Acts 26

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Paul's Defense Before Agrippa

1 So 1Agrippa said to Paul, "You have permission to speak for yourself." Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense:
2 "I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today 2against all the accusations of the Jews,
3 especially because you are familiar with all the 3customs and 4controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.
4 5"My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among 6my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews.
5 They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that 7according to the strictest 8party of our 9religion I have lived as 10a Pharisee.
6 And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in 11the promise made by God to our fathers,
7 12to which 13our twelve tribes hope to 14attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope 15I am accused by Jews, O king!
8 Why is it thought 16incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
9 17"I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of 18Jesus of Nazareth.
10 19And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority 20from the chief priests, but 21when they were put to death I cast my vote against them.
11 And 22I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them 23blaspheme, and 24in raging fury against them I 25persecuted them even to foreign cities.

Paul Tells of His Conversion

12 "In this connection 26I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests.
13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me.
14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me 27in the Hebrew language,[a] 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
15 And I said, 'Who are you, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
16 But rise and 28stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, 29to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,
17 30delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles--31to whom I 32am sending you
18 33to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from 34the power of Satan to God, that they may receive 35forgiveness of sins and 36a place among those who are sanctified 37by faith in me.'
19 "Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to 38the heavenly vision,
20 but declared first 39to those in Damascus, 40then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also 41to the Gentiles, that they should 42repent and 43turn to God, performing deeds 44in keeping with their repentance.
21 For this reason 45the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.
22 46To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so 47I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what 48the prophets and Moses said would come to pass:
23 49that the Christ 50must suffer and that, 51by being the first 52to rise from the dead, 53he would proclaim 54light both to our people and to the Gentiles."
24 And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, 55you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind."
25 But Paul said, "I am not out of my mind, 56most excellent Festus, but I am speaking 57true and 58rational words.
26 For 59the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner.
27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe."
28 And Agrippa said to Paul, "In a short time would you persuade me to be 60a Christian?"[b]
29 And Paul said, "Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day 61might become such as I am--except for 62these chains."
30 Then the king rose, and 63the governor and Bernice and those who were sitting with them.
31 And when they had withdrawn, they said to one another, 64"This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment."
32 And Agrippa said to Festus, 65"This man could have been set 66free if he had not appealed 67to Caesar."

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Acts 26 Commentary

Chapter 26

Paul's defence before Agrippa. (1-11) His conversion and preaching to the Gentiles. (12-23) Festus and Agrippa convinced of Paul's innocence. (24-32)

Verses 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.

Verses 12-23 Paul was made a Christian by Divine power; by a revelation of Christ both to him and in him; when in the full career of his sin. He was made a minister by Divine authority: the same Jesus who appeared to him in that glorious light, ordered him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. A world that sits in darkness must be enlightened; those must be brought to know the things that belong to their everlasting peace, who are yet ignorant of them. A world that lies in wickedness must be sanctified and reformed; it is not enough for them to have their eyes opened, they must have their hearts renewed; not enough to be turned from darkness to light, but they must be turned from the power of Satan unto God. All who are turned from sin to God, are not only pardoned, but have a grant of a rich inheritance. The forgiveness of sins makes way for this. None can be happy who are not holy; and to be saints in heaven we must be first saints on earth. We are made holy, and saved by faith in Christ; by which we rely upon Christ as the Lord our Righteousness, and give up ourselves to him as the Lord our Ruler; by this we receive the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and eternal life. The cross of Christ was a stumbling-block to the Jews, and they were in a rage at Paul's preaching the fulfilling of the Old Testament predictions. Christ should be the first that should rise from the dead; the Head or principal One. Also, it was foretold by the prophets, that the Gentiles should be brought to the knowledge of God by the Messiah; and what in this could the Jews justly be displeased at? Thus the true convert can give a reason of his hope, and a good account of the change manifest in him. Yet for going about and calling on men thus to repent and to be converted, vast numbers have been blamed and persecuted.

