|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 3. - Thou art expert for I know thee to be expert, A.V. and T.R. Expert; γνώστην, here only in the New Testament, but found in the LXX. (Daniel, i.e. Hist. of Susanna 42) applied to God, ὁ τῶν κρυπτῶν γνώστης: and 1 Samuel 28:3 and 2 Kings 21:6, as the rendering of יִדֹּעְנִי, a wizard. It is seldom found in classical Greek. According to the R.T., which is that generally adopted (Meyer, Kuinoel, Wordsworth, Alford, etc.), the accusative γνώστην ὄντα σέ is put, by a not uncommon construction, for the genitive absolute, as in Ephesians 1:18. The marginal rendering, because thou art especially expert, seems preferable to that in the text. Customs and questions. For the use of ἔθη and ζητήματα applied to Jewish customs and controversies, see Acts 6:14; Acts 16:21; Acts 21:21, etc.; and Acts 25:19, note.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Especially, because I know thee to be expert in all customs,.... Rites and ceremonies of the Jews, whether enjoined by the law of Moses, or by the elders, fathers, and wise men:
and questions which are among the Jews; concerning angels, spirits, and the resurrection of the dead; which were moved and agitated between the Sadducees and Pharisees; and a multitude of others, which were disputed between the schools of Hillell and Shammai, of which their Misna and Talmud are full, and with these Agrippa was well acquainted; and to their rites and customs he conformed, of which we have some instances recorded in their writings: when they went with their firstfruits to Jerusalem (w),
"a pipe sounded before them till they came to the mountain of the house, and when they came to the mountain of the house (the temple), even King Agrippa carried the basket upon his shoulder, and went in till he came to the court.''
So concerning the reading of the law by a king, they give this following account (x):
"a king stands and takes (the book of the law), and reads sitting; King Agrippa stood and took it, and read standing, and the wise men praised him; and when he came to that passage, Deuteronomy 17:15 "Thou mayest not set a stranger over thee", his eyes flowed with tears; they said unto him, fear not, Agrippa, thou art our brother.''
Some of their writers say (y), this was a piece of flattery in them: they also elsewhere commend him for his modesty and humility (z);
"according to the tradition of the doctors, when persons attending a funeral met a bride (with her retinue), the former gave way, and both to a king of Israel, when they met him; but they say concerning King Agrippa, that he met a bride, and gave way, and they praised him.''
And whereas it was forbidden to eat on the eve of the passover, before the Minchah, though ever so little, that they might eat the unleavened bread with appetite (a); it is observed, that even King Agrippa, who was used to eat at the ninth hour, that day did not eat till it was dark (b): so that from hence it appears, that King Agrippa was famous for his exact knowledge and observance of the customs and manners of the Jews, and which was well known, and was by the apostle:
wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently; since he was charged with a breach of the laws and customs of the Jews; and his defence would proceed upon things which Agrippa was not altogether ignorant of.
(w) Misn. Biccurim, c. 3. sect. 4. (x) Misn. Sota, c. 7. sect. 8. (y) Maimon. in ib. & Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora, pr. neg. 221. (z) T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 17. 1.((a) Maimon. Chametz Umetza, c. 6. sect. 12. (b) T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 107. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. I know thee to be expert, &c.—His father was zealous for the law, and he himself had the office of president of the temple and its treasures, and the appointment of the high priest [Josephus, Antiquities, 20.1.3].
hear me patiently—The idea of "indulgently" is also conveyed.
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