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Bible Commentaries
Acts 26

Godbey's Commentary on the New TestamentGodbey's NT Commentary

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Introduction

Agrippa having joyfully acquiesced in the importunity of Festus to help him out of his dilemma, proposes to become the umpire in person. As now it is no longer pertinent that they try him for his life, that prerogative having gone out of their hands by virtue of his appeal to Caesar, and Agrippa knows well, being an expert in all the problems and institutions of the Jewish religion, that it is nonsensical to send the emperor any of these allegations in reference to the Jews’ religion, as he will only throw them aside and discount Festus for sending them, there is nothing left for him to do but turn Paul loose to speak ad libitum. Of course, Paul just turns loose, preaching Jesus and the resurrection with all his might, and, of course, amid all telling his experience of his miraculous conversion, and commission by the risen and glorified Savior to go and preach the gospel to the Gentile world.

Verses 1-32

PAUL’S TRIAL BEFORE KING AGRIPPA.

(Acts 25:13 to Acts 26:32 )

This, by far the greatest prosecution of all, had no reference to the immediate destiny of Paul, i. e., they are no longer trying for his life, as that matter has gone out of their hands, transferred to the emperor the moment Festus and his court admitted Paul’s appeal. But having admitted the appeal, Festus finds himself in a terrible dilemma, apparently unanticipated, i. e., having admitted the appeal, and put himself in a position where he is forced by law to send Paul to Rome to be tried by the emperor, and, at the same time, having not a solitary allegation recognizable in Roman law to send along with he criminal. Hence Festus sees that he has exposed himself to criticism and burlesque, probably to his own serious official detriment. Will not the emperor say, “Is not this pro-consul of Judea green as a gourd, to send to me a prisoner for trial, and not a solitary criminal charge against him”? Hence we are not astonished at the solicitude of Festus and his serious dilemma in the matter. When King Agrippa, a prince of the celebrated Herodian family, accompanied by his queen, Bernice, come from Chalcis [their dominion, under the Roman emperor, the title of king being a mere courtesy, because lie was a member of the Herodian dynasty, though now only a Roman pro-consul], come down to Caesarea to pay Festus a royal visit, the latter, who is now much exercised over his dilemma in Paul’s case, relates the whole matter to Agrippa, begging him, if possible, to help him out of the entanglement. In all this we are gratified with the high-toned integrity of Festus, in contradistinction to the condescending strategy and turpitude of his official predecessor, the unfortunate Felix.

Describing to King Agrippa the trial of Paul at his tribunal, in which he had appealed to Caesar, lie very beautifully alludes to the transparent rascality of the high priest and his confederates:

Verse 16

16. “.....For unto this I have appeared unto thee, to make thee a minister and a martyr of the things which you see, and of which I shall appear unto thee”; i. e., Jesus continued to reveal His wonderful truth to Paul, inspiring him to write more of the same than any other man.

Verse 17

17. “Delivering thee from the people and from the Gentiles, to whom now I send the,

Verse 18

18. “To open their eyes.” The devil knocked the eyes out of humanity in the Fall. Hence all alike, good and bad, walk in the devil’s rayless midnight till the resurrection power gives sight to the blind to open their eyes. “To turn them from darkness into light.” We are not only in blackest darkness, but we ourselves are darkness throughout so long as we remain in the black regions of Satan’s rayless kingdom. Regeneration takes us out of darkness into the light of God’s kingdom. Then sanctification takes all the darkness out of us, so filling us with light as to make us light itself throughout, having no darkness. “From the dominion of Satan to God.” Regardless of all our moral goodness and church loyalty, we are in the devil’s merciless grip till the Omnipotent Jesus delivers us. “That they may receive remission of sins.” This is our first great deliverance. When the light comes, conviction interpenetrates, and we cry importunately to God for deliverance; in utter desperation fully recognizing our meetness only for hell fire, we cast ourselves on the mercy of God in Christ. Then for Christ’s sake alone He cancels all our sins from heaven’s chancery, removing our guilt, counting us righteous in Christ’s stead. “And inheritance among them who have been sanctified by faith, which is in me, and have it yet better than ever.” We have here the perfect tense of hagiadzoo, “sanctify,” which in Greek has more than double the force of the English, i. e., meaning that we have been sanctified in past time and have it yet better than ever. Oh, the riches of redeeming grace and sanctifying power! And how do we get it? “Not by works” (Ephesians 2:8); not by growth, death, nor purgatory, but as we see here so clearly and unmistakably revealed in Paul’s commission, it is by faith, and nothing but faith, having reached believing ground by radical and complete consecration. Here Paul becomes wonderfully impetuous, preaching to two kings and queens, as well as a great audience.

