Acts 26
Pulpit Commentary
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
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.
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:
Verse 2. - That I am to make my defense before thee this day for because I shall answer for myself this day before thee, A.V.; by for of, A.V.
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.
Verse 3. - Thou art expert for I know thee to be expert, A.V. and T.R. Expert; γνώστην, here only in the New Testament, but found in the LXX. (Daniel, i.e. Hist. of Susanna 42) applied to God, ὁ τῶν κρυπτῶν γνώστης: and 1 Samuel 28:3 and 2 Kings 21:6, as the rendering of יִדֹּעְנִי, a wizard. It is seldom found in classical Greek. According to the R.T., which is that generally adopted (Meyer, Kuinoel, Wordsworth, Alford, etc.), the accusative γνώστην ὄντα σέ is put, by a not uncommon construction, for the genitive absolute, as in Ephesians 1:18. The marginal rendering, because thou art especially expert, seems preferable to that in the text. Customs and questions. For the use of ἔθη and ζητήματα applied to Jewish customs and controversies, see Acts 6:14; Acts 16:21; Acts 21:21, etc.; and Acts 25:19, note.
My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
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.)
Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
Verse 5. - Having knowledge of me from the first for which knew me from the beginning, A.V.; be willing to for would, A.V.; how that for that, A.V.; straitest for most straitest, A.V. Straitest (ἀκριβεστάτην); see Acts 22:3; Acts 18:26, etc. Sect (αἵρεσις); see Acts 24:14, note. He does not disclaim being still a Pharisee. On the contrary, in the next verse (ver. 6) he declares, as he had done in Acts 23:6, that it was for the chief hope of the Pharisees that he was now accused. He tries to enlist all the good feeling that yet remained among the Jews on his side.
And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
Verse 6. - Here to be judged for and am judged, A.V. To be judged (ἕστηκα κρινόμενος); rather, I stand on my trial. The A.V. seems to give the sense well. The hope of the promise. The hope of the kingdom of Christ, which necessarily implies the resurrection of the dead. This hope, which rested upon God's promise to the fathers, Paul clung to; this hope his Sadducean persecutors denied. He, then, was the true Jew; he was faithful to Moses and the prophets; he claimed the sympathy and support of all true Israelites, and specially of King Agrippa.
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.
Verse 7. - Earnestly for instantly, A.V.; might and day for day and night, A.V.; attain for come, A.V.; and concerning this hope I am accused by the Jews, O King! for for which hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews, A.V. and T.R. Our twelve tribes. Δωδεκάφυλον only occurs here, in the Sibylline oracles, and in the prot-evangel. Jacob., 3, and in Clement's 1 Corinthians 55, but is formed, after the analogy of such words as δωδεκαετής δωδεκάμοιρος δωδεκάμηνος τετράφυλος δεκάφυλος (Herod., 5:66), and the like. The idea of the twelve tribes of Israel is part of the essential conception of the Israel of God. So our Lord (Matthew 19:28; James 1:1; Revelation 7:4, etc.). St. Paul felt and spoke like a thorough Israelite. Earnestly; ἐν ἐκτενείᾳ, only here and in 2 Macc. 14:38 (where Razis is said to have risked his body and his life for the religion of the Jews, μετᾶ πάσης ἐκτενίας, "with all vehemence," A.V.), and Jud. 4:9, where the phrase, ἐν ἐκτενίᾳ μεγάλῃ, "with great vehemency," "with great fervency," A.V., occurs twice, applied to prayer and to self-humiliation. The adjective ἐκτενής occurs in Acts 12:5; Luke 22:44; 1 Peter 4:8; and ἐκτενῶς in 1 Peter 1:22. Serving (λατρεῦον); i.e. serving with worship, prayers, sacrifices and the like. The allusion is to the temple service, with its worship by night and by day (comp. Psalm 134:1; 1 Chronicles 9:33).
Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?
