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Bible Commentaries
Acts 26

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NTLuscombe's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, " You are permitted to speak for yourself. " So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself.

1. Paul now has the best audience of all his attempts to defend himself.

2. The Jewish accusers are not present.

3. Two high Roman rulers are present - Festus and Agrippa.

Verse 2

2 I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews.

1. Paul addresses his remarks to King Agrippa.

2. Paul is glad to have the opportunity for a fair hearing.

Verse 3

3 especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.

1. Knowing the background of Agrippa, his father and grandfather, Paul also knows that he is familiar with Jewish law, Jewish customs, and the Old Testament Scriptures.

2. Paul knows that Agrippa will understand, where others, not familiar with the Law of Moses, might not comprehend the issues involved.

Verses 4-5

4 My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know.

5 They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

1. The entire life of Paul was live among the Jews. His parents were Jews. He was trained in the Law. He was active in his life as a Pharisee.

2. The Jews know that he was a Pharisee. They knew that he was a strict, conservative Jew.

Verse 6

6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers.

1. The real issue is resurrection. That is the thorn in the side of some Jews.

2. Paul reminds us that this is not just a New Testament concept. It was taught in the Old Testament.

Verse 7

7 To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews.

1. This hope is not a new idea. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the 12 tribes of Israel lived in this hope.

2. This is the issue against Paul.

Verse 8

8 Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?

1. If you believe in God, what is so difficult about resurrection? If God can create the world; If God can create man in the Garden of Eden; then He can resurrect man from the dead.

2. God made man from the dust of the earth. When we die, our body returns to that same dust. God made us once; He can make us again.

Verse 9

9 Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

1. Paul admits that he did many things against Jesus.

2. He mentions several of them as specifics of his persecution against Christians.

Verses 10-11

10 This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.

11 And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

1. Paul mentions several ways he persecuted Christians.

1. In Jerusalem many saints were put in prison.

2. He got authority from the chief priest.

3. Some were put to death.

4. Paul cast his vote to put them to death.

5. He entered synagogues and caused them to blaspheme

6. He even traveled to other cities and other countries to persecute Christians.

Verse 12

12 While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests.

1. With this background, Paul now moves to describe his conversion.

2. Something changed. He was with the Jews. The high priest was giving him authority. He was their hero. They were assisting him in his persecution of Christians. But something changed. Now they are ready to kill Paul. Why?

Verse 13

13 at midday, O king, along the road I say a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me.

1. On the way to Damascus, at noon, a bright light began shining from heaven.

2. It was on Paul and all those Jews who were with him.

Verse 14

14 And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, " Saul, Saul, wy are yo persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads. "

1. The entire party traveling with Paul fell to the ground.

2. Paul heard a voice. The others with Paul heard the sound of a voice, but did not understand the language, so it was just noise.

3. Hebrew language - the language of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The primary language of the Old Testament. The language used by Jews for reading scripture, prayers and other ceremonies in their religious activity and worship.

Verse 15

15 So I said, " Who are you, Lord? " And He said, " I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

1. Now Paul identifies the voice as that of Jesus.

2. Jesus is the object of his persecution. Now Paul is confronted with Jesus.

Verse 16

16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you.

1. Jesus has a purpose and a plan. God has a plan for each of us. This does not eliminate our freedom to follow God's plan or to go against that plan. But God does have a plan for us.

2. Paul will be a minister; a witness.

Verse 17

17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you.

1. Jesus tells Paul that he would be rescued from the Jewish people. Jesus knows that many of Paul's friends will become his enemies, because of this change.

2. Therefore, Paul will spend his time being a minister to the Gentiles.

Verse 18

18 To open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they many receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.

1. Paul's mission -

1. Open their eyes, enlighten them, bring them out of darkness (ignorance) and into the light

2. Turn them from the grip of Satan to faith in God

3. To help them receive forgiveness

4. To show them the eternal inheritance of eternal life with God in heaven.

Verses 19-20

19 Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.

20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.

1. Convinced of the vision he saw, the words spoken by Jesus, he obeyed.

2. Immediately after his conversion Paul was in Damascus preaching the very message he had come there to extinguish. He was preaching the Jesus which he came there to persecute.

3. Here is one of those succinct passages which contain in summary the plan of salvation.

1. For ALL - Jerusalem, Judea and Gentiles are all subject to the same commands of God.

2. Repent - They should repent. This word involves a change of mind which results in a change of life.

3. Turn to God - Repentance suggests a turning away from sin and the way of the world. But in turning away from sin, we also need to turn TO something.

