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Bible Commentaries

Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Acts 26

Verse 1

Acts 26:1 . Ἐπιτρέπεται , It is permitted ) Elegantly the impersonal form is used, permission is granted to thee , by Festus and by Agrippa. Agrippa was desiring to hear him. ὑπὲρ , for ) not merely concerning thyself. [This no doubt is what Paul has in hand; but in such a way as that he rather speaks concerning Christ . V. g.] ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα , having stretched forth his hand ) bound with a chain though it was. This gesture was appropriate both to the boldness of speech of Paul, and to the securing of his hearers’ attention.

Verse 2

Acts 26:2 . Περὶ , concerning ) Paul both refutes the charge of the Jews, and, under the impulse of faith, says more. This, the last extant speech of Paul, is fuller than the others, and worthy of his spiritual increase in attainments. ὑπὸ Ἰουδαίων ) He does not add the article [not “by the Jews,” but “by Jews”]: for it was not all the Jews universally who were accusing Paul. βασιλεῦ Ἀγρίππα , King Agrippa ) The address in the second person has great force, especially when it is Singular, and when the proper name is used: Acts 26:27 . ἥγημαι ἐμαυτὸν μακάριον , I count myself happy ) I congratulate myself on the fact.

Verse 3

Acts 26:3 . Γνώστην ὄντα σε ) Two accusatives, an Attic idiom: i.e . especially as thou art expert or acquainted with . See Heupel. de Dialectis, Can. 98, Raphel. from Xen. and Arrian. Γνώστης , is one who seeks and has acquaintance with. Festus was not one of this character: ch. Acts 25:20 . ἐθῶν , customs ) in matters of practice. ζητημάτων , questions ) in matters of theory. Festus had used this term in the absence of Paul: ch. Acts 25:19 . Accordingly Paul, by the Divine guidance, repeats and explains it.

Verse 4

Acts 26:4 . Μὲν οὖν ) Οὖν makes an addition to the discussion: μὲν , when δὲ does not follow, softens the language; Acts 26:9 . This narrative has in it great ἐνάργεια , distinctness . βίωσιν , my manner of life ) mode of action in life. τὴν ἐκ νεότητος , τὴν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς , which was from my youth, which was from the beginning ) that is, from the beginning of my youth. So ἄνωθεν , from the first , in the foll. verse.

Verse 5

Acts 26:5 . Προγινώσκοντες ) knowing me, before that I speak. ἐὰν θέλωσι , if they be willing ) But they were unwilling [to testify], because they were sensible that in the conversion of Paul, even in respect to his previous life, there is the most effectual argument for the truth of the Christian faith.

Verse 6

Acts 26:6 . Καὶ , and ) These things which are contained in Acts 26:6-8 , are spoken as it were in a parenthesis: that Paul may show that he has not thrown aside that very tenet, which the Pharisees rightly maintain, viz. concerning the resurrection of the dead, but that he really asserts and vindicates it. As to the connection of Acts 26:5 ; Acts 26:9 , to which the words μὲν οὖν are subservient, comp. ch. Acts 22:3-4 , “Zealous toward God, as ye all are this day: And I persecuted this way unto the death.” In fact it was Pharisaism that had prompted Paul to persecution. νῦν ) even still [though no longer a Pharisee in other respects]. ἐλπίδι , for the hope ) There is force contained in the repetition: hope ( ἐλοίζει ); for which hope’s sake ( περὶ ἧς ἐλπίδος ), Acts 26:7 . ἐπαγγελίας , of the promise ) The hope therefore is firmly established. ἔστηκα , I stand ) on this day. κρινόμενος , being put on my trial ) at this time.

Verse 7

Acts 26:7 . Εἰς ἣν , unto which) hope. τὸ δωδεκάφυλον the twelve tribes ) Even the Ten tribes had in considerable numbers (a good part of them) returned from the East, but they had passed from that διασπορὰ into the διασπορὰ , of which Jam 1:1 and 1Pe 1:1 speak. For the Ten tribes had not been in the first instance carried away into those localities which James and Peter, in the passages quoted, refer to (“Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, Bithynia”). All had the hope of the resurrection. καταντῆσαι , to attain ) A verb frequently used by Paul: Ephesians 4:13 , “Till we all come ( καταντήσωμεν ) to the unity of the faith;” Philippians 3:11 . The whole of our religion tends towards the future.