Verse 8. - Why is it judged incredible with you, if for why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that, A.V.; doth for should, A.V. Why is it judged, etc. The use of d is somewhat peculiar. It cannot stand for ὅτι, but it is nearly equivalent to "whether," as in ver. 23. The question proposed to the mind is here whether God has raised the dead; and in ver. 23 whether Christ has suffered, whether he is the first to rise. In the latter case St. Paul gives the answer by his witness to the truth, affirming that it is so. In the former case he chides his hearers for giving the answer of unbelief, and saying that it is not so.
I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
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.).
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.
Verse 10. - And this for which thing, A.V.; I both shut up for did I shut up, A.V. (with a change of order); prisons for prison, A.V.; vote for voice, A.V. I... shut up. The ἐγώ is emphatic. The verb κατακλείω, peculiar to St. Luke (see Luke 3:20) is much used by medical writers. Were put to death; ἀναιρουμένων, a word frequent in St. Luke's writings, and much used in medical works, as well as ἀναίρεσις (Acts 8:1). The phrase καταφέρειν ψῆφον is unusual; φέρειν ψῆφον is the more common phrase, both in Josephus and in classical writers. I gave my vote, etc. Not, as Meyer and others take it, "I assented to it, at the moment of their being killed," equivalent to συνευδοκῶν of Acts 22:20; but rather," when the Christians were being punished with death, I was one of those who in the Sanhedrim voted for their death."
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.
Verse 11. - Punishing them oftentimes in all the synagogues, I strove to make them blaspheme for I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme, A.V.; foreign for strange, A.V. In all the synagogues. Those in Jerusalem, as the contrast of the foreign cities shows. (For the facts, see Acts 8:1, 3.) I strove, etc. The "compelled" of the A.V. is the natural rendering of ἠνάγκαζον (Matthew 14:22; Luke 14:23; Acts 28:19, etc.); but it does not necessarily follow that the compulsion was successful. It might be in some cases, and not in others. Pliny, in his letter to Trajan, says that those who were accused of being Christians cleared themselves by calling upon the gods, offering to the image of the emperor, and cursing Christ, none of which things, it is said, true Christians ("qui sunt revera Christiani") can be compelled to do ('Epist.,' 10, 95, quoted by Kuinoel). Mad against them; ἐμμαινόμενος αὐτοῖς, only here; but the adjective ἐμμανής, frantic, is not uncommon in classical writers.
Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
Verse 12. - Journeyed for went, A.V.; with the authority... of for with authority... from, A.V. and T.R. Commission; ἐπιτροπῆς, here only in the New Testament. But ἐπίτροπος is a "steward" (Matthew 20:8; Luke 8:3); and hence the Roman procurator was called in Greek, ἐπίτροπος, and so were governors generally, as those who acted with a delegated authority. The chief priests. In Acts 9:1 Saul is said to have applied to "the chief priest" for authority. The high priest, as president of the Sanhedrim, acted with the other chief priests (Acts 9:14).
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.
Verse 13. - On for in, A.V.; that for which, A.V. At midday. "About noon" (Acts 22:6). It enhanced the wonder of that light from heaven that it should be seen above the brightness of the sun at midday, in such a latitude.
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.
