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÷÷ACTS 26

ACTS 26

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4

NKJV

NRSV

TEV

NJB

Paul Defends Himself Before Agrippa Paul's Early Life Paul's Defense Before Agrippa
(25:13-26:32)
Paul Defends Himself Before Agrippa Paul Appears Before King Agrippa
25:13-26:1
26:1-11 26:1-11 26:1 26:1 Paul's Speech Before King Agrippa
26:2-3 26:2-3 26:2-3
26:4-8 26:4-8 26:4-8
26:9-11 26:9-11 26:9-11
Paul Tells of His Conversion Paul Recounts His Conversion Paul Tells of His Conversion
26:12-18 26:12-18 26:12-18 26:12-18 26:12-18
Paul's Testimony to Jews and Gentiles Paul's Post-conversion Life Paul Tells of His Work
26:19-23 26:19-23 26:19-23 26:19-23 26:19-23
Paul Appeals to Agrippa to Believe His Hearers' Reactions
26:24-29 26:24-32 26:24-29 26:24 26:24-29
26:25-27
26:28
26:29
26:30-32 26:30-32 26:30-32 26:30-32

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Third paragraph, etc.

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

÷ACTS 26:1

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: ACTS 26:1
 1Agrippa said to Paul, "You are permitted to speak for yourself." Then Paul stretched out his hand and proceeded to make his defense:

26:1 "stretched out his hand" This was a gesture of greeting and oratorical introduction (cf. Acts 12:17; 13:16 and 21:40, in which gestures of the hand are used for attention and silence).

÷ACTS 26:2-3

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: ACTS 26:2-3
 2"In regard to all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa, that I am about to make my defense before you today; 3especially because you are an expert in all customs and questions among the Jews; therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.

26:2-3 Paul introduces his defense in a typical formal and flattering way, as he did in his trial before Felix (cf. Acts 24:10), which was probably a culturally expected necessity.

Special Topic: Pul's Legal Defense

26:2 "In regard to all the things of which I am accused by the Jews" Agrippa II had been put in charge of the Temple and Priesthood by Rome. Although pro-Roman and educated in Rome, he understood the intricacies of the Jewish faith (cf. Acts 26:3).

Special Topic: Jews

▣ "fortunate" This is the same term which introduces each of the Beatitudes of Matt. 5:3-12; Luke 6:20-22; and Ps. 1:1 in the Septuagint.

26:3
NASB, NKJV, Peshitta   "all customs and questions"
NRSV   "all customs and controversies"
TEV   "all of the Jewish customs and disputes"
NJB   "customs and controversy"
REB   "all our Jewish customs and controversies"

The first term is ethōn, from which we get the English word "ethnic," or the cultural aspect of a particular people group.

The second term dzētēmatōn is used often in Acts to denote debates and arguments over aspects of rabbinical Judaism (cf. Acts 15:2; 18:15; 23:19; 25:19; 26:3). These were not uncommon because of the existence of several factions within first century Judaism: Sadducees, Pharisees (also the theological factions of Shammai and Hillel), and the zealots.

÷ACTS 26:4-8

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: ACTS 26:4-8
 4"So then, all Jews know my manner of life from my youth up, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation and at Jerusalem; 5since they have known about me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion. 6"And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers; 7the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day. And for this hope, O King, I am being accused by Jews. 8"Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead?

26:4 "all Jews know my manner of life" Paul has repeated this several times (cf. Acts 22:3-5; 23:1; 24:16; 25:8). Paul had lived an exemplary life among the Jews in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 26:5).

▣ "my own nation" It is uncertain where Paul grew up. This could refer to (1) Tarsus in Cilicia or (2) Jerusalem.

26:5 "if" This is a THIRD CLASS CONDITIONAL SENTENCE which means potential action. In this context Paul knows they could testify about his past, but they would not.

▣ "Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion" This was a theological sect of Judaism which emerged during the Maccabean Period. It was committed to the oral and written tradition.

Special Topic: Pharisees

26:6 "the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers" This refers to the OT prophecy of (1) the coming of the Messiah or (2) the resurrection of the dead (cf. Acts 23:6; 24:15; Job 14:14-15; 19:25-27; Dan. 12:2). Paul saw "the Way" as the fulfillment of the OT (cf. Matt. 5:17-19; Galatians 3).

