SUMMARY.--Agrippa's Knowledge of the Law and the Jews. Paul's Early Career and Hatred of Christ. The Great Doctrine of the Resurrection. 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.
19-20. 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. He not only was baptized by Ananias in Damascus, but, after some preparation, he began to preach, first in Damascus ( 9:27 ), and then at Jerusalem, where he disputed against the Grecians ( Acts 9:28 Acts 9:29 ). Just when he preached throughout the coasts of Judea we are not informed. Hackett thinks it was when he came up with help at the time of the famine ( 11:30 ). That they should repent. He preached more than a theory; he preached a new life.
21-23. For these causes the Jews caught me. Because he obeyed and preached Christ. I continue to 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, viz.: That Christ should suffer, rise, shew light to the people, and to the Gentiles. 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.
24-26. 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. 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. I am not mad, most noble Festus. The courteous answer shows the mistake of Festus, a mistake due to his ignorance of the subject. 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.
27-30. 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. Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. The Revision changes the translation somewhat, but I have little doubt but that the Common Version gives the idea. The king, like Felix ( 24:25 ), was deeply moved; the fact that he and Festus decided ( verse 32 ) that Paul was not a transgressors show that they were favorably impressed; it was no occasion for an ironical answer, and Paul took the remark as in earnest, and added still another appeal. Chrysostom, Luther, Beza, Bengel and Howson take this view. 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, save these bonds. It is probable that his chains were then hanging upon his arms, and that he indicated them by a gesture.
31, 32. 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. This man might have been set at liberty. His innocence was clear, but after the appeal to Cæsar, 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 23:11 ).