4. Works befitting repentance - Repentance demands a new way of living, acting, behaving. John told some to "bear fruits worthy of repentance." ( Mat_3:8 ) If we claim to repent, but our actions don't demonstrate that change, it is not genuine repentance.

5. NOTE: This passage is not trying to say that we can "work" our way to heaven. Paul is not saying that we are saved by "works."

Verse 21

21 For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.

1. Because Paul was now preaching the message of Jesus, the Jews turned their hatred from all Christians to Paul.

2. Now they are trying to kill Paul, just as they (and he) killed others teaching Jesus.

Verse 22

22 Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come -

1. With God's help, Paul has survived, revived, endured and prevailed.

2. Paul has been in several jails, beaten, stoned, driven out of several towns and harassed in every place he went.

Verse 23

23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.

1. The gospel is the message of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

2. Paul would preach this message to Jews and Gentiles.

Verse 24

24 Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, " Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad! "

1. Festus tells Paul that he is mad, crazy, beside himself, and unbalanced.

2. Why would Festus say this? I believe there are a couple of reasons.

1. Paul's fervor - Paul spoke with passion. His earnestness and passion might be interpreted by some as someone who has lost their mind and become a ranting lunatic.

2. Vision of a madman - Festus probably thought that Paul's vision and belief in a man who died and was raised from the dead, was just a figment of his overactive imagination.

3. Emphasis on Resurrection - Festus was a typical Roman who believed in this life. They had no particular hope eternal life. They lived for today. Their philosophy was "Eat, Drink, and be Merry. Tomorrow we die."

Verse 25

25 But he said, " I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.

1. Paul is not deranged.

2. Paul's remarks were the truth. Paul spoke freely the words of truth.

3. Reason - The KJV says "soberness." The word means "soundness of mind, self-control." The response of Paul was sound, logical reasoning. It was not the wild ramblings of an out of control maniac.

Verse 26

26 For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner.

1. Now Paul turns to King Agrippa.

2. Agrippa is familiar with Jewish laws and customs. He knows these things to be true. He can verify the truthfulness of these statements.

Verse 27

27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.

1. King Agrippa is asked directly about his belief in the Old Testament prophets.

2. There is no record of his response. Paul already knows the answer.

3. The question may have been a rhetorical one. The question was asked, not to gain information, but to cause Agrippa to think about his faith.

Verse 28

28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, " You almost persuade me to become a Christian. "

1. The song is titled "Almost Persuaded." Agrippa was almost moved to become a Christian.

2. Albert Barnes writes, " He could not deny that he believed the prophecies in the Old Testament. He could not deny that the argument was a strong one that they had been fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. He could not deny that the evidence of the miraculous interposition of God in the conversion of Paul was overwhelming; and instead, therefore, of charging him, as Festus had done, with derangement, he candidly and honestly avows the impression which the proof had made on his mind."

3. There are many today in the same situation as Agrippa was. Almost, close, near, just about, all but.

4. There is a proverb that says, "Close only counts in horseshoes." Almost is not a home run in baseball. Close is not a basket in basketball. Just about is not a goal in hockey.

5. Almost, but lost.

6. Some commentaries suggest that the statement of Agrippa was made in derision and mockery. They treat the statement as if Agrippa was saying, "So, you think you can convince me. Ha! No way!" I reject this view. I believe the statement of Agrippa was genuine. Paul's response was as if the statement was a real expression of being almost convinced.

Verse 29

29 And Paul said, " I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains. "

1. Paul responds by saying that he want Agrippa and all who hear his voice to be, not just almost, but altogether persuaded.

2. If everyone in that hall could know the joy that Paul had, the hope that drove him, the faith that motivated him, the love of God that kept him going, they would be clamoring to become Christians.

Verse 30

30 When he had said these things, the king stood up, as well as the governor and Bernice and those who sat with them;

1. The meeting is now over.

2. The king stands up, along with the governor, Bernice and all those dignitaries that sat with them.

Verses 31-32

31 and when they had gone aside, they talked among themselves, saying, " This man is doing nothing deserving of death or chains. "

32 Then Agrippa said to Festus, " This man might have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar. "

1. Now they have a private conference. They talk among themselves.

2. The message is - This man is innocent. He should be set free. He has done nothing worthy of death. He had not done anything worthy of keeping him in prison.

3. There is no legal cause to hold him in prison - EXCEPT - he as appealed to Caesar.

Bibliographical Information
Luscombe, Manly. "Commentary on Acts 26". Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mlc/acts-26.html. 2021.
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