For "hope" see Special Topic: Hope

Special Topic: The Kerygma of the Early Church

26:7 "our twelve tribes" The tribal lineage (children of Jacob) was still very important to the Jews. Many of the ten northern tribes never came back from Assyrian exile (722 B.C.). We know some tribal information from the NT.

  1. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were from the tribe of Judah (cf. Matt. 1:2-16; Luke 3:23-33; Rev. 5:5)
  2. Anna's tribe is identified as Asher (cf. Luke 2:36)
  3. Paul's tribe is identified as Benjamin (cf. Rom. 11:1; Phil. 3:5)

Herod the Great was jealous of this and had the Temple records, which showed genealogies, burned.

For "twelve" see Special Topic: The Number Twelve

▣ "hope" One wonders exactly which hope Paul is referring to. From the larger context one would assume the resurrection (cf. Acts 26:8).

Special Topic: Hope

▣ "as they earnestly serve God night and day" Paul loved his racial group (cf. Rom. 9:1-3). He knew how hard they tried to serve YHWH. He also uniquely knew the danger of legalism, dogmatism, and elitism.

"Night and day" was an idiom of intensity and regularity (cf. Acts 20:31; Luke 2:37).

26:8 "Why is it considered incredible among you people" Paul is speaking to two groups:

  1. Agrippa and other Jews present
  2. the Gentiles present, such as Festus

▣ "if" This is a FIRST CLASS CONDITIONAL SENTENCE which is assumed to be true from the author's perspective or for his literary purposes.

▣ "God does raise the dead" This phrase speaks of the Jewish hope of a general resurrection (see Job 14:14-15; 19:25-27; Isa. 25:8; 26:19; Dan. 12:2-3; see Special Topic: Pharisees), but Paul had Christ's resurrection specifically in mind (cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-28). These Sadducean accusers would be getting very nervous at this point (cf. Acts 23:1-10).

Special Topic: Resurrection

÷ACTS 26:9-11

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: ACTS 26:9-11
 9"So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them. 11And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities."

26:9 Paul (egō, "I" and emautō, "myself") confesses his misdirected religious enthusiasm, which he now realizes was not the will of God (cf. 1 Tim. 1:13). He thought that by persecuting the followers of Jesus he was serving God and pleasing God. Paul's world and worldview totally changed on the Damascus road (cf. Acts 9).

▣ "the name" This Semitic idiom means "ther person of" (cf. Acts 3:6,16). This is no magic formula, but a personal relationship!

Special Topic: The Name of the Lord

▣ "Jesus of Nazareth" See Special Topic: Jesus the Nazarene

26:10 "the saints" Literally this is "the holy ones." Paul knew now exactly whom he had persecuted and killed, God's people! What a shock, sorrow, and enlightenment Paul's Damascus vision must have been, a total reorientation of thought and life!

For "saints" see Special Topic: Saints

▣ "having received authority" Paul was the "official" persecutor for the Sanhedrin.

▣ "when they were being put to death" This shows the intensity of the persecution. The "Way" was not a minor issue; it was a life-and-death issue and it still is!

▣ "cast my vote against them" This is the technical word in Greek for an official vote either in the Sanhedrin or a local synagogue. But because no local synagogue could/would vote on death issues, it was probably the Sanhedrin. If it was in the Sanhedrin, then Paul had to have been married. The term originally meant "a pebble," which was used to cast a vote—either a black one or a white one (cf. Rev. 2:17)

26:11 "tried to force" This is an IMPERFECT TENSE of a Greek term that means to force or compel (cf. Acts 28:19), but here it is used in the sense of tried. It refers to a repeated action in past time.

▣ "to blaspheme" Saul attempted to force them to publicly affirm their faith in Jesus as the Messiah and then condemn them. In later persecutions, believers were forced to reject faith in Christ, but this context is a different cultural situation.

NASB   "being furiously enraged"
NKJV   "being exceedingly enraged"
NRSV   "I was so furiously enraged"
TEV   "I was so furious"
NJB   "my fury against them was so extreme"
Peshitta   "being exceedingly mad"

This is a very intense ADVERB ("much more") and PARTICIPLE (PRESENT MIDDLE [deponent]). Festus uses the same root for Paul (i.e., rave in Acts 26:24)

÷ACTS 26:12-18

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: ACTS 26:12-18
 12"While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, 13at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me. 14And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' 15And I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16'But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; 17rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, 18to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.'"

26:12 Luke records Paul's personal testimony three times in Acts, 9:1-31; 22:3-21, and here. God's mercy and election towards Saul are so obvious. If God in Christ can forgive and use this man, He can forgive and use anyone!

