|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
26:1-11 Christianity teaches us to give a reason of the hope that is in us, and also to give honour to whom honour is due, without flattery or fear of man. Agrippa was well versed in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, therefore could the better judge as to the controversy about Jesus being the Messiah. Surely ministers may expect, when they preach the faith of Christ, to be heard patiently. Paul professes that he still kept to all the good in which he was first educated and trained up. See here what his religion was. He was a moralist, a man of virtue, and had not learned the arts of the crafty, covetous Pharisees; he was not chargeable with any open vice and profaneness. He was sound in the faith. He always had a holy regard for the ancient promise made of God unto the fathers, and built his hope upon it. The apostle knew very well that all this would not justify him before God, yet he knew it was for his reputation among the Jews, and an argument that he was not such a man as they represented him to be. Though he counted this but loss, that he might win Christ, yet he mentioned it when it might serve to honour Christ. See here what Paul's religion is; he has not such zeal for the ceremonial law as he had in his youth; the sacrifices and offerings appointed by that, are done away by the great Sacrifice which they typified. Of the ceremonial cleansings he makes no conscience, and thinks the Levitical priesthood is done away in the priesthood of Christ; but, as to the main principles of his religion, he is as zealous as ever. Christ and heaven, are the two great doctrines of the gospel; that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. These are the matter of the promise made unto the fathers. The temple service, or continual course of religious duties, day and night, was kept up as the profession of faith in the promise of eternal life, and in expectation of it. The prospect of eternal life should engage us to be diligent and stedfast in all religious exercises. Yet the Sadducees hated Paul for preaching the resurrection; and the other Jews joined them, because he testified that Jesus was risen, and was the promised Redeemer of Israel. Many things are thought to be beyond belief, only because the infinite nature and perfections of Him that has revealed, performed, or promised them, are overlooked. Paul acknowledged, that while he continued a Pharisee, he was a bitter enemy to Christianity. This was his character and manner of life in the beginning of his time; and there was every thing to hinder his being a Christian. Those who have been most strict in their conduct before conversion, will afterwards see abundant reason for humbling themselves, even on account of things which they then thought ought to have been done.
Verse 11. - Punishing them oftentimes in all the synagogues, I strove to make them blaspheme for I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme, A.V.; foreign for strange, A.V. In all the synagogues. Those in Jerusalem, as the contrast of the foreign cities shows. (For the facts, see Acts 8:1, 3.) I strove, etc. The "compelled" of the A.V. is the natural rendering of ἠνάγκαζον (Matthew 14:22; Luke 14:23; Acts 28:19, etc.); but it does not necessarily follow that the compulsion was successful. It might be in some cases, and not in others. Pliny, in his letter to Trajan, says that those who were accused of being Christians cleared themselves by calling upon the gods, offering to the image of the emperor, and cursing Christ, none of which things, it is said, true Christians ("qui sunt revera Christiani") can be compelled to do ('Epist.,' 10, 95, quoted by Kuinoel). Mad against them; ἐμμαινόμενος αὐτοῖς, only here; but the adjective ἐμμανής, frantic, is not uncommon in classical writers.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And I punished them oft in every synagogue,.... In Jerusalem, where there were many; See Gill on Acts 24:12; by beating and scourging them there, as the manner was; see Matthew 10:17.
and compelled them to blaspheme; the Lord Jesus Christ, both to deny him to be the Messiah, and to call him accursed; as the Jews and Heathens obliged some professors of Christianity to do, who were only nominal ones, and had not grace and strength to stand against their threatenings, and to endure their persecutions:
and being exceeding mad against them; full of malice, envy, and hatred:
I persecuted them even to strange cities; particularly Damascus; and of his journey thither, he gives an account in the following verse; or through the violence of his persecution he obliged them to fly to strange cities, where they were foreigners and strangers; though he himself might not follow them there, since we do not read of his going anywhere but to Damascus; whereas they that were scattered by the persecution, in which he was concerned, travelled as far as Phenice, Cyprus, and Antioch, Acts 9:19. The phrase may be rendered, "even to cities without"; i.e. without the land of Israel: frequent mention is made in Jewish writings of such and such cities being , "without the land".
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