God called me back to school at age 40 to earn a Ph.D. I wasn’t entirely happy about it. I preferred learning on my own. Even in a good program with terrific professors, there were days I understood why some say that PHD means “Permanent Head Damage.”
In biblical times as well, people with high levels of education could be seen as a bit weird. Paul had been trained as a rabbi under the famous Gamalie —one might say he had the equivalent of a Ph.D. from an Ivy League university (v. 5; Acts 22:3). No wonder Festus thought Paul’s great learning was driving him insane (v. 24)!
Still today, Christian truth can appear strange to the outside world. When Paul explained that Christ had risen from the dead, this sounded impossible and ridiculous to the two government officials (vv. 22–23). The same reaction had occurred in Athens when Paul mentioned the resurrection (Acts 17:31–32). Festus couldn’t help but burst out, “You are out of your mind!” or “Too much study has made you crazy!” A standard Greek reference notes that this phrase is “said to one whose enthusiasm seems to have outrun better judgment.”
A merely human framework for learning and knowledge is limited and sinful. That’s why the governor’s human expectations were wholly mistaken. He wanted Paul’s explanation to stay within the bounds of human knowledge. We want things to make sense on our terms. Prophecy and resurrection don’t fit the grid— until we take God into account.
Paul was not deterred but continued to witness boldly. He calmly responded that his words were true and appealed to King Agrippa’s knowledge of recent events (vv. 25–26). The apostle’s testimony (v. 12) demonstrates how human learning can do a 180-degree turn when coming under God’s control for God’s purposes in God’s service.
>> Apologetics focuses on defending faith through logic and evidence. A book from Moody Publishers can help you do this: A Reasonable Response: Answers to Tough Questions.
God in Heaven, You are bigger than the world You created. The intellects You have given us are limited, incapable of grasping the magnitude of who You are. We stand in awe of Your incomprehensible greatness.