26:13 See full note in Acts 9:3.

The fact that there is variation in details in all three places where Paul shares his conversion speaks to the accuracy of Luke's recording of Paul's legal defenses (and, thereby, also the sermons) in Acts!

26:14 See full note at Acts 9:4.

Frank Stagg, New Testament Theology, has a great paragraph on the vital connection between Jesus and His church.

"The most important fact about judgment is that we are judged in relation to Christ. In turn, this is a judgment in relation to his people. Our true relationship to him is reflected in our relationship to his people. To serve them is to serve him and to neglect them is to neglect him (Matt. 25:31-46). Never does the New Testament allow one to divorce his relationship to Christ from that to other people. To persecute them is to persecute him (Acts 9:1-2,4-5; 22:4,7-8; 26:10-11,14-15). To sin against the brethren is to sin against Christ (1 Cor. 8:12). Though we are not saved by our works, we are judged by them; for they reflect our true relationship to Christ and his grace. Judgment is merciful toward them that accept judgment, and judgment is merciful toward them who are merciful (Matt. 5:7)" (p. 333).

▣ "Hebrew dialect" In Paul's three personal testimonies in Acts, this is the only one in which the detail of Jesus speaking Aramaic is mentioned. See full note at Acts 22:2.

▣ "Saul, Saul" This last half of Acts 26:14 and the last part of Acts 26:15, as well as Acts 26:16-18, are a quote from Jesus to Paul on the Damascus road.

▣ "It is hard for you to kick against the goads" This phrase is unique to this context, possibly because it was a Greek/Latin proverb, not Jewish. Paul always knew to what audience he was speaking and how to communicate to them! This is referring to

  1. a pointed stick used by those who directed oxen to pull carts and plows
  2. projections on the front of the cart or wagon to keep the animals from kicking backward

This proverb was used to denote the human futility of resisting divine initiatives.

26:15 See complete note at Acts 9:5.

▣ "Jesus whom you are persecuting" This shows the close connection between Jesus and His church, (cf. Matt. 10:40; 25:40,45). To hurt them is to hurt Him!

26:16 "'But get up and stand on your feet'" These are both AORIST ACTIVE IMPERATIVES. This sounds very familiar to the prophetic call of Jeremiah 1:7-8 and Ezekiel 2:1,3.

▣ "'for this purpose I have appeared to you'" God had a specific assignment for Paul. Paul's conversion and call are not typical, but extraordinary! God's mercy is powerfully demonstrated as well as God's election for Kingdom service and kingdom growth.

▣ "I have appeared to you. . .I will appear to you" These are both forms of horaō. The first is AORIST PASSIVE INDICATIVE and the second is FUTURE PASSIVE INDICATIVE. In a sense Jesus is promising Paul future personal encounters. Paul had several divine visions during his ministry (cf. Acts 18:9-10; 22:17-21; 23:11; 27:23-24). Paul also mentions a training period in Arabia in which he was taught by Jesus (cf. Gal. 1:12,17,18).

▣ "to appoint" This is literally "to take into the hand." It was an idiom of destiny (cf. Acts 22:14; 26:16).

▣ "a minister and a witness" The first term literally referred to an "under-rower" on a ship. It came to be used idiomatically for a servant.

From the second term, martus, we get the English term "martyr." It had a double meaning:

  1. a witness (cf. Luke 11:48; 24:48; Acts 1:8,22; 5:32; 10:39,41; 22:15)
  2. a martyr (cf. Acts 22:20)

Both connotations were the personal experience of most of the Apostles and many, many believers throughout the ages!

26:17 "rescuing you" This is a PRESENT MIDDLE PARTICIPLE. In the MIDDLE VOICE this word usually means to select or choose. Normally it is translated "rescue or deliver" (cf. Acts 7:10,34; 12:11; 23:27). God's providential care is evident here. Paul received several of these visions during his ministry in order to encourage him. This possibly alludes to the Septuagint's reading of Isa. 48:10 or possibly Jer. 1:7-8,19.

▣ "from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles" Paul will suffer opposition from both groups (cf. 2 Cor. 11:23-27).

▣ "to whom I am sending you" The "I" is emphatic (egō) here as in Acts 26:15. The VERB is apostellō (PRESENT ACTIVE INDICATIVE), from which we get the term "Apostle." As the Father sent Jesus, so Jesus sends His witnesses, apostles (cf. John 20:21).

