Acts Chapter 26: Paul Before Agrippa

Nov 5th, 2009 | By | Category: Acts, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Acts Chapter 26: Paul Before Agrippa

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.

As part of his defense, Paul said he was a follower of the Old Testament, and he referred to the Abrahamic promise. Moreover, he was a religionist in the strictest sense of the word.

“Instantly” in verse 7 means “constantly.”

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

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.

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;

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.

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.

Paul gave King Agrippa a summary of his life story, calling attention to the fact that the Jews did not talk of his past because he had been so faithful and zealous for their religion prior to his conversion.

Q: Why did Jesus say to Paul, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks”?

A: Certain unrecorded providences must have occurred to give Paul the opportunity to have his eyes opened about Jesus’ being the Messiah and the wrong course he was pursuing. When Paul failed to heed the providences, God slapped him down, as it were, on the way to Damascus so that he would see the light. No doubt he had persecuted many without granting favorable and just representation. Now Paul was telling King Agrippa how his zeal for God was properly directed by the conversion experience. Paul was open and honest in his expressions, unburdening his heart. At the same time, he had to cover his life story in very few words and under pressure, for the Romans did not want a long oration. Paul showed that once he thought as the Jews did, but now he saw differently and was being persecuted for a belief in God. And he was telling people to repent and turn their hearts to God. “What is so wicked about trying to convert people to God?” he reasoned.

The light that shone was brighter than the sun at noontime. In other words, the sun was shining that day, and all of a sudden a light appeared that was brighter than the sun. It was probably something like a laser beam, which is a concentration of light along parallel lines, whereas light normally has a tendency to diffuse. When angels appeared to Daniel as “lightning,” or a bright shining, he fell down. A force exists with spirit beings unless they purposely play it low-key and appear as a human being.

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.

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.

Festus interrupted Paul’s defense. Paul, who would have been looking at King Agrippa in making his defense, replied to Festus and went right on.

Comment: Paul took the words of Festus in stride, gave his reply, was not intimidated, and went right on. He had no fear of man.

Reply: Paul not only did not break his trend of thinking but also was able to weave in a witness concerning Christ as the climax to his defense. First, he gave a history of his beliefs and experiences, and then he led up to his faith in Jesus of Nazareth. King Agrippa would have known about Jesus, for the Roman rulers had their spies and representatives, especially when crowds formed.

Paul’s saying, “This thing was not done in a corner,” reminds us of Jesus’ remark, “I spake openly to the world; … in secret have I said nothing” (John 18:20).

Comment: Paul used the address “most noble Festus.”

Reply: Yes, it was proper for Paul to follow decorum. He was not effusive with flattery like Tertullus, but he did show respect for the office.

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.

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:

King Agrippa said to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” He was getting a little touchy. Then he “rose up,” giving a tacit signal, as it were, and the others followed suit, thus terminating Paul’s defense. King Agrippa did not want to be persuaded any further. However, he was forming opinions and thinking about the case and the lack of witnesses. He saw the falseness of the charge against Paul and realized he should not have been imprisoned for such a length of time.

Comment: It is interesting that Paul said to King Agrippa, “I know that thou believest.” The king must have had some understanding.

Reply: Yes, something must have happened in the past that evidenced his faith. Also, his wife was a Jewess, and he had jurisdiction over Israel.

Comment: Paul could probably tell from facial expressions that the king believed.

Reply: The king may even have gently nodded his head.

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.

Felix had put Paul under house arrest, hoping to get a bribe, but the bribe was not forthcoming. Festus could have released Paul for lack of evidence but did not do so. Now fact gathering was again attempted, and evidence was lacking. Paul was playing into the hands of providence, which indicated he was to go to Rome. While under prison house arrest, he had had two to three years to analyze the circumstance and what God’s will was for him. In determining providence and the meaning of the experience, he realized the Lord wanted him to go to Rome, and he knew the surest way to get free passage was to appeal his case to Caesar and go as a prisoner.

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