The Epistle Reading
In this passage we hear Paul telling the story of his conversion to King Agrippa. Paul starts out by sharing his understanding of his position in the Jewish community, “I have belonged to the strictest sect of our religion and lived as a Pharisee.” Paul also interprets his current belief in the resurrection of Jesus as being consistent with position of the Pharisees, “I stand here on trial on account of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors.” Paul then describes his persecution of the church before moving on tell of his conversion, his Damascus Road experience. Paul then interprets his preaching in terms of being obedient “to the heavenly vision” and as being continuation of “what the prophets and Moses said would take place: that the Messiah must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.” (NRSV)
I am impressed by Paul’s ability to construct an argument for his cause in terms of the teachings of his opponents. I wonder how many of us work to bring this sort of structure and self-examination to our own understanding of our faith. Do we actually stop to ask ourselves, “What do I believe and why do I believe it?