Posted, July 19, 1999, Proofed, October 28, 1998
Researching for editing and completing my book on Romans 13 (I added vv. 6, 7 to it), I encountered a reference to King Agrippa's speech to the Jews of his day. I found it extremely interesting, so I reproduce it here for your edification.1
BTW, "Romans 13, Where is the Line Drawn" is now ready if you would like a copy. Not counting the index, it contains over 70, 8½ x 11 spiral bound pages. "Who is Israel/The Conversion of Israel" is also ready. It contains over 90, 8½ x 11 spiral bound pages, plus 6 double column pages of index. The "Who is Israel" section was motivated by the "Identity" movement's claim that the Anglo-Saxon race makes up the "lost tribes" of Israel. "The Conversion of Israel" portion deals with Ez. 39:22-29, Zech. 12:9-14 and Rom. 11:11-31. The book deals throughly, from the word of God, with the modern idea that there is still a literal race of fleshly "Israelites" to be regathered and converted. Both books, "Romans 13..." and "Who is Israel...," are in a continual state of editing for correct gamer and punctuation. Neither have yet had the hours invested for serious proofing. They are laser copies at this point.
King Agrippa's speech was an effort to dissuade the Jews from revolting against Rome, the nation to whom they were captive. The speech sounds like one that might be given today to dissuade Nationalists who are intent on revolting against any oppressive civil power. Though a pagan, Agrippa's charge against the Nationalists was in accord with God's word. In fact, reading his speech, one would almost think he was a Bible believing, hell-fire and damnation preacher--his speech to the Nationalists was more Scriptural than 95% of all messages going out from "God's men" today. The vast majority of today's "Christian pastors" refuse to admit what King Agrippa told the Nationalists--that is, their problem was not with Rome, but their problem was with their God. Man's problem is not with oppressors in high places; his problem is his war against God and his law. Thus his problem with oppressors will not be solved until his problem with God and his word is solved through genuine conversion in Christ our Lord.
Agrippa was no "dummy." He had his finger on the pulse of the Jewish nation, and was very familiar with Israelite history. Wasting no words, he clearly identified the problem--he told the Nationalists Jews that their present problems resulted from their failure to stand against the small things when they had the freedom and power to do so. The result of their failure was their present bondage to Rome. Now, Agrippa argued, it is foolish to try to do what they refused to do when they had the chance.
But the Nationalist's mind was made up, and they rejected Agrippa's warning. They chose instead to continue their war against God's law-word, and were total inhalation at the hands God's army, pagan Rome.
For those who have a copy of Josephus, you can find this speech in Wars, Book 2, Chap. 16, Sect. 4, 5. For those who do not have a copy, you need to get one. (It is also on Ages Software, "The Master Christian Library" and the "Reformation History Library." See www.ageslibrary.com, or call 1 800 297 4307.)
We will introduce Agrippa's speech with the translator's footnote for Sect. 4, concerning the authenticity of Josephus' account of the speech:
* In this speech of king Agrippa we have an authentic account of the extent and strength of the Roman empire when the Jewish war began. And this speech, with other circumstances in Josephus, demonstrates how wise and how great a person Agrippa was, and why Josephus elsewhere calls him ..., a most wonderful, or admirable man, Centr. Ap. I, 9. He is the same Agrippa who said to Paul, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian," Acts xxvi, 28; and of whom St. Paul said, "He was expert in all the customs and questions of the Jews," v 3. See another imitation of the limits of the same Roman empire, Of the War, b. iii, ch. v, sect. 7. But what seems to me very remarkable here is this, that when Josephus, in imitation of the Greeks and Romans, for whose use he wrote his Antiquities, did himself frequently compose the speeches which he put into their mouths, they appear, by the politeness of their composition, and their flights of oratory, to be not the real speeches of the persons concerned, who usually were no orators, but of his own elegant composition. The speech before us is of another nature, full of undeniable facts, and composed in a plain and unartful, but moving way, so it appears to be king Agrippa's own speech, and to have been given Josephus by Agrippa himself, with whom Josephus had the greatest friendship. Nor may we omit Agrippa's constant doctrine here that this Roman empire was raised and supported by Divine Providence; and that therefore it was in vain for the Jews, or any others, to think of destroying it. Nor may we neglect to take notice of Agrippa's solemn appeal to the angels, here used; the like appeals to which we have in St. Paul, I Tim. v, 22, and by the apostles in general, in the form of the ordination of bishops, Constitut. Apost. viii, 4.
