Acts 26
People's New Testament
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
26:1 Paul's Address Before King Agrippa


Agrippa's Knowledge of the Law and the Jews. Paul's Early Career. The Great Doctrine of the Resurrection. His Hatred of Christ. The Manifestation of the Risen Lord to Paul Near Damascus. Paul's Preaching of the Suffering Christ. The Interruption of Festus and the Reply. Paul's Personal Appeal to Agrippa. The Decision That Paul Had Done Nothing Worthy of Bonds.

Then Agrippa said unto Paul. Not Agrippa, but Festus had the authority in the province, but this meeting was arranged in order that Agrippa might investigate the case and assist Festus in formulating the charges. See Ac 25:26,27. Hence the king calls upon Paul to speak.

Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. This great occasion (Ac 25:23) gave Paul a great opportunity. Instead of using it to defend himself, he preached the gospel to that great audience. His address (Ac 26:2-23) is a masterpiece.

I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:
26:2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa. Agrippa had been brought up in the Jewish religion, professed to be a steadfast guardian of the temple, and hence was well versed in all the Jewish customs. He was therefore competent to be a judge of an accusation of treason to the religion and law of their forefathers. Paul felt it a privilege to defend himself before one who was prepared to decide whether his preaching was contrary to Moses and the prophets, or, on the other hand, a fulfillment of them.
Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.
My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
26:4 My manner of life from my youth. He appeals to his life to show that it had been consistent with the law.
Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
26:5 I lived a Pharisee. The Jews all knew that he had been educated and had lived a Pharisee, the strictest of Jewish sects.
And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
26:6 Judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto the fathers. It was not because of a departure from the faith of his fathers that he was accused. That glorious promise, running through all the Jewish Scriptures, was that the Messiah should come. For examples of the promise, see Ge 22:18 49:10:00 De 18:15-19 Isa 9:6,7. Paul not only believed in Moses and the prophets, but believed that the promise God made to them was fulfilled.
Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
26:7 Unto which promise. This promise was the hope of Israel. The twelve tribes, in their constant, never-ending service of God, were simulated by the hope that they would enjoy the fulfillment of the promise.

Our twelve tribes. Paul, like James (Jas 1:1), speaks of the twelve tribes as having the same glorious hope. Since the Captivity, the tribal existence of the ten northern tribes had not been preserved, but descendants of all the tribes were mingled in the Jewish nation. Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin (Php 3:5), John the Baptist of Levi (Lu 1:5), Joseph and Mary of Judah (Mt 1:20 Lu 1:32 Ro 1:3), Anna of the tribe of Asher (Lu 2:36).

Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?
26:8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you? This hope of Israel involved the resurrection of Christ. This Moses and the prophets taught. His countrymen accepted Moses and the prophets, but denied the resurrection as a thing incredible. It was for this hope's sake, of a risen Redeemer, that he was called in question. There was no doubt much said which our record does not preserve, as we have only the outlines of addresses.
I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
26:9 I verily thought with myself. Next, in order to show his zeal for Judaism, he describes his course as a persecutor. He was thoroughly conscientious then in opposing Christ. For his course as a persecutor, see Ac 7:58 9:1,2 22:4
Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
26:10 I gave my voice against them. My vote (Revised Version). This has been held to indicate that he was a member of the Sanhedrin. This would hardly be doubted were it not that tradition declares that the members of the Sanhedrin had to be married and fathers of a family. Hence, some have held that Paul was a member of some lesser court appointed by the Sanhedrin to try the Christians.
And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
26:11 I punished them oft in every synagogue. In all the synagogues (Revised Version). Scourging was a not uncommon punishment in the synagogue (Mt 10:17 23:34).

Compelled them to blaspheme. Terrified them into denying Jesus.

Exceedingly mad. Raging, even fanatical. That he was a terrible persecutor cannot be doubted from his own account.

Even unto foreign cities. Of these Damascus was one (Ac 9:2).

Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
26:12-14 As I went to Damascus. Compare Ac 9:1-2. This is the third account of Paul's conversion, the first being in Ac 9:3-18, and the second in Ac 22:4-16. There are a few new details given here: (1) The over-powering glory of the Lord is specially dwelt upon here; (2) we are here told that the voice heard was in the Hebrew language (he was now speaking Greek to King Agrippa).
At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
26:12-14 As I went to Damascus. Compare Ac 9:1-2. This is the third account of Paul's conversion, the first being in Ac 9:3-18, and the second in Ac 22:4-16. There are a few new details given here: (1) The over-powering glory of the Lord is specially dwelt upon here; (2) we are here told that the voice heard was in the Hebrew language (he was now speaking Greek to King Agrippa).
And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
26:14 In the Hebrew language. This fact that he here states is remarkable. Bengal says:

The Hebrew tongue, Christ's language when on earth; his language, too, when he spoke from heaven.''