26:18 "to open. . .turn" These are both AORIST INFINITIVES This may be an allusion to Isa. 42:7. The Messiah will open blind eyes as a metaphor for opening spiritual eyes (cf. John 9). Gospel knowledge and understanding must precede the call to a volitional response (repentance and faith). Satan tries to close our minds and hearts (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4) and the Spirit tries to open them (cf. John 6:44,65; 16:8-11).

▣ "from darkness. . .from the dominion of Satan" Notice the parallelism. "Dominion" is the Greek term exousia, usually translated authority or power (cf. NKJV, NRSV, TEV; see Special Topic: Authority). The world is under the influence of personal evil (cf. Eph. 2:2; 4:14; 6:10-18; 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:12-13; see Special Topic: Personal Evil).

In the OT, particularly the prophecies of Isaiah, the Messiah was to bring sight to the blind. It was both a physical prediction and also metaphorical for truth (cf. Isa. 29:18; 32:3; 35:5; 42:7,16).

▣ "to light. . .to God" Notice the parallelism. Ancient humans feared darkness. It became a metaphor for evil. Light, on the other hand, became a metaphor for truth, healing, and purity. A good parallel passage on the light of the gospel is John 3:17-21.

▣ "that they may receive" The VERBAL in this phrase is another AORIST INFINITIVE. There is no "may" in the Greek text (cf. TEV, NJB). The only condition in this context is "by faith in Me" clause, which is put last in the Greek sentence for emphasis. All of God's blessings are contingent on a faith response (i.e., receive, cf. John 1:12) to His grace (cf. Eph. 2:8-9). This is the NT counterpoint of conditional covenants in the OT.

▣ "forgiveness of sins" Luke uses this term (aphesis) often.

  1. In Luke 4:18 it is used in an OT quote from Isa. 61:1, where it means release, which reflects the LXX usage of Exod. 18:2 and Lev. 16:26.
  2. In Luke 1:77; 3:3; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 5:31; 10:43; 13:38; 26:18, it means "the removal of the guilt of sin," which reflects the LXX usage of Deut. 15:3, where it is used of the cancellation of a debt.

Luke's usage may reflect the New Covenant promise of Jer. 31:34.

▣ "and an inheritance" This is the Greek term klēros, which denotes the casting of lots (cf. Lev. 16:8; Jonah 1:7; Acts 1:26) to determine an inheritance, as in Gen. 48:6; Exod. 6:8; and Jos. 13:7-8. In the OT the Levites did not have a land inheritance, only the 48 Levitical cities (cf. Deut. 10:9; 12:12), but the Lord Himself was their inheritance (cf. Num. 18:20). Now in the NT all believers are priests (cf. 1 Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6). The Lord (YHWH) is our inheritance; we are His children (cf. Rom. 8:15-17).

Special Topic: Believers' Inheritance

▣ "those who have been sanctified" This is a PERFECT PASSIVE PARTICIPLE. Believers (faithers) have been and continue to be sanctified by faith in Christ (cf. Acts 20:21). Neither Satan nor the demonic can take this away (cf. Rom. 8:31-39).

Special Topic: Sanctification

÷ACTS 26:19-23

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: ACTS 26:19-23
 19"So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. 21"For this reason some Jews seized me in the temple and tried to put me to death. 22"So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; 23that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles."

26:19 "So, King Agrippa" See note at Acts 25:13, Introduction. Paul was trying to reach this man for the gospel (cf. Acts 26:26-29).

▣ "I did not prove disobedient" The Greek term peithō is from the name of the goddess of persuasion. In this context it has the ALPHA PRIVATIVE, which negates it, thereby denoting "disobedience" (cf. Luke 1:17; Rom. 1:30; 2 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:16; 3:3). So, in a sense, this was a forceful way in Koine Greek to negate something, but in this context, it is a literary way of affirming Paul's obedience!

▣ "heavenly vision" This refers to Paul's Damascus road encounter with the resurrected, glorified Christ.

26:20 "Damascus. . .Jerusalem" See Acts 9:19-25,27 for Paul's ministry in Damascus; 9:26-30 for Paul's ministry in Jerusalem and possibly 9:31 for Paul's ministry in Judea.