Verse 8

Acts 26:8 . Ἄπιστον , incredible ) The ancients called poetic fables incredible: See Chrysost. de Sacerd. § 226, 590: So Festus esteemed the resurrection an incredible thing: ch. Acts 25:19 . ὑμῖν , to you ) An Apostrophe [sudden turning of the address to others than those with whom he began], in respect of the Jews (for Agrippa was not a Jew: Acts 26:3 ; Acts 26:7 (“ our twelve tribes”), where the ἡμῶν forms an antithesis to the proselytes, especially those of them who were such as Agrippa was, according to my note on ch. Act 25:19 ); and boldness of speech, towards the hearers then present. He so replies to Festus, as if he had heard his speech: ch. Acts 25:19 .

Verse 9

Acts 26:9 . Ἔδοξα ἐμαυτῷ , I thought with myself, I seemed to myself bound) even above others. δεῖν , that I ought ) So great is the power of the conscience even when in error. πολλὰ ἐναντία , many things contrary ) not as others, who neither treat with respect, nor yet injure (Christians). These contrary things the language of Paul enumerates with a remarkable increase of force. πρᾶξαι ) ἐποίησα , presently. The words differ, as we observe elsewhere. [143]

[143] πράσσειν , agere ; ποιεῖν , facere . Πρᾶσσειν expresses the general state of the conduct and practice : Ποιεῖν , the particular acts . E. and T.

Verse 10

Acts 26:10 . Τῶν ἁγίων , of the saints ) So he terms the Christians, in a manner appropriate to the beginning of his speech, using a term transferred to them from the Jews. ἐγὼ , I ) Emphasis. τὴν ) The article signifies that Paul could not have done this without the power (the authority); and that the chief priests gave a general power (authority) to all who wished to persecute. κατήνεγκα ψῆφον ) A rare phrase. Paul added his vote , since he thought what was done altogether right.

Verse 11

Acts 26:11 . Συναγωνάς , synagogues ) of Jerusalem. ἠνάγκαζον βλασφημεῖν , I compelled them to blaspheme ) This was the saddest of all. Repent, ye enemies of the Gospel. If Franc. Spira, to whom force was applied, paid so dearly for his sin, what then will become of those who apply the force (exercise compulsion), and yet do not repent with Saul.

Verse 12

Acts 26:12 . Ἐπιτροπῆς , with the order, permission ) Paul was a commissary. Ἐπιτροπὴ , Commission : whence ἐπίτροπος , See Esther 9:14 , in the LXX.

Verse 13

Acts 26:13 . Εἶδον , I saw ) unexpectedly. βασιλεῦ , O King ) Most seasonably he fixes the word King at this point, where there is an Epitasis of (emphatic addition to) the language. ὑπὲρ , above ) The glory of Christ.

Verse 14

Acts 26:14 . Τῇ Ἑβραΐδι διαλέκτῳ , in the Hebrew tongue ) Paul himself, in this instance, did not speak in Hebrew. For in ch. Acts 22:7 , which narrates the same incident, he did not, when speaking in Hebrew, add this, in the Hebrew language . The Hebrew language was the language of Christ on earth and from heaven. σκληρόν σοι , it is hard for thee ) Lightfoot observes, it is a Hebrew adage.

Verse 15

Acts 26:15 . Ὁ δὲ , but He ) Alex. has ὁ δὲ Κύριος : so also others, along with the Latin Vulg. This reading is derived from ch. Acts 9:5 , where the narrative of Luke has it so. [144] But Paul, who speaks here, omits the word also in ch. Acts 22:8 . [145] The omission is elegant. For it was not until afterwards, in continuation, that he heard who was the Lord that here addressed him. ἐγὼ , I ) Therefore He doth live, Festus (notwithstanding thy cavil, “One Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive ”): ch. Acts 25:19 . Paul often refers to the words of the speech which Jesus spake to Saul, as we shall presently observe. Comp. note on Acts 26:17-18 . Ἰησοῦς , Jesus ) ὁ Ναζωραῖος , of Nazareth , is added in ch. Acts 22:8 . Paul does not add it in this place, in order to avoid offending (to spare) Agrippa, that he may not seem to upbraid him with the impiety of the Herods against the Christ. Also in Acts 26:26 , he speaks somewhat generally. στῆθι ἐπὶ τοὺς πόδας σου ) So the LXX., Ezekiel 2:1 .

