Acts 26:1
Then Agrippa said to Paul, You are permitted to speak for yourself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXVI.

(1) Then Paul stretched forth the hand.—The characteristic attitude reminds us of Acts 21:40. Here it acquires a fresh pictorial vividness from the fact that St. Paul now stood before the court as a prisoner, with one arm, probably the left, chained to the soldier who kept guard over him. (Comp. Acts 26:29.)

Acts 26:1-3. Then Agrippa said unto Paul — Agrippa was the most honourable person in the assembly, having the title of king bestowed upon him, though otherwise not superior to Festus, as only having the power of other governors under the emperor. But as Festus had opened the cause, and Agrippa, though not here superior, yet, was senior to Festus, therefore, as the mouth of the court, he intimates to Paul that liberty was given him to speak for himself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand — Chained as it was: a decent expression of his own earnestness, and proper to engage the attention of his hearers; answered for himself — Not only refuting the accusation of the Jews, but enlarging upon the faith of the gospel. I think myself happy — I consider it as no small advantage to me and my cause; King Agrippa — There is a peculiar force in thus addressing a person by name: Agrippa felt this; because I shall answer for myself before thee — Though Agrippa was not sitting as judge in this place, yet his opinion and judgment could not but have much influence with Festus. Especially because I know thee to be expert, &c. — Γνωστην οντα σε, to be knowing, or skilled, which Festus was not; in all customs — In practical matters; and questions — In speculative. This word Festus had used in the absence of Paul, (Acts 25:19,) who, by the divine leading, here repeats and explains it. Agrippa had peculiar advantages for an accurate knowledge of the Jewish customs and questions, from his education under his father Herod, and his long abode at Jerusalem. Nothing can be imagined more suitable, or more graceful, than this whole discourse of Paul before Agrippa, in which the seriousness of the Christian, the boldness of the apostle, and the politeness of the gentleman and the scholar, appear in a most beautiful contrast, or rather, a most happy union.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.Then Paul stretched forth the hand - See the notes on Acts 21:40. This was the usual posture of orators or public speakers. The ancient statues are commonly made in this way, with the right hand extended. The dress of the ancients favored this. The long and loose robe, or outer garment, was fastened usually with a hook or clasp on the right shoulder, and thus left the arm at full liberty.

And answered for himself - It cannot be supposed that Paul expected that his defense would be attended with a release from confinement, for he had himself appealed to the Roman emperor, Acts 25:11. His design in speaking before Agrippa was, doubtless:

(1) To vindicate his character, and obtain Agrippa's attestation to his innocence, that thus he might allay the anger of the Jews;

(2) To obtain a correct representation of the case to the emperor, as Festus had desired this in order that Agrippa might enable him to make a fair statement of the case Acts 25:26-27; and,

(3) To defend his own conversion, and the truth of Christianity, and to preach the gospel in the hearing of Agrippa and his attendants, with a hope that their minds might be impressed by the truth, and that they might be converted to God.

CHAPTER 26

Ac 26:1-32. Paul's Defense of Himself before King Agrippa, Who Pronounces Him Innocent, but Concludes That the Appeal to Cæsar Must Be Carried Out.

This speech, though in substance the same as that from the fortress stairs of Jerusalem (Ac 22:1-29), differs from it in being less directed to meet the charge of apostasy from the Jewish faith, and giving more enlarged views of his remarkable change and apostolic commission, and the divine support under which he was enabled to brave the hostility of his countrymen.

1-3. Agrippa said—Being a king he appears to have presided.

Paul stretched forth the hand—chained to a soldier (Ac 26:29, and see on [2114]Ac 12:6).Acts 26:1-23 Paul, in the presence of Agrippa, declareth his life

from his childhood, his wonderful conversion, and

call to the apostleship, and his preaching of Christ

according to the scripture doctrine.

Acts 26:24-29 Festus chargeth him with madness: his modest reply,

and address to Agrippa, who confesseth himself almost

a Christian.

Acts 26:30-32 The whole company pronounce him innocent.

This stretching forth of his hand was:

1. To obtain silence of others whilst he spake; or:

2. To show his innocence, whilst he uses this modest confidence; or:

3. As other orators, when they begin to speak, move their hands. The providence of God wonderfully procures Paul a liberty to publish the gospel, and to make his case and religion known.

Then Agrippa said unto Paul,.... After Festus had made the above speech to him, and to all present, and had introduced the affair of Paul, who now stood before them:

thou art permitted to speak for thyself; which a prisoner might not do, until he had leave; and this leave was granted by Festus the Roman governor, who was properly the judge, and not Agrippa, though the permission might be by both; and so the Arabic and Ethiopic versions read, "we have ordered", or "permitted thee", &c.