First, this was the Agrippa before whom Paul stood and witnessed the Christian faith.
Second, Agrippa was an expert in all the customs and questions of the Jews, which Paul readily confessed.
Third, Agrippa contended that Rome, who was obviously oppressive to the Jews, was raised up by God because the Jews rebelled against God. Therefore, said Agrippa, to resist Rome, who was God's minister of justice against Israel's rebellion against himself, was futile--in fact, it was resistance against God himself.
The following speech by Agrippa shows that he was a very wise man, and certainly had his finger on the situation. Josephus has it as one long paragraph. We have broken it up with comments about the more obvious points. The "thinking person" will easily find many more points, and will wonder why I did not mention them.
4. * "Had I perceived that you were all zealously disposed to go to war with the Romans, and that the purer and more sincere part of the people did not propose to live in peace, I had not come out to you, nor been so bold as to give you counsel; for all discourses that tend to persuade men to do what they ought to do is superfluous, when the hearers are agreed to do the contrary. But because some are earnest to go to war because they are young, and without experience of the miseries it brings; and because some are for it, out of an unreasonable expectation of regaining their liberty, and because others hope to get by it, and are therefore earnestly bent upon it; that in the confusion of your affairs they may gain what belongs to those that are too weak to resist them, I have thought proper to get you all together, and to say to you what I think to be for your advantage; that so the former may grow wiser, and change their minds, and that the best men may come to no harm by the ill conduct of some others. And let not any one be tumultuous against me, in case what they hear me say do not please them; for as to those that admit of no cure, but are resolved upon a revolt, it will still be in their power to retain the same sentiments after my exhortation is over; but still my discourse will fall to the ground, even with relation to those that have a mind to hear me, unless you will all keep silence. I am well aware that many make a tragical exclamation concerning the injuries that have been offered you by your procurators ("an official of ancient Rome who managed the financial affairs of a province or acted as governor of a lessor province," e.g., tax collector, ed.), and concerning the glorious advantages of liberty; but before I begin the inquiry, who you are that must go to war, and who they are against whom you must fight,--I shall first separate those presences that are by some connected together; for if you aim at avenging yourselves on those that have done you injury, why do you pretend this to be a war for recovering your liberty? but if you think all servitude intolerable, to what purpose serve your complaints against your particular governors? for if they treated you with moderation, it would still be equally an unworthy thing to be in servitude. Consider now the several cases that may be supposed, how little occasion there is for your going to war. Your first occasion is, the accusations you have to make against your procurators: now here you ought to be submissive to those in authority, and not give them any provocation: but when you reproach men greatly for small offences, you excite those whom you reproach to be your adversaries, for this will only make them leave off hurting you privately, and with some degree of modesty, and to lay what you have waste openly. Now nothing so much damps the force of strokes as bearing them with patience; and the quietness of those who are injured, diverts the injurious persons from afflicting.
First, he cuts through the smoke and mirrors, pointing out that men whose minds are made up cannot be persuaded otherwise.
Second, only the young and foolish want to go to war. Notice he said, "unreasonable expectation of regaining their liberty." He will proceed to show how "unreasonable" it was for the Jews to think they could regain "their liberty" through war against their oppressor, Rome.
Third, the reason for going to war was against the "injuries" perpetrated by Roman representatives, saying that all "servitude" was "intolerable." However, their stand against Roman oppression was inconsistent, for they had no problem with "servitude" when a particular governor treated then with "moderation." Thus, Agrippa told them, evidently, that they were going to war out of vengeance, so why were they claiming it was to regain liberty?
This writer despises "servitude" to oppressive, wicked civil authorities (and foreign troops) as much as any other "red-blooded" American. This writer also despises "servitude" to the money lenders, so he keeps a low standard of living, so he does not have to live in "servitude" to lenders. (Pr. 22:7; though this pastor is a "two car" family, both Fords have well over 200,000 miles on them.) How right Agrippa was: How can people claim to love freedom and liberty when they willingly submit to moderate "servitude," e.g., money lenders. Willing servitude in one area must lead to servitude in other areas.