It was in the Aramaic, a Hebrew dialect, that the Savior taught when on earth, and it is a significant circumstance that Paul heard his voice in the same tongue to which Peter, James and John had listened. Not only is this true, but critics hold that the Hebraisms are so prominent in the Book of Revelation as to indicate that the revelations there recorded were made in Hebrew, and afterward translated by John into Greek. See Howson on Acts, p. 546.

It is hard for thee to kick against the goad. The proverb is here added (Ac 9:5).

And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
26:16 I have appeared unto thee for this purpose. The mission of Paul to the Gentiles is described as being a part of the Lord's communication. In order that he might be a minister and a witness. It was needful that the apostle of the Gentiles should see Christ. He must be a witness that the Lord had risen. He was chosen for this work before conversion, because he was honest, deeply conscientious, and possessed the great qualities that were needful to fit him for the most important work ever assigned to man.
Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
26:19 I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision. He could still have disobeyed. His will was free, but he could only act in good conscience by obeying Christ.
But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
26:20 First to them of Damascus. He not only was baptized by Ananias in Damascus, but, after some preparation, he began to preach.

And then at Jerusalem. Where he disputed against the Grecians (Ac 9:27-29).

Throughout the region of Judaea. Just when he preached there we are not informed. Hackett thinks it was when he came up with help at the time of the famine (Ac 11:30).

That they should repent. He preached more than a theory; he preached a new life.

For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.
26:21 For these causes the Jews caught me. Because he obeyed and preached Christ.
Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
26:22 I continue unto this day. By the divine help. That had protected him, because he was doing God's work, and he was enabled to witness to all ranks.

Both to small and great. What he witnessed was only what Moses and the prophets had said should come.

That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
26:23 That Christ should suffer, etc. In these things he had the support of Moses and the prophets, and for these things he was accused. He was not at variance with Moses and the law, but preached their meaning.
And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
26:24 Paul, thou art beside thyself. The earnestness and fervor of Paul were so strange to Festus, his doctrine of the resurrection so novel, his manner so sincere, and his testimony so startling, that the Roman could only explain it by a mental delusion.

Much learning doth make thee mad. The display of such vast knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures to Agrippa convinced him that intense study resulted in derangement. It must not be forgotten that Festus had just come into his position, and knew little of Paul.

But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
26:25 I am not mad, most noble Festus. The courteous answer shows the mistake of Festus, a mistake due to his ignorance of the subject.
For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.
26:26 The king knoweth. The facts that he had cited in his discourse were well known to the king, viz. the predictions of the prophets, the hope of a Messiah, the death of Jesus, and the spread of the congregations of those who believed that he was a risen Lord.
King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
26:27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? The king professed to believe them. Yet those very prophets, as Paul had shown, testified to all the facts of the career of Jesus of Nazareth and his claims to Messiahship. This personal appeal deeply moved the king, as his reply shows.
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
26:28 Almost thou persaudest me to be a Christian. The Revised Version changes the translation somewhat ( With but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian ), but I have little doubt but that the Common Version gives the idea. The king, like Felix, was deeply moved (Ac 24:25); the fact that he and Festus decided that Paul was not a transgressors show that they were favorably impressed (Ac 26:32); it was no occasion for an ironical answer, and Paul took the remark as in earnest, and added still another appeal. Chrysostom, Luther, Beza, Bengal and Howson take this view.
And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.
26:29 Paul said, I would to God, etc. His reply is courteous, but of intense earnestness, a last effort to save souls that were deeply stirred. He would that king and governor, all, Jew and Gentile, shared his hope of a glorious inheritance, and were, like himself, at peace with God;--such as he,

except these bonds. It is probable that his chains were then hanging upon his arms, and that he indicated them by a gesture.

And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:
And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.
26:31 When they had gone aside. Retired for private conference. Their decision was that Paul had done nothing justifying his imprisonment. The accusations of the Jews were groundless.
Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.
26:32 This man might have been set at liberty. His innocence was clear, but after the appeal to Caesar, the case belonged to the higher courts, and Festus had no more power to clear than to condemn. It was God's will that Paul should be carried to Rome. There was work for him to do in the capital of the world. See Ac 23:11.
The People's New Testament by B.W. Johnson [1891]

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