Acts 26:9
I truly thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) I verily thought with myself . . .—The words have a tone of considerate sympathy and hope. He himself had been led from unbelief to faith; he will not despair of a like transition for others, even for Agrippa. (Comp. 1Timothy 1:12-17.) On the relation of this account of the Apostle’s conversion to previous narratives, see Notes on Acts 9:1-20.

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.I verily thought - I indeed μὲν men supposed. Paul here commences the account of his conversion, and states the evidence on which he judged that he was called of God to do what he had done. He begins by saying that it was not because he was originally disposed to be a Christian, but that he was violently and conscientiously opposed to Jesus of Nazareth, and had been converted when in the full career of opposition to him and his cause.

With myself - I thought to myself; or, I myself thought. He had before stated the hopes and expectations of his countrymen, Acts 26:6-8. He now speaks of his own views and purposes. "For myself, I thought," etc.

That I ought to do - That I was bound, or that it was a duty incumbent on me - δεῖν dein. "I thought that I owed it to my country, to my religion, and to my God, to oppose in every manner the claims of Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah." We here see that Paul was conscientious, and that a man may be conscientious even when engaged in enormous wickedness. It is no evidence that one is right because he is conscientious. No small part of the crimes against human laws, and almost all the cruel persecutions against Christians, have been carried on under the plea of conscience. Paul here refers to his conscientiousness in persecution to show that it was no slight matter which could have changed his course. As he was governed in persecution by conscience, it could have been only by a force of demonstration, and by the urgency of conscience equally clear and strong, that he could ever have been induced to abandon this course and to become a friend of that Saviour whom he had thus persecuted.

Many things - As much as possible. He was not satisfied with a few things a few words, or purposes, or arguments; but he felt bound to do as much as possible to put down the new religion.

Contrary to the name ... - In opposition to Jesus himself, or to his claims to be the Messiah. The "name" is often used to denote the "person" himself, Acts 3:6.

9-15. (See on [2119]Ac 9:1, &c.; and compare Ac 22:4, &c.) The name of Jesus; the religion which teacheth Christ is to be worshipped, and his name to be magnified.

Jesus of Nazareth; so they called our Saviour, of which see Acts 22:8. I verily thought with myself,.... This seems to be a correction of himself, why he should wonder at their ignorance and unbelief, particularly with respect to Jesus being the Messiah, and his resurrection from the dead, and expostulate with them about it; when this was once his own case, it was the real sentiments of his mind, what in his conscience he believed to be right and just; namely,

that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth; to him himself, to his religion, to his Gospel, and ordinances, and people; by blaspheming his name, by denying him to be the Messiah, by condemning his religion as heresy, by disputing against his doctrines, and manner of worship, and by persecuting his followers.

I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 26:9-10. In consequence of this unbelief (μὲν οὖν), I myself was once a decided opponent of the name of Jesus.

ἔδοξα ἐμαυτῷ] mihi ipsi videbar. See examples in Wetstein. The view of Erasmus, Calovius, de Dieu, and Vater, who connect ἐμαυτῷ with δεῖν, is to be rejected; for δεῖν with the dative, although not without example in classical writers (Xen. Mem iii. 3. 10, Anab. iii. 4. 35, Oecon. vii. 20; see Kühner, § 551, note 5; Schoem. ad Is. p. 380), is foreign to the N.T. ἐμαυτῷ has the emphasis of his own personal opinion: I had the self-delusion, that I ought to exert myself. “Tanta vis errantis conscientiae,” Bengel.

πρὸς τὸ ὄνομα] in reference to the name, namely, in order to suppress the confession and invocation of it. Observe how Paul uses Ἰησοῦ τοῦ Ναζωρ. according to his standpoint as Saul.

] which πολλὰ ἐναντία πρᾶξαι I also actually did. Comp. Galatians 2:10. This is then more particularly set forth by καὶ (and indeed) πολλοὺς κ.τ.λ. Mark the difference between πράσσειν and ποιεῖν; see on John 3:20.

τῶν ἁγίων] spoken from the Christian standpoint of the apostle, with grief. The ἐγώ also has painful emphasis.