[144] ABCE e Vulg. both Syriac Versions, Memph. have the Κύριος . Rec. Text omits it without the sanction of any very old authority. E. and T.

[145] To which its omission by transcribers here is probably due. E. and T.

Verse 16

Acts 26:16 . Ὧν τε ὀφθήσομαί σοι ) and of those visions which I will hereafter impart to thee [“of those things, in the which I will appear unto thee”].

Verse 17

Acts 26:17 . Ἐξαιρούμενος , rescuing thee) The Lord truly rescued Paul out of many dangers. The same verb occurs, ch. Acts 12:11 , and elsewhere, in the same sense. Paul intimates that this liberty, wherein he now rejoices in the midst of his very bonds, had been promised to him along with his going forth to the Gentiles. οὓς ) whom . The word is to be referred both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles : Acts 26:20 . νῦν ἐγὼ ) νῦν without the ἐγὼ is the reading in a very few MSS.: more read ἐγω , without the νῦν . The transcribers might readily omit one or other of the two words amidst a number of very short words. The Latin Vulg. retains the two, nunc ego . [146] I denotes the authority of Him who sends Paul: the now denotes the present time. ἀποστέλλω , I send ) The epoch of the apostleship of Paul begins with this very point, when he was converted: ch. Acts 9:15 , “He is a chosen vessel unto Me, to bear My name before the Gentiles,” etc.; 20, 27, Barnabas declared how Saul had seen the Lord in the way (a badge of apostleship); Galatians 1:12 ; Galatians 1:15-16 , “I neither received it of man but by the revelation of Jesus Christ It pleased God to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen.”

[146] The margin of Exodus 2:0 is more favourable to this reading than the larger Ed. And so the later decision is followed also by the Germ. Vers. E. B.

Ἐγὼ is the reading of ABCE e : Νῦν , of the Rec. Text without very old authority. Nunc ego , Vulg. E. and T.

Verse 18

Acts 26:18 . Ἀνοῖξαι , to open ) He opens the eyes, who sends Paul; and He opens them by the instrumentality of Paul, who is sent. There is in this passage a noble description of the whole process of conversion. Comp. Isaiah 42:6-7 . αὐτῶν , their ) viz. of Jews and Gentiles. τοῦ ἐπιστρέψαι ) There is not added αὐτοὺς , as it is presently added to λαβεῖν · for which reason, as ἀνοῖξαι , so ἐπιστρέψαι , is said of Paul (as the modern Greek Version understands it, as also Beza and others): and τοῦ is explanatory, as in Luke 1:73 , τοῦ δοῦναι , where the article indicates that the preceding Infinitive, ποιῆσαι , is explained by this subsequent one, “ To perform the mercy that He would grant unto us;” note. ἀπὸ σκότους εἰς φῶς , from darkness to light ) This clause more belongs to the people (the Jews): that which follows, more to the Gentiles. Comp. Acts 26:20 , note: εἰς , into light , 1 Peter 2:9 . Comp. Colossians 1:12-13 ; 1 John 1:7 ; 1 John 2:9-10 ; Revelation 21:24 . Φῶς here is without the article, as in Acts 26:23 . ἐξουσίας , the power ) which was very gross among idolaters. Comp. Colossians 1:13-14 , “ Redemption through His blood the forgiveness of sins.” Σατανᾶ , of Satan ) Satan is opposed to GOD, as antichrist is to Christ. τοῦ ) Anaphora [the frequent repetition of the same word at beginnings]. ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν , forgiveness of sins ) This belongs expressly to the people : ch. Acts 2:38 , “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Κλῆρον , lot, inheritance , among them who are sanctified, more applies to the Gentiles. κλῆρον , inheritance ) Comp. again Colossians 1:12-14 . ἐν τοῖς ἠγιασμένοις , among them which are Sanctified ) See ch. Acts 20:32 , note (This title is applied to believers from among the Gentiles, not however excluding Jewish believers: therefore ἐν , not σὺν , is used). πίστει , by faith ) Construe this with λαβεῖν , that they may receive [not with ἡγιασμένοις , sanctified , as Engl. Vers.]

