“Almost Thou Persuadest Me … “
26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.
27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. (Acts 26:26-29)
Let me say this first …
I know that some (most) of the newer versions put a different emphasis upon the phrase: “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” It seems the newer versions translate this phrase with the thought that King Agrippa is taken aback because Paul thinks he can so easily persuade him to get saved.
NIV says: “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”
ESV says: “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?”
NET says: “In such a short time are you persuading me to become a Christian?”
RSV (precursor to the new ESV) says: “In a short time you think to make me a Christian!”
But here’s what’s interesting. ALL major translations before the end of the 1800’s translated it as the KJV does.
The Great Bible 1539
Young’s Literal Translation 1862
It may be just me but, I find that telling.
Now, to what I wanted to say ——
If you’re saved, you’ve had the heartbreaking experience of trying to tell someone about the saving message of Christ only to be turned down and rejected.
When I got saved in 1973, the first thing I did was tell my parents what had happened to me. Their response was, in many ways, nothing, nada, zilch. My mom did say she was happy for me because “you needed it.”
I didn’t know what to think when she said that. “You mean, I need it but you don’t? Why me and not you?” And that’s pretty much where it stayed all the way to the end.
However there was a time, early on, when my mom was “almost persuaded.” She was right on the cusps of accepting Christ. But … something scarred her off — for good.
You see, when I got saved, the church I was attending thought I would be a good selling point in bringing others from my generation and background to Christ. So I was (and I didn’t realize it at first) put on public display … repeatedly. I was asked, several times, to get up behind the pulpit and give my testimony. Also, every Sunday our church broadcast the service live on radio. That was pretty novel for the times.
My grandmother would listen almost every service, but never got saved. My mom listened to the services when I was going to be speaking live on the radio. Initially she liked it until it dawned on her that she might be asked, like I was, to get up and give her testimony if she got saved.
She started to cool down towards the Gospel and her need for salvation. I asked her why? What happened? And then she told me — “I’d have to get up there too and broadcast all my sins for everyone to hear. I’m not going to do that.” I tried to convince her that she would never have to do that if she didn’t want to. However, the mere thought of the potential squashed all hopes of her responding for salvation.
I was devastated. All along I thought I was doing a good thing — and I was. But, I never expected that sharing my testimony could come back and smack me in the face like that. I wonder if that’s sort of how Paul took Agrippa’s rejection.
Why did Agrippa reject the Gospel? Perhaps his sinful past and present life was too much for him to come to grips with and, possibly, publicly acknowledge?
Agrippa was in the throes of his own depth of sinful depravity. He had dug in so long he couldn’t imagine anything different. He was unable to see, because of Satan blinding him, the joy and new journey his future life could embark upon — even with the living testimony of Paul right there in front of him. Wow!
So … I take heart in the fact that if Paul couldn’t “persuade” everyone, neither will we. We have to leave it all, even the eternal destinies, in the hands of God. All we can try to do is “persuade.”
But, if God doesn’t land the hook then we can’t draw the catch into the boat. It’s that basic. God is the one, in the end, that determines who comes to Him. He has chosen to use us, but the results are entirely in His hands.
Truthfully, that’s the only thing that keeps me from losing my mind over the fact that my mom and dad (as far as I know) will never be with me in Heaven.
Hopefully for you, if you need it, this will also bring you comfort. It has me.
And too … take the opportunity every now and then to praise and thank God that, in His sovereign will, you WERE persuaded.
Thank you Heavenly Father for “persuading me to be a Christian.”