Fourth, he pointed out that, yes, the "procurators" were making things difficult for those under their authority, but many times the people brought the "strokes" upon themselves by stirring up trouble over small things. One would think king Agrippa had read 1 Peter 1, for even he understood that patient endurance of unjust buffeting brings the adversary to shame.
But let us take it for granted that the Roman ministers are injurious to you, and are incurably severe; yet are they not all the Romans who thus injure you; nor hath Caesar, against whom you are going to make war, injured you: it is not by their command that any wicked governor is sent to you; for they who are in the west cannot see those that are in the east; nor indeed is it easy for them there, even to hear what is done in these parts. Now it is absurd to make war with a great many for the sake of one: to do so with such mighty people, for a small cause; and this when these people are not able to know of what you complain: nay, such crimes as we complain of may soon be corrected, for the same procurator will not continue forever; and probable it is that the successors will come with more moderate inclinations. But as for war, if it be once begun, it is not easily laid down again, nor borne without calamities coming therewith. However, as to the desire of recovering your liberty, it is unseasonable to indulge it so late; whereas you ought to have labored earnestly in old time that you might never have lost it; for the first experience of slavery was hard to be endured, and the struggle that you might never have been subject to it would have been just; but that slave who hath been once brought into subjection, and then runs away, is rather a refractory slave than a lover of liberty; for it was then the proper time for doing all that was possible, that you might never have admitted the Romans [into your city] when Pompey came first into the country. But so it was, that our ancestors and their kings, who were in much better circumstances than we are, both as to money and [strong] bodies, and [valiant] souls, did not bear the onset of a small body of the Roman army. And yet you who have not accustomed yourselves to obedience from one generation to another, and who are so much inferior to those who first submitted in your circumstances, will venture to oppose the entire empire of the Romans; while those Athenians, who, in order to preserve the liberty of Greece, did once set fire to their own city, who pursued Xerxes, that proud prince, when he sailed upon the sea; and could not be contained by the seas, but conducted such an army as was too broad for Europe; and made him run away like a fugitive in a single ship, and brake so great a part of Asia as the Lesser Salamis are yet at this time servants to the Romans; and those injunctions which are sent from Italy, become laws to the principal governing city of Greece.-- Those Lacedemonians also, who got the great victories at Thermopylae and Platea, and had Agesilaus [for their king], and searched every corner of Asia, are contented to admit the same lords. These Macedonians, also, who still fancy what great men their Philip and Alexander were, and see that the latter had promised them the empire over the world, these bear so great a change, and pay their obedience to those whom fortune hath advanced in their stead.--Moreover, ten thousand other nations there are, who had greater reason than we to claim their entire liberty, and yet do submit.
First, once arms are taken up, they are not easily laid down.
Second, why did those concerned about liberty wait so long to express their concern? Why did they only express concern in certain areas and not deal with every area of servitude? Why did they not express their concern in the small things of servitude when they could do something about it? When a slave who willingly let himself be taken into slavery by small things runs away from the big things, is he really a lover of liberty? The true lovers of liberty will, though it may be useless, "set fire to their own city" rather than let it come into bondage. The true lovers of liberty will stand for freedom in even the small areas. (Of course, freedom is freedom from the control of sinful lusts, and it only comes through Christ.)