Verse 14. - Saying unto me in the Hebrew language for speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, A.V. and T.R.; goad for pricks, A.V. I heard a voice saying, etc. (see Acts 9:7, note). In the Hebrew language. This is an additional detail not mentioned in Acts 9:4 or Acts 22:8; but recalled here, as tending to confirm St. Paul's claim to be a thorough Jew, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, and, moreover, to represent Christianity as a thing not alien from, but rather in thorough harmony with, the true national life and spirit of Israel. It is hard for thee to kick, etc. This, also, according to the best manuscripts, is an additional detail not mentioned before. The proverb Πρὸς κέντρα λακτίζειν, to kick against the ox-goads, as the unbroken bullock does to his own hurt, instead of quietly submitting, as he must do at last, to go the way and the pace his master chooses he should go, is found in Pindar, AEschylus, Euripides, Plautus, Terence, etc. The passages are given in Bochart, 'Hierozoicon.,' part 1. lib. it. Acts 39; in Kninoel, and in Bishop Wordsworth. The passage in Eurip., 'Baach,' 1. 793, 794 (750, 751), brings out the force of the proverb, viz. fruitless resistance to a superior power, most distinctly: "Better to sacrifice to him, than, being mortal, by vainly raging against God, to kick against the goads." Saul had better yield at once to the constraining grace of God, and no longer do despite to the Spirit of grace. It does not appear clearly that the proverb was used by the Hebrews. Dr. Donaldson ('Christian Orthodoxy,' p. 293) affirms that" there is no Jewish use of this proverbial expression." And this is borne out by Lightfoot, who adduces the two passages, Deuteronomy 32:15 and 1 Samuel 2:9, as the only evidences of the existence of such a proverb, together with a rabbinical saying, "R. Bibai sat and taught, and R. Isaac Ben Cahna kicked against him" ('Exereit. on Acts,' 9:5). It is, therefore, a curious question how this classical phrase came to be used here. Bishop Wordsworth says, "Even in heaven our Lord did not disdain to use a proverb familiar to the heathen world." But, perhaps, we may assume that such a proverb was substantially in use among the Jews, though no distinct evidence of it has been preserved; and that St. Paul, in rendering the Hebrew words of Jesus into Greek, made use of the language of Euripides, with which he was familiar, in a case bearing a strong analogy to his own, viz. the resistance of Pentheus to the claims of Bacchus. This is to a certain extent borne out by the use of the words θεομάχος and θεομαχεῖν (Acts 5:39; Acts 23:9); the latter of which is twice used in the 'Bacchae' of Euripides, though not common elsewhere. It is, however, found in 2 Macc. 7:19.
And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
Verse 15. - The Lord for he, A.V. and T.R.
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;
Verse 16. - Arise for rise, A.V.; to this end have I, etc., for I have, etc., for this purpose, A.V.; appoint for make, A.V.; the things wherein thou hast seen me for these things which thou hast seen, A.V. and T.R.; the things wherein for those things in the which, A.V. For to this end have I appeared, etc. On comparing this statement with those in Acts 9:6 and Acts 22:10, 14, 15, it appears that in this condensed account given before King Agrippa, St. Paul blends into one message the words spoken to him when the Lord first appeared to him, and the instruction subsequently given to him through Ananias, and the words spoken to him in the trance (Acts 22:17-21). This may especially be inferred from Acts 9:6, and again from comparing Acts 22:15 with this verse.
Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
Verse 17. - Unto whom for unto whom note, A.V. Unto [the Gentiles]. These seem to be the words heard in the trance reported in Acts 22:21, the sequel to which, as contained in ver. 18, the apostle would then have recited, had he not been cut short by the furious cries of the Jews.
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.
Verse 18. - That they may turn for and to turn them, A.V. and T.R.; remission for forgiveness, A.V.; an inheritance for inheritance, A.V.; that for which, A.V.; faith in me for faith that is in me, A.V. To open their eyes (comp. Luke 4:18 and the LXX. of Isaiah 61:1; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6, etc.). That they may turn from darkness to light (comp. Colossians 1:12, 13; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Peter 2:9, etc.). Remission of sins (see Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; Acts 10:43).
Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
Verse 19. - Wherefore for whereupon, A.V. Disobedient (ἀπειθής); see Luke 1:17; Romans 1:30, etc. The turn of the phrase is moat skillful; as if be should say, "Can you blame me for obeying such a heavenly message? How could I act otherwise, being thus directed?" Vision (ὀπτασία); Luke 1:22; Luke 24:23; 2 Corinthians 12:1. Found also repeatedly in the LXX. of Daniel and Wisdom (comp. the use of ὀπτάνω, Acts 1:3).
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.