ἀναιρ. τε αὐτ. κατήνεγκα ψῆφον] and when they were put to death (when people were on the point of executing them) I have given vote (thereto), calculum adjeci, i.e. I have assented, συνευδόκησα, Acts 22:20. The plural ἀναιρ. αὐτ. is not, with Grotius, Kuinoel, and others, to be referred merely to Stephen, but also to other unknown martyrs, who met their death in the persecution which began with the killing of Stephen. Comp. Acts 8:1, Acts 9:1. Elsner and Kypke make the genitive dependent on κατήνεγκα, and in that, case take κατα- in a hostile reference (comp. καταψηφίζειν). Harsh, and without precedent in linguistic usage; ἀναιρ. αὐτ. is the genitive absolute, and κατήν. is conceived with a local reference, according to the original conception of the ψῆφος (the voting-stone), which the voter deposits in the urn. Classical authors make use of the simple φέρειν ψῆφον (Plat. Legg. vi. p. 766 B, p. 767 D, and frequently), also of διαφέρειν, or ἐπιφέρ., or ἀναφέρ., or ἐκφέρ. ψ. But to καταφέρειν in our passage corresponds the classical τιθέναι ψῆφον (Plat. Tim. p. 51 D; Eur. Or. 754; Dem. 362. 6, and frequently).Acts 26:9. ἐγὼ μὲν οὖν: the words may be taken as simply resuming the narrative of the Apostle’s life which he had commenced in Acts 26:4-5, the three succeeding verses forming a parenthesis, or as an answer to the question of Acts 26:8, the real antithesis to μὲν οὖν, Acts 26:9, and the narrative, Acts 26:9-11, being found in Acts 26:12 and what follows. On μὲν οὖν see Rendall, Acts, Appendix, p. 163, and also Page on Acts 2:41, Acts, pp. 94, 95; see also critical note above.—ἔδοξα ἐμαυτῷ: mihi ipsi videbar; so in classical Greek. If with Weiss, Wendt, Bethge we lay stress on ἐμαυ., the Apostle explains the fact that this obligation was his own wilful self-delusion. In classical Greek instead of the impersonal construction we have frequently the personal construction with the infinitive as here, cf. 2 Corinthians 10:9—only in Luke and Paul, indication of literary style, Viteau, Le Grec du N.T., p. 152 (1893).—τὸ ὄνομα Ἰ. τοῦ Ν., see on Acts 4:10; Acts 4:12.—ἐναντία πρᾶξαι, cf. Acts 28:17, and also 1 Thessalonians 2:15, Titus 2:8.9. contrary to the name] i.e. to the faith of Jesus Christ, into whose name believers were to be baptized. Cp. Acts 5:41, note. “Name” is constantly used in O. T. as the equivalent of “Godhead,” and any Jew who heard the language of such a verse as this would understand that the Christians held Jesus to be a divine Being.

of Jesus of Nazareth] Whom we preach now as raised by God from the dead, and as the fulfiller of the promises made to the fathers.Acts 26:9. Ἔδοξα ἐμαυτῷ, I thought with myself, I seemed to myself bound) even above others.—δεῖν, that I ought) So great is the power of the conscience even when in error.—πολλὰ ἐναντία, many things contrary) not as others, who neither treat with respect, nor yet injure (Christians). These contrary things the language of Paul enumerates with a remarkable increase of force.—πρᾶξαι) ἐποίησα, presently. The words differ, as we observe elsewhere.[143]

[143] πράσσειν, agere; ποιεῖν, facere. Πρᾶσσειν expresses the general state of the conduct and practice: Ποιεῖν, the particular acts.—E. and T.Verse 9. - I verily. He gently excuses their unbelief by confessing that he himself had once felt like them, and insinuates the hope that they would change their minds as he had, and proceeds to give them good reason for doing so. Contrary to the Name (Galatians 1:13; 1 Timothy 1:13). Jesus of Nazareth. By so designating the Lord of glory, he avows himself a member of "the sect of the Nazarenes" (see Acts 2:22; Acts 3:6; Acts 4:10; Acts 10:33, etc.).
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