You are the only people who think it a disgrace to be servants to those to whom all the world hath submitted. What sort of an army do you rely on? What are the arms you depend on? Where is your fleet that may seize upon the Roman seas? and where are those treasures which may be sufficient for your undertakings? Do you suppose, I pray you, that you are to make war with the Egyptians, and with the Arabians? Will you not carefully reflect upon the Roman empire? Will you not estimate your own weakness? Hath not your army been often beaten even by your neighboring nations, while the power of the Romans is invincible in all parts of the habitable earth? nay, rather they seek for somewhat still beyond that; for all Euphrates is not a sufficient boundary for them on the east side, nor the Danube on the north, and for their southern limit, Libya hath been searched over by them, as far as countries uninhabited, as is Cadiz their limit on the west, nay, indeed they have sought for another habitable earth beyond the ocean, and have carried their arms as far as such British islands as were never known before. What therefore do you pretend to? Are you richer than the Gauls, stronger than the Germans, wiser than the Greeks, more numerous than all men upon the habitable earth?--What confidence is it that elevates you to oppose the Romans? Perhaps it will be said, It is hard to endure slavery. Yes, but how much harder is it to the Greeks who were esteemed the noblest of all people under the sun! These, though they inhabit in a large country, are in subjection to six bundles of Roman rods. It is the same case with the Macedonians, who have juster reason to claim their liberty than you have. What is the case of five hundred cities of Asia? Do they not submit to a single governor, and to the consular bundle of rods? What need I speak of the Heniochi, and Colchi, and the nation of Tauri, those that inhabit the Bosphorus, and the nations about Pontus, and Meotis, who formerly knew not so much as a Lord of their own, but are now subject to three thousand armed men, and where forty long ships keep the sea in peace, which before was not navigable, and very tempestuous? How strong a plea may Bithynia, and Cappadocia, and the people of Pamphylia, the Lycians, and Cilicians, put in for liberty! but they are made tributary without an army. What are the circumstances of the Thracians, whose country extends in breadth five days' journey, and in length seven, and is of a much more harsh constitution, and much more defensible than yours, and by the rigor of its cold, sufficient to keep off armies from attacking them? do not they submit to two thousand men of the Roman garrisons? Are not the Illyrians, who inhabit the country adjoining, as far as Dalmatia and the Danube, governed by barely two legions? by which also they put a stop to the incursions of the Dacians; and for the Dalmatians, who have made such frequent insurrections, in order to regain their liberty, and who could never before be so thoroughly subdued, but that they always gathered their forces together again, and revolted, yet are they now very quiet under one Roman legion. Moreover, if great advantages might provoke any people to revolt, the Gauls might do it best of all, as being so thoroughly walled round by nature; on the east side by the Alps, on the north by the river Rhine, on the south by the Pyrenean mountains, and on the west by the ocean.--Now, although these Gauls have such obstacles before them to prevent any attack upon them, and have no fewer than three hundred and five nations among them, nay have, as one may say, the fountains of domestic happiness within themselves, and send out plentiful streams of happiness over almost the whole world, these bear to be tributary to the Romans, and derive their prosperous condition from them; and they undergo this, not because they are of effeminate minds, or because they are of an ignoble stock, as having borne a war of eighty years, in order to preserve their liberty, but by reason of the great regard they have to the power of the Romans, and their good fortune, which is of greater efficacy than their arms.
The Gauls were the ones to whom Galatians was written. Bishop Lightfoot comments:
Thus when the writers of the Roman period, St Paul and St Luke for instance, speak of Galatia, the question arises whether they refer to the comparatively limited area of Galatia proper, or to the more extensive Roman provinces. The former is the popular usage of the term, while the latter is the more formal and official character... The Galatians, whom Manlius subdued by the arms of Rome, and St Paul by the sword of the Spirit, were a very mixed race...2
One should also note that Rome's insurances into every habitable area of its day meant that there were paved roads into those areas. Rome was known for the roads she built to keep her vast empire under control. From the start (c. 509 BC), the Roman Empire specialized in organization. (Tradition says the city of Rome was founded in 753 BC However, a more accurate date would be 509 BC, when the patrician families of Rome set up a quasi-representative form of government.) As Rome expanded, a very key factor in keeping control of its subjected peoples was the paved roads it build to every corner of the empire--53,000 miles worth into parts of more than 40 different nations. Thus though the Romans meant the roads for a means of controlling the empire, the roads actually paved the way for the very rapid spread of Christianity all over Europe. Rome normally showed enormous tolerance toward religion; however, Christianity was excepted. The problem with Christianity was that it would not recognize that Cæsar was over the Lord Jesus Christ.