Verse 22

22. “Therefore having received help from God, I stand unto this day, testifying both to small and great, saying nothing else than those things which the prophets and Moses said would come to pass,

Verse 23

23. “If Christ should suffer, if he should first rise from the dead, he is about to proclaim light to the people,” i. e., the Jews and the Gentiles. Paul sweeps away all defalcation from King Agrippa as a member of the Jewish Church, because he proves everything appertaining to Christ by Moses and the prophets, meanwhile his application to the Gentiles, i. e., not only Festus, but all the Roman world, is equally sweeping and conclusive. At this moment Festus breaks down, unable longer to restrain his impulses and hold his peace,

Verse 24

24. But shouts uproariously, “Paul, thou art beside thyself; many writings have turned thee into insanity,” seeing that Paul is a man of greatest learning, a real expert not only in the rabbinical lore of all bygone ages, but thoroughly posted in all the learning of the Gentiles. Such is the power of his oratory, the irresistible logic of his arguments and the irrefutable force of his burning pathos, that Festus leaps to the conclusion that immense study has overwrought his brain and turned him into insanity, thus finding a nigh way to account for all the troubles in the case.

Verse 25

25. “But,” says he, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and soberness.” Well could Paul address him “most noble Festus.” His deportment in the Pauline trial, appeal and transportation is irreproachable. Though heathen, he was certainly a man having sterling qualities of head and heart. Paul now addresses King Agrippa in person, as he is his brother in the Jewish church; he is sanguinely hopeful, by proving to him clearly by Moses and the prophets that Jesus is the Christ, of converting him to Christianity.

Verse 27

27. “O King Agrippa, dost thou believe the prophets? I know that thou believest them.” Paul has cornered Agrippa, having a double grip on him because he is a Jew. Having proved so conclusively and irresistibly the Christhood of Jesus by all of the prophets, he thus precipitates the confession of Agrippa, constraining the king to break silence and put a quietus to the over-mastering vehemence and foregone conclusion of Paul, that because he does believe Moses and the prophets, by whom Paul has so powerfully and unanswerably proven the Christhood of Jesus, therefore he is constrained to confess the great salient facts of the gospel.

Verse 28

28. Agrippa said to Paul, “You persuade yourself with little persuasion that you make me a Christian.” The E. V. misses this translation. See R. V.

Agrippa stoutly resisted the preaching of Paul, grieving the Holy Spirit, rejecting the unanswerable Scriptural arguments of Paul, and showing no evidence of conviction. To his cheerless and hopeless negative answer, Paul simply responds in an ejaculatory prayer.

Verse 29

29. “I would to God that not only you but all those who hear me this day, both with little and much persuasion, were such as I am except these bonds.” He prayed for their greatest possible good, that they might have the great salvation which he enjoyed, with none of his temporal afflictions.

This verse is Paul’s benediction on the adjourning multitude, as King Agrippa had wound up the meeting by his positive negative answer to Paul’s mighty appeals to accept Jesus as the Christ.

Verses 31-32

31, 32. After they have returned to the palace they talk over the matter, Agrippa giving his verdict unequivocally decisive of Paul’s utter innocence, assuring Festus that there was no reason for not releasing him on the spot except his appeal to Caesar. While King Agrippa was a stalwart Jew, loyal to the fallen church, and in no way disposed to forsake the multitude, incur the ban of popular churchism and fall in with a few despised Nazarenes, he here shows up very beautifully the integrity of a civil officer, contrasting conspicuously with the falsifications, hypocrisy and rascality manifested by the high-priest and the leading ministers of the Jewish church, revealing the sad fact that when preachers are blindly manipulated by the devil, they are decidedly more unjust, cruel and bloodthirsty than civil rulers, though also in the hands of Satan. Ecclesiastical law, hen out of harmony with the Bible, and manipulated by the devil through a fallen clergy, is cruel as the grave and merciless as hell. Wisely did Paul appeal from it to Caesar. While Agrippa manifested no sympathy with Paul’s religion, unlike those blood- hounds, i. e., the leading preachers of the fallen church, clamorous for innocent blood, he pronounced an unequivocal verdict of innocence in behalf of Paul.

Bibliographical Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Acts 26". "Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ges/acts-26.html.
 
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