Verse 19

Acts 26:19 . Ὅθεν ) whence I received the power to obey. οὐκ ἐγενόμην ἀπειθὴς , I was not disobedient ) Litotes: i.e . I was altogether and immediately obedient: Galatians 1:16 . Not even the conversion of Paul was irresistible. According to the opinion of the Jews, Paul ought to have been disobedient : this he denies himself. οὐρανίῳ , the heavenly ) and therefore most efficacious.

Verse 20

Acts 26:20 . Μετανοεῖν , that they should repent ) This more appertains to the Jews. ἐπιστρέφειν , turn ) This more appertains to the Gentiles. For to turn to the Lord Christ is said in this book especially of the Hebrews: ch. Acts 11:21 , note: to turn to God is said of the Gentiles: ch. Acts 14:15 , Acts 15:3 ; Act 15:19 ; 1 Thessalonians 1:9 .

Verse 21

Acts 26:21 . Ἕνεκα τούτων , for these causes ) Now Paul brings together all that went before, for the purpose of his defence.

Verse 22

Acts 26:22 . Ἐπικουρίας , help ) Ammonius observes; βοηθεῖ is said of the assistance given by one who is with another; ἐπικουρεῖ , of that of one who comes from without to the help of another. When all the Jews were either attacking, or else not defending Paul, God suddenly sent Romans to his help from the camp . Thus the promise which Jesus had given in Act 26:17 was fulfilled. τυχὼν ) In relation to us, not in relation to GOD, such things are fortuitous [ τυγχάνω properly implies chance ]. ἕσητκα , I have stood, I stand [continue]) safe and uninjured. μεγάλῳ , to great ) as in the present instance. μελλόντων ) The Genitive depends on ὧν . καὶ ) and , in particular, Moses, an extraordinary prophet. εἰ ) whether . Elegantly used. The fact was clear: the Jews had called it in question ; Acts 26:3 , “ questions among the Jews.” παθητὸς , is liable to capable of suffering ) The Jews had denied that Messiah can suffer. πρῶτος , the first ) 1 Corinthians 15:23 . φῶς , a light ) Acts 26:13 ; Acts 26:18 . μέλλει καταγγέλλειν , is about to show ) by the Gospel, as was foretold.

Verse 24

Acts 26:24 . ΜαίνΠαῦλε , thou art mad, Paul ) It is thou, Festus, who art mad. Festus saw that it is not nature which acts in Paul: he was not capable of seeing grace: wherefore he supposes that it was a Jewish kind of enthusiastic phrensy, of the same kind as was that among the Gentiles, according to their own fables. He does not ascribe to Paul habitual madness, but a particular act and feeling of madness then: comp. ch. Acts 12:15 . γράμματα , learning ) Festus accounts the apostle’s ardour as the effect of overmuch learning [Pedantry].

Verse 25

Acts 26:25 . Κράτιστε φῆστε , most noble Festus ) Madmen do not use names and terms of respect. Thus also Paul refutes Festus. ἀληθείας καὶ σωφροσὐνης , of truth and soberness ) “Soberness” is opposed to madness: “truth” is confirmed in the following verse. Both remain still, even when men of GOD act with the greatest vehemence. ἀποφθέγγομαι , I speak forth ) A suitable word.

Verse 26

Acts 26:26 . Ἐπίσταται , knoweth ) This is evident: for he even knew the Christian name, Acts 26:28 . Having refuted the objection of Festus, Paul urges the truth which he aimed at setting forth, appropriately and gradually, step by step, returning from Festus to Agrippa. παρρησιαζόμενος , using all freedom of speech ) He had free confidence, which Festus called madness. οὐκ ἐν γωνίᾳ ) not in a corner , but under the view of mankind.