These Gauls, therefore are kept in servitude by twelve hundred soldiers, who are hardly so many as are their cities, nor hath the gold dug out of the mines of Spain been sufficient for the support of a war to preserve their liberty, nor could their vast distance from the Romans by land and by sea do it, nor could the martial tribes of the Lusitanians and Spaniards escape, no more could the ocean, with its tide, which yet was terrible to the ancient inhabitants. Nay, the Romans have extended their arms beyond the pillars of Hercules, and have walked among the clouds, upon the Pyrenean mountains, and have subdued these nations; and one legion is a sufficient guard for these people, although they were so hard to be conquered, and at a distance so remote from Rome. Who is there among you that hath not heard of the great number of the Germans? You have, to be sure, yourselves seen them to be strong and tall, and that frequently, since the Romans have them among their captives everywhere; yet these Germans, who dwell in an immense country, who have minds greater than their bodies, and a soul that despises death, and who are in rage more fierce than wild beasts, have the Rhine for the boundary of their enterprises, and are tamed by eight Roman legions. Such of them as were taken captives became their servants; and the rest of the entire nation were obliged to save themselves by flight. Do you also, who depend on the walls of Jerusalem, consider what a wall the Britons had: for the Romans sailed away to them, and subdued them while they were encompassed by the ocean, and inhabited an island that is not less than [the continent of] this habitable earth, and four legions are a sufficient guard to so large an island: and why should I speak much more about this matter, while the Parthians, that most warlike body of men, and lords of so many nations, and encompassed with such mighty forces, send hostages to the Romans; whereby you may see, if you please, even in Italy, the noblest nation of the east, under the notion of peace, submitting to serve them. Now, when almost all people under the sun submit to the Roman arms, will you be the only people that make war against them? and this without regarding the fate of the Carthaginians, who, in the midst of their brags of the great Hannibal, and the nobility of their Phenician original, fell by the hand of Scipio. Nor indeed have the Cyrenians, derived from the Lacedemonians, nor the Marmaridae a nation extended as far as the regions uninhabitable for want of water, nor have the Syrtes, a place terrible to such as barely hear it described, the Nasamons and Moors, and the immense multitude of the Numidians, been able to put a stop to the Roman valor; and as for the third part of the habitable earth [Africa], whose nations are so many, that it is not easy to number them, and which is bounded by the Atlantic sea, and the Pillars of Hercules, and feeds an innumerable multitude of Ethiopians, as far as the Red sea, these have the Romans subdued entirely. And besides the annual fruits of the earth, which maintain the multitude of the Romans for eight months in the year, this, over and above pays all sorts of tribute, and affords revenues suitable to the necessities of the government.
The tribute paid by captive nations, including Judah, went to maintain the one-world Roman government, which even King Agrippa admitted was at times oppressive, injurious and unjust. In fact, many Christians, with very good Scriptural documentation, considered Nero Cæsar (AD 54-68), under whom most of the New Testament was written, the Antichrist of Scripture. Paul's message was as upsetting to the Jews as was Christ's. (Lk. 23:2/Ac. 24:5.) The Jews, whose power and authority were threatened by the gospel preached by both Christ and Paul, brought the same charges against Paul as were brought against Christ: "He is a mover of sedition among all the Jews."Their motive was the same as it was against Christ: to get Rome to see Paul as a threat to Roman rule over Judah, and thus support the Jews' efforts to put Paul to death. (Ac. 21:31.) After Festus and King Agrippa both throughly examined Paul concerning the charges the Jews brought against him, i.e., inciting the Jews to rebel against Rome, they could find no fault in him. (Ac. 25:24--26:32.) In other words, nothing in Paul's words could be twisted by those seeking his death to convince Rome that he was a threat to Rome's authority over their captive nations, no matter where the captive nations were. (Everywhere Paul went, that nation was subject to Roman authority.) The same situation existed with Christ in Luke 23--the charges of perverting the nation against Rome were totally unsupportable in both Christ's and Paul's situations.3
Nor do they, like you, esteem such injunctions a disgrace to them, although they have but one Roman legion that abides among them; and indeed what occasion is there for showing you the power of the Romans over remote countries, when it is so easy to learn it from Egypt, in your neighborhood? This country is extended as far as the Ethiopians, and Arabia the Happy, and borders upon India; it hath seven millions five hundred thousand men, besides the inhabitants of Alexandria, as may be learned from the revenue of the poll-tax; yet it is not ashamed to submit to the Roman government, although it hath Alexandria as a grand temptation to a revolt, by reason it is so full of people and of riches, and is besides exceeding large, its length being thirty furlongs, and its breadth no less than ten; and it pays more tribute to the Romans in one month than you do in a year: nay, besides what it pays in money, it sends corn to Rome that supports it for four months [in the year]: it is also walled round on all sides, either by almost impassable deserts, or seas that have no havens, or by rivers, or by lakes; yet have none of these things been found too strong for the Roman good fortune; however, two legions that lie in that city are a bridle both for the remoter parts of Egypt, and for the parts inhabited by the more noble Macedonians.
