Acts 26:4
My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
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(4) My manner of life from my youth.—The Apostle refers, of course, to the time when he first came up to Jerusalem to study the Law and the traditions at the fees, of Gamaliel. (Comp. his account of the same period in Galatians 1:14; Philippians 3:5-6.)

Know all the Jews.—The noun seems to be used in its more limited meaning, as including chiefly, if not exclusively, the Jews of Judæa.

Acts 26:4-7. My manner of life from my youth, which was at first Την απαρχης, which from the beginning, that is, from the beginning of my youth; was among mine own nation at Jerusalem — He was not born among the Jews at Jerusalem, but he was bred among them. And though he had of late years been conversant with the Gentiles, which had given great offence to the Jews, yet, at his setting out in the world, he was intimately acquainted with the Jewish nation, and entirely in their interests. His education was neither foreign nor obscure; it was among his own people at Jerusalem, where religion and learning flourished; as was well known to all the Jews there, for he had made himself remarkable betimes. Who knew me from the beginning — Of my education, under that celebrated master, Gamaliel; if they would testify — But they would not, for they well knew what weight his former life must add to his present testimony; that after the most straitest — That is, the strictest, sect of our religion, I lived a Pharisee — Observing all the rules enjoined among them, respecting every thing that relates not only to the written law of God, but likewise the traditions of the fathers. And now I stand and am judged — Not for any crime that I have committed; but for the hope of the promise made unto our fathers — The promise of a resurrection to eternal life and happiness, by means of the Messiah, that is, of the resurrection of Christ; and of all the dead, in consequence of his resurrection. So the case was in reality; for unless Christ had risen, there could have been no resurrection of the dead. And it was chiefly for bearing witness to the resurrection of Christ, that the Jews still persecuted him. Unto which promise our twelve tribes — So he speaks: for a great part of the ten tribes, which had been carried captive into Assyria by Shalmaneser, (see 2 Kings 17.,) had, at various times, returned from the East (as well as the remains of the two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, from Babylon) to their own country; James 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1. Instantly serving — Or worshipping God, day and night — That is, continually, or in the stated and constant performance of their morning and evening devotions, whether in the temple or in other places, in which they present their prayers; hope to come — To attain that resurrection and eternal life; that is, this is what they aim at in all their public and private worship: and by the expectation they have of it, they are animated in all their labours and sufferings for religion. For which hope’s sake — Reasonable and glorious as it is; I am accused of the Jews — The doctrine which I preach containing the fullest assurance and demonstration of a resurrection that ever was given to the world. And it is this that provokes those of mine enemies, who disbelieve it, to prosecute me with so much malice.

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.My manner of life - My opinions, principles, and conduct.

From my youth - Paul was born in Tarsus; but at an early period he had been sent to Jerusalem for the purpose of education in the school of Gamaliel, Acts 22:3.

Which was at the first - Which was from the beginning; the early part of which; the time when the opinions and habits are formed.

Know all the Jews - It is not at all improbable that Paul was distinguished in the school of Gamaliel for zeal in the Jewish religion. The fact that he was early entrusted with a commission against the Christians Acts 9 shows that he was known. Compare Philippians 3:4-6. He might appeal to them, therefore, in regard to the early part of his life, and, doubtless, to the very men who had been his violent accusers.

4, 5. from my youth, which was at the first … at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; which knew me from the beginning—plainly showing that he received his education, even from early youth, at Jerusalem. See on [2115]Ac 22:3. Paul appeals to his enemies, the Jews themselves, whether they could tax him with any enormity whilst he was of their persuasion; whereby he vindicates his holy religion from being the sink and offscouring of other religions, as some would make it; as also to intimate, that it was his religion which made him so hateful unto them, and not any ill practices done by him.

My manner of life, from my youth,.... That is, his conduct and deportment, his behaviour among men, from the time that he was capable of performing religious exercises, and of knowing the difference between one sect and another, and of being observed and taken notice of by men:

which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem; for though he was born in Tarsus in Cilicia, he was very early brought, or sent by his parents to Jerusalem, where he had his education under Gamaliel; so that the first part of his life was spent in Jerusalem, the metropolis of Judea, and among the Jews there; the more learned and knowing part of them, Gamaliel's pupils, and the wise men and their disciples: and his course of life must be well known to them, as he says,

this know all the Jews; that had any knowledge of him, and conversation with him.

{2} My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;

(2) Paul divides the history of his life into two times: for the first he calls his adversaries as witnesses: for the latter, the fathers and Prophets.

Acts 26:4-5. Μὲν οὖν] introduces, in connection with the preceding exordium, the commencement now of the defence itself. See Bäumlein, Partik. p. 181.

βίωσιν] manner of life. Ecclus. Praef. 1, Symm. Psalm 38:6. Not preserved in Greek writers.

τὴν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆςἹεροσ.] a significant epexegesis of τὴν ἐκ νεότητος, for the establishment of the following ἴσασι κ.τ.λ.