Then Paul stretched forth the hand; as orators used to do, when they were about to speak; or else to require silence; or it may be to show the freedom of his mind, and how ready he was to embrace the opportunity of pleading his own cause; being conscious to himself of his innocence, and relying on the ingenuity and integrity of his judge; and especially of the king, before whom he stood:

and answered for himself; or made an apology, or spoke in vindication of himself, in order to remove the charges brought against him.

Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 26:1-3. Ἐπιτρέπεταί σοι] it is (herewith) permitted to thee to speak for thyself, i.e. to defend thyself. Comp. Soph. Aj. 151, El. 545; Xen. Hist. i. 7. 16.

ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα] after stretching forth his hand, is not equivalent to the κατασείσας τῇ χειρί, Acts 12:17, Acts 13:16 (in opposition to Er. Schmid and Hammond), because this latter had for its object the σιγᾶν of the hearers (Acts 12:17); but it conveys a trait descriptive of the solemnity of this moment: Paul comes forward in the attitude of an orator, with all the ingenuousness and candour of a good conscience, although the chain hung on his hands, Acts 26:29. Comp. in contrast to the simple gesture of Paul, the artificially rhetorical one in Apuleius, Metamorph. ii. p. 54: “Porrigit dextram et ad instar oratorum conformat articulum, duobusque infimis conclusis digitis ceteros eminentes porrigit.” According to Lange’s fancy, it is an intimation that “he stretched out his hand at length for once to an intelligent judge.”

How true and dignified is also here (comp. Acts 24:10) the conciliatory exordium, with which Paul commences his speech!

ὑπὸ Ἰουδαίων] by Jews (generally), not: by the Jews, comp. Acts 25:10. In regard to Jewish accusations, Paul esteemed himself fortunate that he was to defend himself before Agrippa, as the latter was best informed about Jewish customs and controversies.

Acts 26:3. μάλιστα γνώστην ὄντα σε] as thou art most (more than all other authorities) cognizant. The speech, continuing by a participial construction, is joined on in an abnormal case, as if an accusative expression had been previously used (such as πρός σεἀπολογεῖσθαι, Plat. Apol. p. 24 B). Less simply Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 272 [E. T. 317]. See on Ephesians 1:18, and Stallb. ad Plat. Rep. p. 386 B. The view of Bornemann is very harsh (as διὸ δέομαι entirely closes the previous construction, and commences a new sentence of the speech): that Paul has put the accusative, because he had it in view to continue subsequently with αἰτῶἀκοῦσαί μου, but omitted to do so on account of πάντωνζητημάτων.

κατὰ Ἰουδ.] among Jews throughout. See Winer, p. 374 [E. T. 499].Acts 26:1. ἐπιτρέπεται, Burton, p. 9, on “the aoristic present”. Agrippa as a king and as a guest presides; and Paul addresses himself specially to him, cf. Acts 26:2; Acts 26:7; Acts 26:13; Acts 26:19; Acts 26:27; cf. Acts 28:16, 1 Corinthians 14:34, for the passive with infinitive, and for other instances of the word in the same sense as here Acts 21:39-40, Acts 27:3; the verb is similarly used in all of the Gospels (three times in Luke), and in 1 Corinthians 16:7, 1 Timothy 2:12, Hebrews 6:3.—ἐκτείνας: not the same as in Acts 12:17, Acts 13:16; here not to ensure silence, but gestus est oratorius, cf. Acts 26:29.—ἀπελογεῖτο, see above, Acts 24:10, although not formally on trial, the word shows that the Apostle was defending himself.Acts 26:1-23. Paul’s defence before Agrippa

1. and answered for himself] Rev. Ver. “and made his defence.” The verb is the same as before (Acts 19:33, Acts 24:10, Acts 25:8) and intimates that what is coming is an apologia. St Luke here as in other places notices the gesture of the speaker.Acts 26:1. Ἐπιτρέπεται, It is permitted) Elegantly the impersonal form is used, permission is granted to thee, by Festus and by Agrippa. Agrippa was desiring to hear him.—ὑπὲρ, for) not merely concerning thyself. [This no doubt is what Paul has in hand; but in such a way as that he rather speaks concerning Christ.—V. g.]—ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα, having stretched forth his hand) bound with a chain though it was. This gesture was appropriate both to the boldness of speech of Paul, and to the securing of his hearers’ attention.Verse 1. - And for then, A.V.; his for the, A.V.; made his defense for answered for himself, A.V. Agrippa said. It was by the courtesy of Festus that Agrippa thus took the chief place. It was, perhaps, with the like courtesy that Agrippa said, impersonally, Thou art permitted, without specifying whether by himself or by Festus. Stretched forth his hand. The action of an orator, rendered in this case still more impressive by the chains which hung upon his arms. Luke here relates what he saw. Made his defense (ἀπελογεῖτο); Acts 25:8; Acts 24:10, note.
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