22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen— 23 that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.” - Acts 26:22 & 23
In this section of Acts Paul is making his defense. He is speaking boldly and frankly, we sense that his viewpoint is one of strength, not of timidity. He understands that this is an opportunity for him to witness to the Gospel and to reach people he might not have been able to reach otherwise.
Paul is standing and testifying to “small and great alike”. He is well aware that there are some very important people with him, people who are very good friends of the Emperor. He also knows that the people who serve the court, and who look on at what is happening, have stories to tell. Small and great alike are worthwhile to Paul because they are worthwhile to God.
Paul stresses the continuity of God’s help and that his current predicament has not gotten in the way of what he is being called to do. Sometimes we turn it around and allow our predicaments to stifle and stop our initiative. We need Paul’s example, here. Paul uses the example of the prophets and of Moses – examples which would be clear to every person in the room, small and great alike. Paul does not even have to elaborate. He simply mentions their names. If we said, “I am saying nothing beyond what Thomas Jefferson and George Washington said…” we understand something of the importance. Great figures of the past who represent our shared ideals are being evoked in the present moment. Paul indicates that Jesus is the fulfillment of what the prophets and Moses said would happen. His message is one of light, to enlighten all believers.
Here are some questions to ponder as you put this passage to use in your own life:
Would you say that God has helped you to this very day? What are some examples you can think of, when God has done this for you? Can we say that God has helped Wekiva Presbyterian church to this very day? Again, what things standout for you? What is Paul’s purpose (clue it is in the second half of verse 22). What is the purpose of each Christian? Why is the message “to small and great alike”?
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Dr. John A. Dalles, Pastor