All the unusual names in this passage allowed me to keep the situation at a distance, however the ordinary name 'Bernice' made me realise that this could be anyone of us.
Reference: v.13 A few days later King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus. (NIV Bible)
Explore: Parents are going through a stage of giving their children unusual names. Or if the name is fairly common they will somehow change the spelling – often by adding silent letters! Friends of ours have a game where they go through the births and deaths column in the newspaper. One person will say a name and the other has to guess whether it is in the births column or the deaths column. While that may seem obvious the challenge is then set to spell the name correctly. This part of the game has proven to be quite difficult.
In this Acts passage the name 'Bernice' jumped out at me. Over the last few chapters I had read many names that may have been common for the time but were not known to me: Ananias, Tertullus, Lysias, Drusilla, Festus, Agrippa. And then there's Bernice! An ordinary and rather older name in our culture. But what struck me was that all the unusual names in this passage allowed me to keep the situation at a distance, however the ordinary name 'Bernice' made me realise that this could be anyone of us.
Application: There were many people involved in this case against Paul: there were the group of Jews who wanted him dead; there were the army officials who guarded his prison cell; there were believers of the Way who came and tended to him in prison. All these groups held everyday ordinary people; they held the Andrews, the Darrens, the Jaynes and the Georgias of today. We can all fit in to one of those groups. Are we those opposing the work of God and trying to put a stop to anything we don't agree with or understand? Are we those who don't take sides either way but just aim to keep the peace? Or are we those who support the work of God and strive to keep it going even through difficult times? While this case happened nearly 2000 years ago there are still trials and difficulties we face today. Which group will we belong to?
Prayer: Lord, you care for us no matter what our name is. May we live our life so that it reflects Your Name in all we do. Amen.
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This article was written by Linda Bailey
Linda started theological studies in 1999 in Australia. After working for ten years in various church ministries, she now works as the breakfast producer at 89.9 LightFM - the Christian radio station in Melbourne, Australia. She writes blogs every day about passages she is currently reading in the Bible. Follow her on Google Plus +Linda Bailey or Facebook by clicking the like button on the right of this page.