Three Reactions to the Gospel

Text: Luke 8:8, 18

After telling the parable of the sower, Jesus said we must hear (Luke 8:8). But it is not just important that we hear, but how we hear (Luke 8:18). Luke records three examples of those who heard Paul give his defense (Acts 25-26) – Festus, Bernice, and Agrippa. When they heard Paul, each one reacted differently.

Festus’ Reaction – Hostility

  • Festus interrupted Paul & accused him of being out of his mind (Acts 26:24)
  • Accusations were common against Jesus (John 7:19-20; 8:47-48; 10:20; Luke 7:33-35)
  • When the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, they were accused of drunkenness (Acts 2:12-13)
  • The gospel seems foolish to those who follow the wisdom of the world (1 Corinthians 1:18) – yet the gospel makes foolish the wisdom of the wise (1 Corinthians 1:19-25)
  • We should expect to see mockery against us & the gospel (Jude 17-18) – when this happens, we should not despair, but recognize that we are blessed (Matthew 5:11-12)

Bernice’s Reaction – Indifference

  • We know Bernice was present to hear the words of Paul that Festus & Agrippa heard (Acts 25:13, 23; 26:30), but we read of no reaction from her – no mockery, no defensiveness, no obedience
  • Hearing the gospel does no good if faith is not produced (Hebrews 4:2) – future destruction for those who hear, but do not obey (Matthew 7:26-27)
  • Many have no interest in hearing the gospel – they have become callous in their ignorance because of sin (Ephesians 4:17-19); their conscience has been seared from following after lies (1 Timothy 4:2); they forgot God through the pursuit of worldly wisdom (Romans 1:21-23, 28)

Agrippa’s Reaction – Almost Persuaded

  • King Agrippa told Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian” (Acts 26:28, NKJV)
  • Jesus spoke of those who were “not far from the kingdom” (Mark 12:34) – but almost and not far are not in the kingdom or in the state of salvation
  • We preach the gospel in order to persuade others to obey it (2 Corinthians 5:11) – faith comes through the word (Romans 10:17); therefore we preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2); nothing else can produce faith
  • We persuade others to be Christians – so we preach the same message as Paul & the other apostles (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 2:38-41)


  • Though these three reacted in different ways, one thing in common – they did not obey
  • We are not to be merely hearers, but doers (James 1:22)
  • We will be judged based upon our deeds (2 Corinthians 5:10)
  • If we don’t obey the gospel, regardless of the type of reaction to it, we’ll be punished (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)

(Adapted from an outline by Bryan Dockens.)

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