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Bible Commentaries
Acts 26

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

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Verses 1-23

Acts 26:1-23 . Paul Speaks before Agrippa.— It is Agrippa the vassal king, not Festus the representative of the sovereign power, who calls on Paul to speak, and to whom Paul addresses himself throughout, even after the intervention of Festus ( Acts 26:24-26). In Acts 9:15 it was predicted that Paul would speak before kings, and he now does so. The speech is in elegant Greek, and abounds in classical turns and expressions, suited for such an audience. The king is not called a Jew, but complimented on his familiarity with Jewish ways and questions. Expressions are piled up to indicate that all the Jews, both in his own nation ( i.e. at Tarsus) and at Jerusalem know that from his earliest days Paul was never anything but a Pharisee. To the Jewish king this might be a recommendation. He repeats that it is for believing in the Resurrection that he is prosecuted (see Acts 23:6-9), which will not bear scrutiny, since the Pharisees generally believed in it. He was prosecuted for the consequences he inferred from the resurrection of Christ, viz. that the Law was not essential to salvation. The question in Acts 8 is therefore irrelevant, though it throws light on early controversies in which the Christians may have sought to shelter their belief behind that of the Pharisees. On the story of Paul’ s conversion ( Acts 26:9-18), see Acts 9:2 ff*. The words “ gave my vote against them” ( Acts 26:10) are not to be taken strictly; he no doubt did what he could in local synagogues to secure their punishment, but he could have no vote there nor in the Sanhedrin. He also “ strove to make them blaspheme,” i.e. to abjure Jesus ( cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23). On the power he may have had from the high priests ( Acts 26:12), see Acts 9:2 *. The slight changes from the earlier versions of the story: that the whole party fell down; that the voice went on, in the proverbial expression, “ It is hard . . . pricks” ; that the message conveyed in ch. 9 through Ananias is here spoken by the Lord Himself; all show how much the story was repeated and how it varied in repetition. The principal facts and words are in all three versions. Paul’ s witness ( Acts 26:16) is to be both of what is revealed to him in his first vision and of what will be revealed to him of Christ in visions yet to come, and he is (to be?) delivered (this word may also mean “ chosen” ) from Jew and Gentile alike, to be sent to both alike, to fulfil to them prophetic predictions ( Jeremiah 1:7, Isaiah 35:5). Passages of later Pauline epistles are also echoed here; cf. Ephesians 2:2, Colossians 1:13. In his own account, the Gentiles are his mark; see Galatians 1:16. Agrippa is personally called on ( Acts 26:19) to recognise that Paul was faithful to this charge. The statement ( Acts 26:20) that he preached at Damascus and at Jerusalem and throughout all Judæ a, agrees with Acts 26:9, but can with difficulty be reconciled with Galatians 1:16 f.* That his preaching to the Jews and Gentiles was the reason of the attack made on him by the Jews in the Temple ( Acts 26:21) is not the whole truth (see Acts 21:27-30). The help by which he was freed from that peril ( Acts 26:22) and enabled to continue his testimony, was brought to him by Lysias, whom he is here made to recognise as an instrument of God. What he states as his Gospel is what in Luke 24:44-47 the risen Lord Himself puts in the mouths of His followers, that the prophets and Moses are fulfilled in Him, that the Christ is not only a Conqueror but a Sufferer; but special weight is laid here on the Resurrection. Christ as the first risen from the dead is the great proclaimer of light to Jew and Gentile. A parallel to this will scarcely be found in the Pauline writings ( cf. 1 Peter 2:9, John 1:4; John 8:12).

Verses 24-29

Acts 26:24-29 . Challenges and Rejoinders.— That Paul was out of his senses was said of him at Corinth ( 2 Corinthians 5:13); there is nothing in what he is reported to have said on this occasion that would suggest it even to a heathen, who must have seen various forms of religious enthusiasm. Paul answers that he is in his sober senses, but he turns to Agrippa, in whom he is interested; he is acquainted with the facts about Christ which are notorious; he believes the prophets and must concede that they spoke of Christ. The speech of Agrippa in Acts 26:28 is given in a text which has many variants and which WH (ii. App. 100 ) despair of restoring. [102] With the reading of Ephraim, given below, Agrippa puts Paul’ s question aside as a trifling one; of course he believes the prophets, but what then? Paul, on the other hand ( Acts 26:29), plays with Agrippa’ s phrase, and declares his desire that whether in a small matter or a great (or, his words may be taken, whether for a little time or a long time), his hearers might stand where he does, though with better fortune.

[102] The reading underlying AV. “ to become a Christian,” is a correction to escape the difficulty of the older text “ you are lightly persuaded to make me a Christian” (RV), which is unsatisfactory. The use of the term “ Christian” by Agrippa is strange; it originated at Antioch ( Acts 11:26); the Palestinian name for the new sect was Nazoraios ( Acts 24:5, cf. Acts 2:22 *). In the Armenian Catena the Syrian Father Ephraim omits this term, and reads simply, “ You are persuading me to a small thing.”

Verses 30-32

Acts 26:30-32 . Result of the Hearing.

Acts 26:30 scarcely suggests the deliberations of a court after the hearing.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Acts 26". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pfc/acts-26.html. 1919.
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