προγινώσκοντεςΦαρισαῖος] my manner of life … know all Jews, since they knew me from the outset (since the first time of my becoming known)—namely, that I, according to the strictest (Acts 22:3) sect of our religion (θρησκείας), have lived as Pharisee. This Φαρισαῖος, calling that ἀκριβ. αἵρεσιν by its name, stands with great emphasis at the close. Notice generally the intentional definiteness with which Paul here describes all the circumstances of the case, to which belongs also the emphatic repetition of τήν (see Bornemann in loc.).

In προγινώσκ., προ, before, contains the same conception, which is afterwards still more definitely denoted by ἄνωθεν. They knew Paul earlier than merely since the present encounter, and that indeed ἄνωθεν, from the beginning (Luke 1:3), which therefore, as it refers to the knowing, and not to ἔζησα, may not be explained: from my ancestors (Beza).

ἐὰν θέλωσι μαρτυρεῖν] if they do not conceal or deny, but are willing to testify it. “Nolebat autem, quia persentiscebant, in conversione Pauli, etiam respectu vitae ante actae, efficacissimum esse argumentum pro veritate fidei Christianae,” Bengel. Comp. Acts 22:19 f.

Acts 26:4. μὲν οὖν: with no formal antithesis, but as marking the opposition between his present and former mode of life, a contrast dropped for the moment, and resumed again in Acts 26:9; see Rendall, Appendix on μέν οὖν, but also Page, in loco, and notes below on Acts 26:9.—βίωσιν: vivendi et agendi ratio, Grimm; cf. the same word used in the description of a life very similar to that of Paul before he became a Christian, Ecclus., Prol., 12, διὰ τῆς ἐννόμου βιώσεως (Symm., Psalms 38 (39):6).—νεότητος, 1 Timothy 4:12, only elsewhere in N.T. in Luke 18:21, and in parallel passage, Mark 10:20, in LXX Genesis 43:33, Job 31:18, etc. From its use with reference to Timothy it is evident that the word did not imply the earliest years of life, and although Paul may probably have removed to Jerusalem at an early age, the context does not require a reference to the years he had lived before his removal.—τὴν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς γεν.: explanatory of preceding,—the commencement of his training, which was not only amongst his own nation, but also specially τε, at Jerusalem, cf. Acts 22:3. The Apostle presses the point to show that he was most unlikely to act in violation of Jewish feeling—he is still a Jew.—ἴσασι: only here in N.T., perhaps a conscious classicism, Simcox, Language of the N.T., p. 33; on the classical forms in this speech see Blass, Proleg., p. 14, and Gram., p. 49, and especially p. 5, Philology of the Gospels, p. 9. These literary forms are what we should have expected the Apostle to employ before an audience so distinguished.—Ἰουδαῖοι: Blass gives a further reason for the omission of article, “abest ut 2, 3, 7, 21, sec. usum Atticorum, cf. Acts 17:21”.

4. at the first] Better (with Rev. Ver.) “from the beginning.” The Apostle though born in Tarsus yet came early to Jerusalem for his education, and it was in the Holy City that his character was formed and his manner of life shewed itself.

among mine own nation at Jerusalem] The oldest MSS. say “and at Jerusalem.” This would imply that even before coming to Jerusalem, the Apostle had always dwelt among his own people, and so was not likely to be one who would undervalue Jewish privileges or offend against Jewish prejudices.

know all the Jews] Because in the persecution of the Christians he had made himself a conspicuous character, had been in favour with the chief priests and allowed to undertake the mission to Damascus.

Acts 26:4. Μὲν οὖν) Οὖν makes an addition to the discussion: μὲν, when δὲ does not follow, softens the language; Acts 26:9. This narrative has in it great ἐνάργεια, distinctness.—βίωσιν, my manner of life) mode of action in life.—τὴν ἐκ νεότητος, τὴν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς, which was from my youth, which was from the beginning) that is, from the beginning of my youth. So ἄνωθεν, from the first, in the foll. verse.

Verse 4. - Then from my youth up for for my youth. A.V.; from the beginning for at the first. A.V.; and at for at, A.V. and T.R. My manner of life, etc. The same testimony of a good conscience as that in Acts 23:1 and Acts 24:16. The word βίωσις occurs only here in the New Testament. But we find the phrase, τῆς ἐννόμου βιώσεως, "the manner of life according to the Law," in the Prologue to Ecclesiasticus and in Symmachus (Psalm 38:6), though not in classical Greek. The verb βιόω occurs in 1 Peter 4:2, and not infrequently in the LXX. From my youth up, which was from the beginning among my own nation, etc., having knowledge of me from the first (in ver. 5). No appeal could be stronger as to the notoriety of his whole life spent in the midst of his own people, observed and known of all. The T.R. implies that his youth was spent at Jerusalem, according to what he himself tells us in Acts 22:3. The R.T. does so less distinctly. (For St. Paul's account of his early Pharisaism, comp. Galatians 1:13, 14; Philippians 3:5, 6.) Acts 26:4My manner of life, etc

The repeated articles give additional precision to the statement: "the manner of life, that which was from my youth; that which was from the beginning."

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