|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
26:24-32 It becomes us, on all occasions, to speak the words of truth and soberness, and then we need not be troubled at the unjust censures of men. Active and laborious followers of the gospel often have been despised as dreamers or madmen, for believing such doctrines and such wonderful facts; and for attesting that the same faith and diligence, and an experience like their own, are necessary to all men, whatever their rank, in order to their salvation. But apostles and prophets, and the Son of God himself, were exposed to this charge; and none need be moved thereby, when Divine grace has made them wise unto salvation. Agrippa saw a great deal of reason for Christianity. His understanding and judgment were for the time convinced, but his heart was not changed. And his conduct and temper were widely different from the humility and spirituality of the gospel. Many are almost persuaded to be religious, who are not quite persuaded; they are under strong convictions of their duty, and of the excellence of the ways of God, yet do not pursue their convictions. Paul urged that it was the concern of every one to become a true Christian; that there is grace enough in Christ for all. He expressed his full conviction of the truth of the gospel, the absolute necessity of faith in Christ in order to salvation. Such salvation from such bondage, the gospel of Christ offers to the Gentiles; to a lost world. Yet it is with much difficulty that any person can be persuaded he needs a work of grace on his heart, like that which was needful for the conversion of the Gentiles. Let us beware of fatal hesitation in our own conduct; and recollect how far the being almost persuaded to be a Christian, is from being altogether such a one as every true believer is.
Verse 24. - Made his defense for spake for himself, A.V. (ἀπολογουμένου, as ver. 2); saith for said, A.V.; mad for beside thyself, A.V.; thy much for much, A.V.; turn thee to madness for make thee mad, A.V. With a loud voice. Another detail, betraying the eyewitness of the scene described. Thou art mad (μαίνῃ); Acts 12:15; John 10:20; 1 Corinthians 14:23. Much learning (τὰ πολλά γράμματα). So John 7:15, "How knoweth this man letters (γράμματα)?" is equivalent to Whence hath this man this wisdom? (Matthew 13:54). And ἀγράμματος ιν Acts 4:13 is "unlearned." The excited interruption by Festus shows that he was unable to accept the truths enunciated by the apostle. The ideas of fulfilled prophecy, and of the resurrection of the dead, and of a crucified Jew giving light to the great Roman world, were" foolishness unto him," because he lacked spiritual discernment. He thought the apostle's glowing words must be the outcome of a disordered mind. Turn thee to madness (εἰς μανίαν περιτρέπει). The word μανία (mania) occurs only here in the New Testament. But it is the technical name in medical writers for the disease of μανία, mania, and is also common in classical writers. The verb for "doth turn" (περιτρέπει) is also peculiar to St. Luke, being found only in this place. It is used by Plato, but specially by medical writers, as is also the substantive formed from it, περιτροπή, spoken of the "turn" taken by a disease, and the simple verb τρέπει and τρέπεται: e.g. ἔτρεψε γνώμην ἐς μανίην: ἐς σκυθρωππὸν ἡ μανίη τρέπεται: τοῖς μαινομένοισι ἄλλοτε μὲν ἐς ὀῤγὴν ἄλλοτε δὲ ἐς θυμηδίαν (mirth) ἡγνώμη τρέπεται, etc. (Hobart, p. 468).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And as he thus spake for himself,.... Asserting the integrity and innocence of his past life and conversation, in proof of which he appealed to the Jews themselves; setting forth the prejudices to the Christian religion he had been under; declaring the heavenly vision that had appeared to him, and the divine orders he had received; alleging, that in his ministry there was an entire harmony between him, and the writings of Moses, and the prophets, for which the Jews professed a veneration; as he was thus vindicating himself, ere he had well finished his apology,
Festus said with a loud voice; that all might hear, and being moved with resentment at what he had heard; and it may be, he was displeased with Paul that he took so much notice of Agrippa, and so often addressed him, and appealed to him, when he scarce ever turned to, or looked at him:
Paul, thou art beside thyself; not in thy senses, or right mind, to talk of such an appearance and vision, and especially of the resurrection of a person from the dead. This is no unusual thing for the ministers of the Gospel to be reckoned madmen, and the doctrines they preach madness and folly: our Lord himself was said to be beside himself, and to have a devil, and be mad; and so were his apostles, Mark 3:21 and it is not to be wondered at that natural men should entertain such an opinion of them, since what they deliver is quite out of their sphere and reach: Festus added,
much learning doth make thee mad; the apostle was a man of much learning, both Jewish, Greek, and Roman; and Festus perceived him to be of great reading by his making mention of Moses, and the prophets, writings which he knew nothing at all of. And as this sometimes is the case, that much reading, and hard study, do cause men to be beside themselves, he thought it was Paul's case: so the philosopher (f) suggests, that men of great wit and learning, and who are closely engaged in study, whether in philosophy, or politics, or poetry, or in technical affairs, are inclined to be melancholy, and phrenetic.
(f) Aristotel. Problem. sect. 30.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
24. Festus said with a loud voice—surprised and bewildered.
Paul, thou art beside thyself, much learning doth make thee mad—"is turning thy head." The union of flowing Greek, deep acquaintance with the sacred writings of his nation, reference to a resurrection and other doctrines to a Roman utterly unintelligible, and, above all, lofty religious earnestness, so strange to the cultivated, cold-hearted skeptics of that day—may account for this sudden exclamation.
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