▣ "repent and turn to God" Paul's message (cf. Acts 20:21) was the same as

  1. John the Baptist's (cf. Matt. 3:1-12; Mark 1:4-8)
  2. Jesus' early message (cf. Mark. 1:15)
  3. Peter (cf. Acts 3:16,19)

The Greek term repent means a change of mind. The Hebrew word means a change of action. Both are involved in true repentance. The two New Covenant requirements (which are also old Covenant requirements) for salvation are repentance (turning from self and sin) and faith (turning to God in Christ).

Special Topic: Repentance (NT)

Special Topic: Repentance (OT)

▣ "performing deeds appropriate to repentance" The believer's lifestyle (PRESENT ACTIVE PARTICIPLE) confirms his/her initial faith commitment (cf. Matt. 3:8; Luke 3:8; Eph. 2:8-10, James and 1 John). God wants a people who reflect His character. Believers are called to Christlikeness (cf. Rom. 8:28-29; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 1:4; 2:10). The gospel is

  1. a person to welcome
  2. truth about that person to believe
  3. a life like that person's to live

26:21 It was not Paul's theological views, but his preaching to and inclusion of "the Gentiles" (cf. Acts 26:20) that caused the riot in the Temple.

▣ "tried to put me to death" This is an IMPERFECT MIDDLE (deponent) INDICATIVE (tried again and again) with an AORIST MIDDLE INFINITIVE (to kill). The Jews (cf. Acts 9:24) from Asia (cf. Acts 20:3,19; 21:27,30) tried to kill Paul several times.

26:22 "testifying both to small and great" This is an inclusive Semitic idiom. It is Paul's affirmation (like Peter's, cf. Acts 10:38) that he, like God, is not respecter of persons (cf. Deut. 10:17; 2 Chr. 19:7, see fuller note at Acts 10:34). He preaches to all humans.

▣ "stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said" Paul is asserting that his message and audience (i.e., Gentiles) are not an innovation, but OT prophecy. He is simply following OT guidelines, promises and truths.

Special Topic: Hebrew Canon

26:23 Notice that Paul's message consisted of three parts:

  1. the Messiah suffered for human forgiveness
  2. the Messiah's resurrection was first fruits of all believers' resurrection
  3. this Good News was for Jews and Gentiles

These three theological aspects must be combined with verse 20 which shows how we personally receive Christ (repentance, turning from self and sin; faith, turning to God in Christ).

▣ "that the Christ was to suffer" For the basic theological points of the Apostolic sermons in Acts, see Special Topic: Kerygma. It was the stumbling block for the Jews (cf. 1 Cor. 1:23), but it was an OT prediction (cf. Gen. 3:15; Psalm 22; Isaiah 53). This same truth is found in Luke 24:7,26,44-47.

The Greek "the Christ" reflects the Hebrew title "the Messiah." Paul asserts that Jesus, who was crucified, was truly the Christ, the Promised One, the Anointed One (cf. Acts 2:36; 3:6,18,20; 4:10,26; 13:33; 17:3; 26:23).

Special Topic: A Suffering Messiah

Special Topic: Messiah

▣ "that by reason of His resurrection from the dead" Because of this text, and Rom. 1:4, there developed an early heresy called "adoptionism," which asserted that the human Jesus was rewarded for a good life by being raised from the dead. However, this aberrant Christology ignored all the texts about His pre-existence, such as John 1:1; Phi. 2:6-11; Col. 1:15-17; and Heb. 1:2-3. Jesus has always existed; He has always been divine; He was incarnated in time.

Special Topic: Adoptionism

▣ "the light" Light is an ancient metaphor of truth and purity (cf. Acts 26:18; Isa. 9:2; 42:6-7).

▣ "to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles" There is only one gospel for both groups (cf. Eph. 2:11-3:13). This was the mystery that had been hidden from the ages, but is now fully revealed in Christ. All humans are made in the image of the one creator God (cf. Gen. 1:26-27). Genesis 3:15 promises that God will provide salvation for fallen humanity. Isaiah affirms the universality of the Messiah (e.g., Isa. 2:2-4; 42:4,6,10-12; 45:20-25; 49:6; 51:4; 52:10; 60:1-3; and also Mic. 5:4-5).

Special Topic: YHWH's Eternal Redemptive Plan

÷ACTS 26:24-29

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: ACTS 26:24-29
 24While Paul was saying this in his defense, Festus said in a loud voice, "Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad." 25But Paul said, "I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I utter words of sober truth. 26For the king knows about these matters, and I speak to him also with confidence, since I am persuaded that none of these things escape his notice; for this has not been done in a corner. 27King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know that you do." 28Agrippa replied to Paul, "In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian." 29And Paul said, "I would wish to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains."