Verse 20. - Declared for showed, A.V.; both to them of Damascus first for first unto them of Damascus, A.V. and T.R.; country for coasts, A.V.; also for then, A.V.; doing for and do, A.V.; worthy of for meet for, A.V. Them of Damascus first, etc. He enumerates his evangelical labors in the order in which they took place: at Damascus first, as related in Acts 9:19-22; then at Jerusalem, as in Acts 9:26-29; and then those on a larger and wider scale, among the Jews of Palestine and the heathen in all the countries which he visited. Throughout all the country of Judaea. This does not allude to any preaching in the land of Judaea at the time of his first visit to Jerusalem (Acts 9:25), because he says in Galatians 1:22, that at that time, viz. before he went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, he was still "unknown by face unto the Churches of Judaea." But he had opportunities later of preaching in Judaea. For instance, the language of Acts 11:29 suggests that such an opportunity may have arisen when Paul and Barnabas carried up the alms of the Christians at Antioch "unto the brethren that dwelt in Judaea." Another opportunity he manifestly had when he passed with Barnabas through Phoenicia and Samaria to Jerusalem, as related in Acts 15:3. Another, when he went from Caesarea to Jerusalem, as related in Acts 18:22. Again, there was room for working among the Jews in Palestine while he was staying at Caesarea "many days," and journeying to Jerusalem, as we read in Acts 21:10, 15. So that there is no contradiction whatever between the statement in this verse and that in Galatians 1:22. The clauses in this verse are two:

(1) "both to them at Damascus, and at Jerusalem first;" and

(2) "and throughout all Judaea, and to the Gentiles."
For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.
Verse 21. - This cause for these causes, A.V.; seized for caught, A.V.; essayed for went about, A.V. For this cause. Here again is a most telling statement. "I have spent my life in trying to persuade men to repent and turn to God, and for doing so the Jews seek to kill me. Can this be right? Will not you, O King Agrippa, protect me from such an unjust requital?" To kill me; διαχειρίσασθαι, here and in Acts 5:30 only in the New Testament; not in the LXX., but in Polybius, and in Hippocrates and Galen, of surgical operations.
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:
Verse 22. - The help that is from God for help of God, A.V.; stand for continue, A.V.; testifying for witnessing, A.V.; nothing but what for none other things than those which, A.V. Help, etc.; ἐπικουρία, here only and in Wisd. 13:18, still of Divine help; in medical writers frequently, of aid from medicine and physicians; common also in classical writers, of auxiliary forces. It is properly spoken of help and allies from without (Bengel). I stand; i.e. I continue unmoved, steadfast, and, by God's help, not crushed by my enemies. Testifying. The natural rendering of the R.T. μαρτυρόμενος. The T.R. μαρτυρούμενος, followed by ὑπὸ, would mean "borne witness to," "approved," as in Acts 6:3; Acts 10:22, etc., and so Meyer understands it here. But μαρτυρύμενος makes much better sense, and is much better supported by manuscript authority. It is in close agreement with Acts 9:15 and Acts 22:15, that St Paul should thus "testify" to small and great.
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.
Verse 23. - How that the Christ must for that Christ should, A.V.; how that he first by the resurrection of the dead should proclaim for that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show, A.V.; both to for unto, A.V. and T.R. How that (εἰ); see ver. 8, note. Must suffer; ταθητός only here and in profane Greek writers. The exact meaning of παθητός is "liable to suffering," just as θνητός (from θνήσκω) means "liable to death," i.e. mortal. But just as θνητός in use comes to mean "one who must die," so παθητός means "one who must suffer;" and so we read in Luke 24:26, Οὐχὶ ἔδει παθεῖν τὸν Ξριστὸν καὶ εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν δόξαν αὑτοῦ; "Ought not Christ to have suffered," etc.? And so again in Luke 24:46 (T.R.), Ἔδει παθεῖν τὸν Ξριστὸν καὶ ἀναστῆναι ἐκ νεκρῶν, "It behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead," where the turn of thought is exactly the same as here. The Vulgate renders it by passibilis. The Fathers (Ignatius, Polycarp, Justin Martyr) contrast the state of Christ in glory with his state in the flesh by the words ἀπαθής and παθητός, "impassible" and "passible." That he first by the resurrection of the dead should proclaim, etc. Most commentators, from Chrysostom downwards, connect the first with the resurrection. "First from the resurrection," equal to πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν (Colossians 1:18). As Meyer truly says, "The chief stress of this sentence lies on πρῶτος ἐξ ἀναστάσεως." The A.V. gives the sense by a periphrasis; only it must be well understood that it was especially by being the first to rise, and so to bring life and immortality to light, that Christ showed light to the people. The words may, of course, be construed as the R.V. does, but such a rendering is not in accordance with the spirit of the passage or the analogy of other passages. Christ was the first rise, and he will be followed by them that are his. But it is not true to say that he was the first to give light to Jews and Gentiles, and will be followed by others doing the same. (For the sentiment, setup. Luke 2:32.) Note on the whole the enormous stress laid by St. Paul on the fulfillment of prophecy as a proof of the truth of the gospel, following therein our Lord himself (Luke 24:25, 27, 44, 45).