Where then are those people whom you are to have for your auxiliaries? Must they come from the parts of the world that are uninhabited; for all that are in the habitable earth are [under the] Romans. - -Unless any of you extend his hopes as far as beyond the Euphrates, and suppose that those of your own nation that dwell in Adiabene will come to your assistance (but certainly these will not embarrass themselves with an unjustifiable war, nor, if they should follow such ill advice, will the Parthians permit them so to do); for it is their concern to maintain the truce that is between them and the Romans, and they will be supposed to break the covenants between them, if any under their government march against the Romans. What remains, therefore, is this, that you have recourse to divine assistance; but this is already on the side of the Romans; for it is impossible that so vast an empire should be settled without God's providence. Reflect upon it, how impossible it is your zealous observation of your religious customs to be here preserved, which are hard to be observed, even when you fight with those whom you are able to conquer; and how can you then most of all hope for God's assistance, when, by being forced to transgress his law, you will make him turn his face from you? and if you do observe the custom of the Sabbath-days, and will not be prevailed on to do anything thereon, you will easily be taken, as were your forefathers by Pompey, who was the busiest in his siege on those days on which the besieged rested; but if in time of war you transgress the law of your country, I cannot tell on whose account you will afterward go to war; for your concern is but one, that you do nothing against any of your forefathers; and how will you call upon God to assist you, when you are voluntarily transgressing against his religion? Now, all men that go to war, do it either as depending on divine or on human assistance; but since your going to war will cut off both those assistances, those that are for going to war choose evident destruction. What hinders you from slaying your children and wives with your own hands, and burning this most excellent native city of yours? for by this mad prank you will, however, escape the reproach of being beaten; but it were best, O my friends, it were best, while the vessel is still in the haven, to foresee the impending storm, and not to set sail out of the port into the middle of the hurricanes; for we justly pity those who fall into great misfortunes without foreseeing them; but for him who rushes into manifest ruin, he gains reproaches [instead of commiseration].
First, how right Agrippa was. It was/is impossible for so vast an empire-nation to rise among nations without Gods direct intervention, i.e., providence. Thus God was clearly on the side of that nation, though it was at that time ruled by the most debased man in all history, Nero Caesar.
Second, notice the very strong hint on Agrippa's part that the reason Judah was subject to Rome was because Judah had turned its back upon the laws of her God. So his question is valid--"How can those who are 'voluntarily transgressing' God's Laws call upon God when their transgressions makes God turn His face away?" Such people are asking for defeat.
Third, all men go to war depending on either "divine or on human assistance." Agrippa told them, "Since God established Rome and since you are at war against God's Laws, then you must go to war against Rome depending upon human assistance. And where are you going to get human assistance? You might as well kill your wives and children and set fire to your own cities with your own hands and save Rome the trouble."
Forth, wise people keep their vessels in safe haven when they foresee a hurricane. We pity those who fall into great, unforseen misfortunes, but those who go ahead anyway only gain reproach.
But certainly no one can imagine that you can enter into a war as by an agreement, or that when the Romans have got you under their power they will use you with moderation, or will not rather for an example to other nations, burn your holy city, and utterly destroy your whole nation, for those of you who shall survive the war will not be able to find a place whither to flee, since all men the Romans for their lords already, or are afraid they shall have hereafter. Nay, indeed, the danger concerns not those Jews that dwell here only, but those of them who dwell in other cities also; for there is no people upon the habitable earth which have not some portion of you among them, whom your enemies will slay, in case you go to war, and on that account also, and so every city which hath Jews in it will be filled with slaughter for the sake only of a few men, and they who slay them will be pardoned; but if that slaughter be not made by them, consider how wicked a thing it is to take arms against those that are so kind to you. Have pity, therefore, if not on your children and wives, yet upon this your metropolis, and its sacred walls; spare the temple, and preserve the holy house, with its holy furniture, for yourselves; for if the Romans get you under their power, they will no longer abstain from them, when their former abstinences shall have been so ungratefully requited. I call to witness your sanctuary, and the holy angels of God, and this country common to us all, that I have not kept back anything that is for your preservation; and if you will follow that advice which you ought to do, you will have that peace which will be common to you and to me; but if you indulge your passions, you will run those hazards which I shall be free from."