Verse 27

Acts 26:27 . Τοῖς προφήταις , the prophets ) He who believes these, must believe Paul, and Christ Himself. οἶδα , I know ) Here Paul so holds fast the king, that he can hardly struggle against it. [This is an artifice which it is of advantage that energetic teachers should often use: but the hearer who feels himself closely pressed thereby, should not delay to yield in submission. V. g.]

Verse 28

Acts 26:28 . Ὁ δὲ Ἀγρίππας , but Agrippa ) The king is thought by some to speak contemptuously: it would be more true to say, that there was a motion towards good in him: with which comp. Acts 26:27 ; Acts 26:29 . ἐν ὀλίγῷ ) This phrase itself is not to be found in the LXX.; but synonyms however are found, put in the same neuter gender; and these synonyms express the Hebrew כמעט , the Latin propemodum, tantum non; and that too, in such a way that the effect itself, in the case of a past event, is excluded, in the case of a thing future, is included, according to the variety of the circumstances of each particular case. In the former manner there is generally added παρά · παρὰ μικρὸν , παρὰ βραχὺ , παρʼ ὀλίγον , Psalms 72:0 (73):2, 93 (94):17; Proverbs 5:14 : Latin, pæne. In the second way, ἐν is employed: ἐν τῷ μηδενὶ , Psalms 80:0 (81):14; ἐν τάχει , Psalms 2:12 : Lat. nullo negotio, facile, celeriter; which notion admirably accords with this passage, which also has ἐν . Therefore there are presented to us here, Festus without Christ, Paul the representative of Christianity, and Agrippa, at the point where the decision between the two roads must be made, with an excellent bias.

Verse 29

Acts 26:29 . Εὐξαίμην ἂν τῷ Θεῷ , I would wish before GOD) Agrippa speaks of it as a thing at his own pleasure, as if he could at will admit human persuasion, such as he ascribed to Paul: Paul courteously corrects this error; for it is the gift and work of GOD. καὶ ἐν ὀλίγῳ καὶ ἐν πολλῷ , both almost and altogether ) Paul retorts the expression almost upon the king; and by a kind of parody adds, and altogether : both of which designate (imply) both the time and the easiness of the thing: Those things which are easy, are for the most part quickly done; those things which are difficult, are slowly done. The ἐν πολλῷ [implying slowness and difficulty in the accomplishment] appertains to Festus, and other hearers like Festus, whom he invites to faith: the ἐν ὀλίγῳ ( in a little, easily, quickly, almost ), or both expressions, apply to Agrippa. οὐ μόνον σὲ , not only thou ) Paul intimates that he is ready, not only to bestow (devote) τὸ ὄλιγον , that which is little and easy , the labour of speaking, but also that which is much and hard , τὸ πολὺ , viz. great labour, endurance, and life itself. πάντας , all ) It is the part of modesty, that Paul does not name and address all these; yet he looks at them and marks them. σήμερον , this day ) This is construed by most interpreters with the preceding participle; by Chrysostom and others, with the subsequent verb. And, indeed, it has remarkable force with the verb. γένεσθαι , might become ) The word of Agrippa (“ to become a Christian”) is repeated. The antithesis is εἰμι , I am , presently. τοιούτους , such ) Christians , not merely by profession, but in reality. An elegant periphrasis. κἀγὼ , even I myself ) Paul speaks from a sense of his own blessedness, with the widest (most comprehensive) love. Comp. 1 Corinthians 7:7 . παρεκτὸς , with the exception of ) A most sweet ἐπιθεραπεία ( after-correction . See Append.) and exception.

Verse 30

Acts 26:30 . Ἀνέστη , rose up ) They therefore had sat. A most precious moment (season) for Agrippa; which whether he used or not, we shall hereafter see.

Verse 31

Acts 26:31 . Οὐδὲν , nothing ) Is there nothing besides, ye hearers, which ye might have learned from that discourse? Political reflections and favourable opinions pronounced on such a preacher, do not settle the matter. πράσσει , doeth ) and hath done. They speak not merely of one action, but of the whole life of Paul.

Verse 32

Acts 26:32 . Εἰ μὴ , if he had not ) Now Festus could not let him go. There was added the fear of offending the Jews.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Acts 26". Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.