Verses 24-32 It becomes us, on all occasions, to speak the words of truth and soberness, and then we need not be troubled at the unjust censures of men. Active and laborious followers of the gospel often have been despised as dreamers or madmen, for believing such doctrines and such wonderful facts; and for attesting that the same faith and diligence, and an experience like their own, are necessary to all men, whatever their rank, in order to their salvation. But apostles and prophets, and the Son of God himself, were exposed to this charge; and none need be moved thereby, when Divine grace has made them wise unto salvation. Agrippa saw a great deal of reason for Christianity. His understanding and judgment were for the time convinced, but his heart was not changed. And his conduct and temper were widely different from the humility and spirituality of the gospel. Many are almost persuaded to be religious, who are not quite persuaded; they are under strong convictions of their duty, and of the excellence of the ways of God, yet do not pursue their convictions. Paul urged that it was the concern of every one to become a true Christian; that there is grace enough in Christ for all. He expressed his full conviction of the truth of the gospel, the absolute necessity of faith in Christ in order to salvation. Such salvation from such bondage, the gospel of Christ offers to the Gentiles; to a lost world. Yet it is with much difficulty that any person can be persuaded he needs a work of grace on his heart, like that which was needful for the conversion of the Gentiles. Let us beware of fatal hesitation in our own conduct; and recollect how far the being almost persuaded to be a Christian, is from being altogether such a one as every true believer is.

Cross References 67

  • 1. See Acts 9:15
  • 2. Acts 25:7, 19; [ver. 7]
  • 3. See Acts 6:14
  • 4. See Acts 18:15
  • 5. [Galatians 1:13]
  • 6. Acts 24:17; Acts 28:19
  • 7. Acts 22:3
  • 8. See Acts 24:5
  • 9. James 1:26, 27
  • 10. Acts 23:6
  • 11. See Acts 13:32
  • 12. [Acts 2:33; Hebrews 10:36; Hebrews 11:13, 39]
  • 13. Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30; James 1:1; Revelation 21:12; [Ezra 6:17]
  • 14. Philippians 3:11
  • 15. ver. 2
  • 16. [Acts 17:3; 1 Corinthians 15:12]
  • 17. 1 Timothy 1:13; [John 16:2]; See Acts 3:17
  • 18. Acts 22:8
  • 19. See Acts 8:3
  • 20. ver. 12; Acts 9:1, 2, 14, 21; Acts 22:4, 5
  • 21. See Acts 22:20
  • 22. Acts 22:19
  • 23. See Acts 13:45
  • 24. Acts 9:1
  • 25. Acts 22:5
  • 26. For ver. 12-18, see Acts 9:3-8; Acts 22:6-11
  • 27. Acts 21:40; Acts 22:2
  • 28. Ezekiel 2:1; Daniel 10:11
  • 29. See Acts 22:14, 15
  • 30. [Acts 12:11; 1 Chronicles 16:35; Jeremiah 1:8, 19; Jeremiah 15:20]
  • 31. See Acts 9:15
  • 32. [Romans 11:13; 1 Timothy 2:7]
  • 33. Isaiah 35:5; Isaiah 42:7
  • 34. See Luke 22:53; 1 Corinthians 5:5
  • 35. See Acts 5:31
  • 36. See Acts 20:32
  • 37. [Acts 15:9; 2 Thessalonians 2:13]
  • 38. ver. 13
  • 39. Acts 9:19, 20
  • 40. Acts 9:26-29; Acts 22:17-20
  • 41. See Acts 13:46
  • 42. See Acts 2:38
  • 43. See Acts 14:15
  • 44. Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8
  • 45. Acts 21:27, 30, 31; Acts 24:18
  • 46. 2 Corinthians 1:10; [Hebrews 13:5, 6]
  • 47. [Ephesians 6:13]
  • 48. See Acts 10:43; Acts 24:14
  • 49. [Luke 24:26; Hebrews 2:10]; See Acts 3:18
  • 50. [John 12:34]
  • 51. 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5
  • 52. Romans 1:4
  • 53. [Ephesians 2:17]
  • 54. ver. 18; See Luke 2:32
  • 55. Acts 12:15; [ver. 8; Acts 17:32; 2 Kings 9:11; Jeremiah 29:26; Mark 3:21; John 10:20; 1 Corinthians 1:23; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Corinthians 4:10]
  • 56. See Acts 24:2
  • 57. [2 Peter 1:16]
  • 58. [2 Corinthians 5:13]
  • 59. [ver. 3]
  • 60. Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16
  • 61. [1 Corinthians 7:7]
  • 62. See Acts 21:33
  • 63. See Acts 23:24
  • 64. See Acts 23:29
  • 65. Acts 28:18
  • 66. Acts 25:11; Acts 28:19
  • 67. See Acts 9:15

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or the Hebrew dialect (that is, Aramaic)
  • [b]. Or In a short time you would persuade me to act like a Christian!

Acts 26 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.