Josephus' account continues
When Agrippa had spoken thus, both he and his sister wept, and by their tears repressed a great deal of the violence of the people; but still they cried out, that they would not fight against the Romans but against Florus, on account of what they had suffered by his means. (According to Josephus, "Florus contrived another way to oblige the jews to begin the war..."4 Florus, thus, was a major instigator to stir up the Jewish revolt against Rome.) To which Agrippa replied, that what they had already done was like such as make war against the. Romans; "for you have not paid the tribute which is due to Caesar ;* and you have cut off the cloisters [of the temple] from joining to the tower Antonia. You will therefore prevent any occasion of revolt, if you will but join these together again, and if you will but pay your tribute; for the citadel does not now belong to Florus, nor are you to pay the tribute-money to Florus."
* Julius Caesar had decreed, that the Jews of Jerusalem should pay an annual tribute to the Romans, excepting the city of Joppa, and for the Sabbatical year; as Spanheim observes from the Antiq. b. xiv, ch. x, sect. 6.
King Agrippa's speech to the Jews 2,000 years ago is applicable for all time.
First, many people seem to be ready to fight and die for "liberty." However, if they were really against slavery, they would be against slavery in the small areas, which they were not--they welcomed slavery in moderation, e.g., credit-card and consumer debt are at record high.
Second, social orders are under oppressive authorities because they sinned against the Lord God of heaven and earth. Their sin results in God exalting oppressive civil governments. And being against God and his law-word, they have absolutely no chance of regaining the liberty they allowed to be removed a little at a time without genuine conversion in attitudes and actions.
Third, Agrippa certainly identified a major problem--a problem common to man that must be continually deal with:
Had I perceived that you were all zealously disposed to go to war with the Romans, and that the purer and more sincere part of the people did not propose to live in peace, I had not come out to you, nor been so bold as to give you counsel; for all discourses that tend to persuade men to do what they ought to do is superfluous, when the hearers are agreed to do the contrary.
Those whose minds are made up cannot be persuaded otherwise. Sadly, though it may "cut us to the quick," the Lord's injunction many times applies: "Let them alone." (Mt. 15:14.)
Might our prayer be, "Lord, if in anything I am otherwise minded than your word, reveal even this unto me, and give the grace to change." (Php. 3:15.)
As we know, Agrippa's warning fell of deaf ears--their mind was made up. The Jewish nation continued its war against God's Law-Word, rebelled against Rome, and Rome utterly destroyed it, selling into slavery the best men, women and children, killing the rest, and burning their chief city to the ground. All in accord with the promise of God in Deuteronomy 29.
1 Agrippa I, d. AD 44, called Herod Agrippa in the Bible, was the son of Aristobulus, one of Herod the Great's executed sons. Brought up in Rome he became a favorite of Caligula, who appointed him king of both Philip's and Antipas's territories. He was succeeded after an interval by his son Agrippa II, b. AD 27, under whom Herodian rule ended. The Jews, never great partisans of the Idumaean dynasty and continually outraged by the political and religious insensitivity of the various Herodians and the Roman governors, revolted in AD 66. Agrippa aided the Romans in suppressing the revolt and went to Rome after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. He was the brother of BERENICE." Multimedia Encyclopedia, Ver. 1. Herod Agrippa I, King of Judaea and Samaria, AD 37-44; Herod Agrippa II, AD 52-Roman war, after which he went to Rome.
2 Lightfoot, Saint Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, 8. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Preface date, February 18, 1865. Lightfoot places Galatians' date as AD 57, 58, ibid, 40. Cæsar Nero's reign over Rome was AD 54-68; however, Nero's serious persecution against the Christians did not start until after Rome burned, AD 64.
3 The charges were brought against Paul in c. AD 58. Paul defended himself before Felix, yet was left in prison for the next couple years. Festus replaced Felix, AD 60. Having appealed to Cæsar, he was sent to Rome in the autumn of AD 60. Paul reached Rome in "the seventh year of Nero's reign, when he had already shown his infamous character by the murder of Agrippina, his mother, in the previous year, and other acts of cruelty... The martyrdom of Paul under Nero is established by the unanimous testimony of antiquity..." (Schaff, History of the Christian Church, I:327, 329.) Thus Paul's ministry (AD 40-64) and a large portion of his writings were under King Agrippa and during the reign of the "Antichrist," Nero.
4 Josephus, Wars, Book II, Chap. XVI, Sec. 1.