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Acts Twenty Six

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Acts 26:1 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:

Acts 26:2 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:

Acts 26:3 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.

Acts 26:4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;

Acts 26:5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

Acts 26:6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:

Acts 26:7 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.

twelve tribes. Paul recognized that representatives from all twelve tribes of Israel were still in Judaea, all still adhering to their ancient religion. There is no suggestion in the New Testament that there were ten lost tribes somewhere else in the world. Israelites indeed were scattered all over the known world, including descendants of those who had been in Assyria (which later had been conquered by Babylon, then by Persia, finally by Greece and Rome).

Acts 26:8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?

a thing incredible. It would be incredible if anyone but God (or those empowered by him) should claim to raise the dead, for only He is the Creator of life. To Paul, it was both anomalous and sad that the Jews, especially the Pharisees, whose hope was centered in the coming Messiah and the promised resurrection, should now be denying that Jesus had proved He was the Messiah by the very fact of His fulfillment of their hope. They believed in the doctrine of the resurrection, especially when the evidence was so strong that many Pharisees (including Paul) already had believed.

Acts 26:9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

Acts 26:10 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.

Acts 26:11 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.

Acts 26:12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,

Acts 26:13 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.

Acts 26:14 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.

kick against the pricks. This somewhat homely expression refers to a harnessed animal trying to kick away the goads restraining him. Evidently, even as Paul had been furiously persecuting the Christians, he had been increasingly smitten in conscience, especially by the remembrance of the demeanor of Stephen when he died, as well as by the willingness of Christians everywhere to suffer and die for their faith, if need be.

Acts 26:15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.

Acts 26:16 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;

But rise. Acts 26:14-18 give a more detailed account of what the Lord Jesus said to Paul on the road to Damascus than is found either in Acts 9:4-6 or Acts 22:7-10.

Acts 26:17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,

Acts 26:18 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.

To open their eyes. These words of the Creator to Paul make it emphatic that the evolutionary pantheism of the Gentiles was not sufficient to bring them salvation. They were, in fact, under “the power of Satan,” who had led them into these false religions. The “god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.” (2 Corinthians 4:4), and Paul had been sent to “open their eyes” to the truth. They were in “darkness,” but Christ died to deliver them “from the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13) into “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Acts 26:19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:

Acts 26:20 But showed 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.

Acts 26:21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.

Acts 26:22 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:

Acts 26:23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

Acts 26:24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.

make thee mad. Festus evidently became impatient at Paul's lengthy expositions of Scripture in justification of his Christian faith and witness. The summary of Paul's address as given here is evidently only that—a mere summary of the Biblical evidence cited by Paul 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” (Acts 26:23). To the Roman Festus, who knew little or nothing of the Jewish Scriptures, and probably cared even less, all of this was incomprehensible, and he expostulated that Paul must have gone mad through so much study about these Jewish fables. But Paul was not speaking to Festus; he was speaking to Agrippa, and he knew Agrippa understood (Acts 26:27). Agrippa no doubt also could understand why the Jews were so incensed at the thought that Paul was teaching the Gentiles that all their own privileges, as God's chosen people, were now going to the Gentiles, too.

Acts 26:25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.

Acts 26:26 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.

Acts 26:27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.

Acts 26:28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

Almost thou persuadest me. Some expositors, because of certain variations in the Greek text here, regard this as a question, or as a sarcastic remark, as though Paul was presumptuous in trying to persuade in a short time such an important man as King Agrippa to become a Christian. However, the majority text, as well as the context, favors the Authorized Version here. If Paul's exposition could make the Roman governor Felix tremble (Acts 24:25) with terror (literal meaning), he could certainly bring strong persuasion to a man such as Agrippa who was much better instructed than Festus in the Scriptures. In any case, mental persuasion is not enough. Agrippa, like many others since, put the decision off, no doubt for political and financial reasons.

Acts 26:29 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.

Acts 26:30 And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:

Acts 26:31 And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.

Acts 26:32 Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.