26:24 "Festus said in a loud voice" Paul's message was unbelievable to him. His worldview and culture, education, and position biased his ability to understand.

▣ "Your great learning is driving you mad" In a roundabout way this shows the depth, clarity, and persuasiveness of Paul's defense.

26:25 "of sober truth" The Greek term sōphrosunē comes from two Greek words, "sound" and "mind." They mean a balanced approach to life and thinking. It is the antonym of "out of your mind" and "mad" (cf. Acts 26:24).

▣ "the truth" See Special Topic: "Truth" in Paul's Writings

26:26-28 "the king knows about these matters" There has been much discussion about these verses. Apparently Paul wanted to use Agrippa II to confirm his testimony and if possible bring him to acceptance of its truth. Verse 28 could be translated, "Do you want me to be a Christian witness?"

26:26 "I speak to him also with confidence" Luke often uses this term in Acts, it is always connected with Paul (cf. Acts 9:27,28; 13:46; 14:3; 18:26; 19:8). It is usually translated "speaking with boldness" (cf. 1 Thess. 2:2). This is one of the manifestations of being Spirit-filled. It was the object of Paul's prayer request in Eph. 6:20. Gospel proclamation with boldness is the Spirit's goal for every believer.

Special Topic: Boldness

▣ "for this has not been done in a corner" Peter made this same assertion again and again to his first hearers in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 2:22,33). The facts of the gospel were verifiable and historical.

26:27 Paul knew that Agrippa was knowledgeable of the OT. Paul is claiming that his gospel message was clearly discernable from OT Scriptures. It was not a "new" or "innovative" message! It was fulfilled prophecy.

26:28
NASB  "In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian"
NKJV  "You almost persuade me to become a Christian"
NRSV  "Are you so quickly persuading me to become a Christian"
TEV  "In this short time do you think you will make me a Christian"
NJB, REB  "A little more, and your arguments would make a Christian of me"
Peshitta  "With little effort you almost persuade me to become a Christian"

There is a lexical option about how to understand oligō (meaning small or little), "in a short time" (NASB, NRSV, TEV), or "with little effort" (NKJV, NJB). This same confusion is also present in Acts 26:29.

There is also a textual variant related to this phrase: "to do" or "to make" (poieō) in the manuscripts P74, א, A (UBS4 gives it an "A" rating), or "to become" in MS E and the Vulgate and Peshitta translations.

The meaning in the larger context is obvious. Paul wanted to present the gospel in such a way that those who knew and affirmed the OT (Agrippa) would be brought under conviction or at the least, affirm the relevance of these OT prophecies.

▣ "Christian" The people of "the Way" (followers of Christ) were first called Christians at Antioch of Syria (cf. Acts 11:26). The only other place this name appears in Acts is on the lips of Agrippa II, which means the name had become widely known.

26:29 "I would wish to God" Verse 29 is a partial FOURTH CLASS CONDITIONAL SENTENCE (an with the OPTATIVE MOOD), which expresses a desire that might remotely come to reality. It is usually a prayer or wish. Paul wished all of his hearers, Roman and Jewish, would come to faith in Christ like himself.

÷ACTS 26:30-32

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: ACTS 26:30-32
 30The king stood up and the governor and Bernice, and those who were sitting with them, 31and when they had gone aside, they began talking to one another, saying, "This man is not doing anything worthy of death or imprisonment." 32And Agrippa said to Festus, "This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar."

26:30 How did Luke get this information? It was a private conversation between governmental leaders (and their families).

  1. a servant have heard this and passed it on to Luke
  2. Luke assumes what they said by subsequent statements
  3. Luke uses this opportunity to reinforce his literary purpose of showing that neither Paul or Christianity is a threat to Rome

26:31-32 "This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar" This shows one of Luke's major purposes in writing Acts, which was to show that Christianity was not treasonous to Rome. This is a SECOND CLASS CONDITIONAL SENTENCE which makes a false assertion to accentuate a truth. This man might have been set free (which he was not) if he had not appealed to Caesar (which he did).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. How is this defense different from the defense before Festus and Felix?
  2. How does Paul's personal testimony fit into his overall defense?
  3. Why was a suffering Messiah so alien to the Jews?
  4. Why is verse 28 so difficult to interpret?
  5. How does the discussion of Festus, Agrippa and Bernice (Acts 26:30-31) fit into Luke's overarching literary purpose in Acts?

 

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