And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
Verse 24. - Made his defense for spake for himself, A.V. (ἀπολογουμένου, as ver. 2); saith for said, A.V.; mad for beside thyself, A.V.; thy much for much, A.V.; turn thee to madness for make thee mad, A.V. With a loud voice. Another detail, betraying the eyewitness of the scene described. Thou art mad (μαίνῃ); Acts 12:15; John 10:20; 1 Corinthians 14:23. Much learning (τὰ πολλά γράμματα). So John 7:15, "How knoweth this man letters (γράμματα)?" is equivalent to Whence hath this man this wisdom? (Matthew 13:54). And ἀγράμματος ιν Acts 4:13 is "unlearned." The excited interruption by Festus shows that he was unable to accept the truths enunciated by the apostle. The ideas of fulfilled prophecy, and of the resurrection of the dead, and of a crucified Jew giving light to the great Roman world, were" foolishness unto him," because he lacked spiritual discernment. He thought the apostle's glowing words must be the outcome of a disordered mind. Turn thee to madness (εἰς μανίαν περιτρέπει). The word μανία (mania) occurs only here in the New Testament. But it is the technical name in medical writers for the disease of μανία, mania, and is also common in classical writers. The verb for "doth turn" (περιτρέπει) is also peculiar to St. Luke, being found only in this place. It is used by Plato, but specially by medical writers, as is also the substantive formed from it, περιτροπή, spoken of the "turn" taken by a disease, and the simple verb τρέπει and τρέπεται: e.g. ἔτρεψε γνώμην ἐς μανίην: ἐς σκυθρωππὸν ἡ μανίη τρέπεται: τοῖς μαινομένοισι ἄλλοτε μὲν ἐς ὀῤγὴν ἄλλοτε δὲ ἐς θυμηδίαν (mirth) ἡγνώμη τρέπεται, etc. (Hobart, p. 468).
But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
Verse 25. - Paul saith for he said, A.V. and T.R.; excellent for noble, A.V.; words for the words, A.V. Most excellent (κράτιστε). It appears to be the proper title to give the procurator (see Acts 23:26; Acts 24:3). St. Luke also applies it to Theophilus (Luke 1:3). In classical Greek οἱ κράτιστοι are the aristocracy. Soberness (σωφροσύνη); sound or sober mindedness; just the opposite of the μανία of which he was accused. See the use of σωφρονεῖν (Mark 5:15; Luke 8:35; 2 Corinthians 5:13, etc.), and of σωφρονίζειν σωφρωνισμός σώφρων, etc. So also in Plato, σωφρωσύνη is opposed to μανία.
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.
Verse 26. - Unto for before, A.V.; is hidden for are hidden, A.V.; this hath not been for this thing was not, A.V. For the king, etc. Something in Agrippa's manner showed St. Paul that he was not unaffected by what he had heard. And so with his usual quickness and tact he appeals to him to confirm the "words of truth and soberness" which he had just addressed to the skeptical Festus. I speak freely. He was indeed a prisoner and in chains, as he so touchingly said (in ver. 29), but the word of God in his mouth was not bound. Παρρησιαζόμενος (see Acts 9:27; Acts 13:46; Acts 14:3; Acts 18:26; Acts 19:8; and the frequent use of παρρησία).
