Acts 26:32
Then said Agrippa to Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed to Caesar.
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(32) This man might have been set at liberty . . .—The decision to which Agrippa came showed the wisdom of the line which St. Paul had taken. The matter could not be hushed up nor got rid of. The authorities could not now free themselves from responsibility for the safe custody of the prisoner, and, by releasing him, expose his life to the conspiracies of the Jews; and thus the Apostle at last gained that safe journey to the imperial city which had for many years been the great desire of his heart.

It is not without interest to note the subsequent relations between Festus and Agrippa, during the short government of the former, as showing a continuance of the same entente cordiale as that which we have seen in this chapter. Agrippa took up his abode at Jerusalem in the old palace of the Asmonean, or Maccabean, princes. It commanded a view of the city, and, from a banquet-hall which he had erected, he could look down upon the courts of the Temple and see the priests sacrificing even as he sat at meat. The Jews looked on this as a profanation, and built a wall which blocked up the view both from the king’s palace and from the portico where the Roman soldiers used to stand on guard during the festivals. This was regarded by Festus as an insult, and he ordered the wall to be pulled down. The people of Jerusalem, however, obtained leave to send an embassy to Rome. They secured the support of Poppæa, already half a proselyte, after the fashion of the time among the women of the higher class at Rome, and, by the strange irony of history, the Temple of Jehovah was rescued from profanation by the concubine of Nero (Jos. Ant. xx. 8, § 11). Agrippa continued to display the taste for building which was the hereditary characteristic of his house. Cæsarea Philippi was enlarged and named Neronias, in honour of the emperor. A vast theatre was erected at Berytus (Beyrout) and adorned with statues. The Temple was at last finished, and the 18,000 workmen who were thus thrown out of work were employed in repaving the city with marble. The stateliness of the Temple ritual was enhanced by the permission which the king gave to the Levites of the choir, in spite of the remonstrance of the priests, that they should wear a linen ephod. Once again we note the irony of history. The king who thus had the glory of completing what the founder of his dynasty had begun, bringing both structure and ritual to a perfection never before attained, saw, within ten years, the capture of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple (Jos. Ant. xx. 8, § 7).

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.Then said Agrippa unto Festus ... - This is a full declaration of the conviction of Agrippa, before whom the cause had been heard, that Paul was innocent. It is an instance, also, where boldness and fidelity will be attended with happy results. Paul had concealed nothing of the truth. He had made a bold and faithful appeal Acts 26:27 to Agrippa himself for the truth of what he was saying. By this appeal Agrippa had not been offended. It had only served to impress him more with the innocence of Paul. It is an instance which shows that religion may be so commended to the conscience and reason of princes, kings, and judges that they will see its truth. It is an instance which shows that the most bold and faithful appeals may be made by the ministers of religion to their hearers for the truth of what they are saying. And it is a full proof that the most faithful appeals, if respectful, may be made without offending people, and with the certainty that they will feel and admit their force. All preachers should be as faithful as Paul; and whatever may be the rank and character of their auditors, they should never doubt that they have truth and God on their side, and that their message, when most bold and faithful, will commend itself to the consciences of mankind. 32. This man might have been set at liberty if he had not appealed to Cæsar—It would seem from this that such appeals, once made, behooved to be carried out. These judges and great men do, by their opinion concerning Paul, condemn the Jews, whom they declare to have no cause for the prosecuting of him; and so those caitiffs returned to Jerusalem, not only with their labour for their pains, but being branded by the sentence of so many eminent personages, not to say tormented with the guilt of so foul a fact in their own conscience. Such honour have all persecutors! But, withal, these great men seem to be self-condemned, in that they own Paul’s innocence, and yet dare not set him free for fear of the Jews; for as for this excuse from his appealing to Caesar, it bound up them indeed from condemning Paul till Caesar had heard him; but they could not be bound by it from acquitting or freeing of him; for Paul might have withdrawn his appeal, and enjoyed his liberty, if they had pleased, at any time: but what popularity, or self-ends, put them upon, they are willing to varnish over with pretence of lawfulness and necessity. Then said Agrippa unto Festus,.... As declaring his sense, and by way of advice and counsel; but not as determining anything himself, for that lay in the breast of Festus, the Roman governor and judge:

this man might have been set at liberty; from his bonds and imprisonment; for ought that appears against him, or any law to the contrary:

if he had not appealed unto Caesar; wherefore an inferior judge could not release him; but so it was ordered in divine Providence, that he should appeal to Caesar, that he might go to Rome, and there bear a testimony for Christ; however, this declaration of Agrippa, and what he and the governor and the rest said among themselves, are a considerable proof of the innocence of the apostle.

Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.
Acts 26:32. ἐδύνατο: a true affirmative imperfect of verbs denoting obligation or possibility, when used to affirm that a certain thing could or should have been done under the circumstances narrated; therefore not correct to speak of an omitted ἄν, since the past necessity was not hypothetical or contrary to fact, but actual, Burton, p. 14, but cf. Simcox, Language of the N.T., p. 114; cf. Acts 24:19, Acts 27:21.—εἰ μὴ ἐπεκ. Καίσαρα: the appeal had been made and accepted and Paul must be sent to Rome, but doubtless the decision of Agrippa would have great weight with Festus, and would greatly modify the letter which he would send to Rome with the prisoner (see above, p. 499), and we may thus account for the treatment of Paul on his arrival in the capital, Acts 28:16. The circumstance that the innocence of Paul is thus established at the mouth of various personages, and now by Agrippa, himself a Jew, as well as by Festus, a Roman, has been made the ground of objection to the narrative by Baur, Zeller, Overbeck, Weizsäcker, Schmiedel. But whilst we may frankly admit that St. Luke no doubt purposely introduced these varied testimonies to Paul’s innocence, this is no proof of the incorrectness of his statements (Wendt, Matthias). If we grant, as St. Luke affirms, that the primary cause of the Apostle’s imprisonment was the fanatical rage of the Jews against him as a despiser and enemy of the national religion, it is quite conceivable that those who were called to inquire into the matter without such enmity and prejudice should receive a strong impression of his innocence, and should give expression to their impressions. On the other hand, the description in Acts enables us to see how Paul, in spite of such declarations in his favour, might find himself compelled to appeal to Cæsar. Had he acted otherwise, and if release had followed upon the verdict of his innocence, he was sure that sooner or later the implacable Jews would make him their victim. McGiffert, u. s., p. 356, observes that even if both Agrippa and Festus were convinced of the Apostle’s innocence, this would not prevent Festus from seeing in him a dangerous person, who would stir up trouble and cause a riot wherever he went; such a man could not have been set at liberty by Festus as a faithful Roman official; but see above on Acts 25:12. On the whole narrative see Zöckler, p. 311; Bethge, p. 260 (for phraseology). Zöckler supposes as a foundation for the narrative a written account by Luke himself, perhaps an eyewitness, at an early period after the events. Wendt (1899) also takes the view that the writer of the narrative had probably been in the personal company of St. Paul at Cæsarea before the start on the journey for Rome, Acts 27:1, and that the reason that he does not employ the first person in the narrative of 25, 26, is because the facts narrated in these two chapters did not immediately concern him, although he was in Cæsarea during their process. In referring to the account of St. Paul’s conversion as given in ch. 26 it is noteworthy that McGiffert, p. 120, speaks of it as occurring “in a setting whose vividness and verisimilitude are unsurpassed”.32. might have been set at liberty] Thus Agrippa, looking at the question from the Jewish stand-point, confirms the opinion of the Roman magistrate (cp. Acts 25:25). So that St Paul was acquitted on all hands, and Festus may rightly be deemed guilty because he had driven an innocent man to appeal to a higher court, from fear that he would be delivered into the power of his enemies. But God was using human means for bringing the Apostle to Rome, and so fulfilling his servant’s great desire, and in such wise that he should be heard before kings in behalf of the Gospel.

if he had not appealed] The appeal put an end to all powers of a lower court either to condemn or absolve.Acts 26:32. Εἰ μὴ, if he had not) Now Festus could not let him go. There was added the fear of offending the Jews.Verse 32. - And Agrippa said for then said Agrippa, A.V. Agrippa said unto Festus. Festus had consulted Agrippa, as one conversant with Jewish questions, about the case of Paul (Acts 25:14-21). And in the place of hearing he had publicly stated that he had brought him before King Agrippa to be examined, that, "after examination had," he might know what to write to the emperor. Accordingly Agrippa now gives it as his opinion that the prisoner might have been discharged if he had not appealed to Caesar. Festus was of the same opinion, and doubtless wrote to Nero to that effect. The result was that he was acquitted before the emperor's tribunal at Rome, at the end of two years.

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