — God himself.
I love this standoff between Paul and the authorities because he shows us what a resolute man with holy fear looks like. He is uncompromising. And Paul got here one step at a time battling with one human fear after another until he was able to stand before some of the most powerful men of his time. And then, as we will see, he will even share the gospel with them.
So today, let go of human fear. Stop letting human fear determine your actions and attitudes. Write down and fear you have and let it go. And then turn to holy fear, fearing God more than man. And let's do it together one step at a time until that day that God uses our fearless to produce holy fear in others.
ASK THIS: What human fear do you need to confess? (Confess it below.)
DO THIS: Fear God.
PRAY THIS: God, shatter my fears and stand by my side today.
PLAY THIS: Chris Tomlin - Whom Shall I Fear.
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Read through the Bible daily with Vince Miller.