King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
Verse 28. - And for then, A.V.; with but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian for almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian, A.V. With but little persuasion (ἐν ὀλίγῳ κ.τ.λ.). This saying of Agrippa's is obscure and variously explained. The A.V., following Chrysostom, Beza, Luther, etc., takes ἐν ὀλίγῳ to mean "within a little" or" almost," like the Hebrew כִּמְעַט, which is very suitable to the context. The corresponding ἐν πόλλῳ, or, as otherwise read, ἐν μεγάλῳ would then mean, as in the A.V., "altogether," and the sense of the whole passage is striking and appropriate. But there is some difficulty in getting Otis meaning out of the words. The natural way of expressing it would be παρ ὀλίγον, or ὀλίγου, or ὀλίγον δεῖ. Hence many other commentators take ἐν ὀλίγῳ to mean "in a short time," and the sense to be either "you are making short work of my conversion: you are persuading me to become a Christian as suddenly as you yourself did;" with a corresponding sense for ἐν πόλλῳ, "in a long time," i.e. whether it takes a short or a long time, I pray God you may become a Christian like myself;" or, "you are soon persuading me," you will soon persuade me if you go on any longer in this strain. Others, again, preferring the reading ἐν μεγάλῳ in ver. 29, take ἐν ὀλίγῳ to mean "with little trouble," or "with few words," as Ephesians 3:5 (understanding λόγῳ or πόνῳ), "lightly" (Alford), and then the opposite ἐν μεγάλῳ would mean "with much trouble," "with many words," i.e. "with difficulty." But this is rather a fiat rendering. Another difference of opinion is whether the words of Agrippa are to be taken ironically, or sarcastically, or jestingly, or whether they are to be taken seriously, as the words of a man shaken in his convictions and seriously impressed by what he had heard. The whole turn of the narrative seems to favor the latter view. Another view, started by Chrysostom, is that Agrippa used the words in one sense, and St. Paul (mistakenly or advisedly) took them in another. Another possible explanation is that ἐν ὀλίγῳ is here used in the sense in which Thucydides employs the phrase (it. 86 and Ephesians 4:26), Τὴν ἐν ὀλίγῳ ναυμάχιαν and Ἐν ὀλίγῳ στρατοπεδευομένος, viz. "in a narrow place;" and that Agrippa meant to say, "By your appeal to the prophets you press me hard; you have got me into a corner. I am in a στενοχωρία, a ' narrow room; ' I hardly know how to get out of it." The ἐν μεγάλῳ would then mean a" large room," a εὐρυχωρία (Psalm 30:8). This would suppose ἐν ὀλίγῳ and ἐν μεγάλῳ to have become proverbial phrases.
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.
Verse 29. - Whether with little or with much for both almost, and altogether, A.V.; might become for were, A.V. (the order of the words is also changed). I would to God; literally, I would pray to God. It is not very different from the ηὐχόμην of Romans 9:3. All acknowledge the extreme beauty and taste of this reply, combining the firmness of the martyr with the courtesy of the gentleman. "Loquitur Paulus ex sensu suae beatitudinis, cum amore latissimo" (Bengel).
And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:
Verse 30. - And the king rose up for and when he had thus spoken, the king, etc., A.V. and T.R. They that sat with them. The chief captains and principal men and the royal attendants of Acts 25:23.
And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.
Verse 31. - Had withdrawn for were gone aside, A.V.; spake one to another for talked between themselves, A.V. Had withdrawn; viz. from the public hall, the ἀκροατήριον of Acts 25:23, into the private room, "the withdrawing-room" adjoining it. There they freely talked over the trial, and all agreed that the prisoner had done nothing to deserve either death or imprisonment. Paul had made a favorable impression upon both Jews and Romans.
Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.
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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