Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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ACTS - Chapter 26

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Acts 26

Supplemental Commentary:

II.  THE CHURCH IN ASIA MINOR AND EUROPE:
THE MISSIONARY JOURNEYS OF ST. PAUL  13, 1 -- 28, 31 (continued)

4.  Imprisonment in Palestine  21, 17 -- 26, 32 (continued)

26, 1-23:  Paul's Discourse.  St. Paul reviewed the main facts of his life, conversion, and mission to the Gentiles.  He showed that his doctrine was in conformity with the prophets and Moses who had announced that Christ was to die, rise again, and bring light to Jews and Gentiles.  With no understanding of such matters Festus soon broke in with the exclamation that the Apostle must be insane from too much study.  But St. Paul was speaking mainly to Agrippa and he then appealed to him to support his statements by asking him directly whether he did not believe in the prophets.  The king evaded the question with the ironical remark that St. Paul had almost persuaded him to become a Christian.  His words might also have the force of "Dost thou think thou canst so easily make a Christian of me?"  Then Agrippa closed the interview, no doubt fearing other embarrassing questions, since he was a renegade to the Jewish religion.  As Festus had no jurisdiction after the appeal to Caesar, it was easy for the king to suggest politely that St. Paul might have been released if he had not appealed.

4 f.  Till about his fifteenth year St. Paul lived at Tarsus and then went to Jerusalem to study the Law in the School of Gamaliel (22, 3).  His earlier years are perhaps covered in the phrase among my own nation, referring to the Jews of the Diaspora as distinguished from those of Jerusalem.  Sect: as in 5, 17, a party having its own proper tenets, but still in union with the main body.    8.  Agrippa was deeply imbued with pagan ideas and probably had given up all belief in a resurrection of the dead.  As always, the fact of Christ's resurrection is the central argument.    9-11.  His zeal in persecuting showed how hard it would be to convert him.    16-18.  For the sake of brevity he attributed directly to our Lord the message he had received from His through Ananias, or having received the message at the time of the vision, he heard it again from Ananias.    21.  Particularly because he put the Gentiles on the same plane as the Jews, teaching that for all salvation came through faith in Jesus.


Confraternity Bible:

Paul's Discourse  1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Thou art permitted to speak for thyself."  Then Paul stretched forth his hand, and began his defense.

2 "I think myself fortunate, King Agrippa, that I am to defend myself today before thee against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 especially as thou art well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies; I beg thee therefore to listen to me with patience.

4 "My life, then, from my youth up, the early part of which was spent among my own nation and at Jerusalem, all the Jews know; 5 for they have long known me, if only they are willing to give evidence, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.  6 And now for the hope in the promise made by God to our fathers I am standing trial; 7 to which promise our twelve tribes hope to attain as they worship night and day; and it is about this hope, O king, that I am accused by the Jews.  8 Why is it deemed incredible with you if God does raise the dead?

9 "And I then thought it my duty to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  10 And this I did in Jerusalem; and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests to do so; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them; 11 and oftentimes in all the synagogues I punished them and tried to force them to blaspheme; and in my extreme rage against them I even pursued them to foreign cities.

12 "But while I was journeying on this business to Damascus with authority and permission from the chief priests, 13 at midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven brighter than the sunshine round about me and my companions.  14* We fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Hebrew, 'Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me?  It is hard for thee to kick against the goad.'  15 And I said, 'Who art thou, Lord?'  And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus, whom thou art persecuting.  16 But rise and stand upon thy feet; for I have appeared to thee for this purpose, to appoint thee to be a minister and a witness to what thou hast seen, and to the visions thou shalt have of me; 17 delivering thee from the people and from the nations, to whom I am now sending thee, 18 to open their eyes 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 sanctified by faith in me."

19 "Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision; 20 but first to the people of Damascus and Jerusalem, and then all over Judea and to the Gentiles, I set about declaring that they should repent and turn to God, doing works befitting their repentance.  21 This is why the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.  22 But aided to this day by the help of God, I stand here to testify to both high and low, saying nothing beyond what the Prophets and Moses said would come to  pass: 23 that Christ was to suffer, that he first by his resurrection from the dead was to proclaim light to the people and to the Gentiles."

The Result  24 While he was saying this in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, "Paul, thou art mad; thy great learning is driving thee to madness."  25 "I am not mad, excellent Festus," said Paul, "but I speak words of sober truth.  26 For the king knows about these things and to him I also speak without hesitation.  For I am sure that none of these things escaped him; for none of them happened in a corner.  27 Dost thou believe the prophets, King Agrippa?  I know that thou dost."  28* But Agrippa said to Paul, "In a short while thou wouldst persuade me to become a Christian."  29 And Paul answered, "I would to God that, whether it be long or short, not only thou but also all who hear me today might become such as I am, except for these chains."  30 Then the king arose and the governor and Bernice, and those who had sat with them; 31 and after withdrawing they kept talking the matter over together, saying, "This man has done nothing to deserve death or imprisonment."  32 And Agrippa said to Festus, "This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed to Caesar."
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*

14: It is hard, etc.: a proverb; oxen were driven by goads, and kicking only made the goading more painful.  The grace of God was prodding St. Paul in a similar way.

28: Agrippa speaks ironically.  The Greek can also mean, "In a short time thou believest thou hast made me a Christian"; or, "Thou thinkest it a small matter to make me a Christian."