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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Acts 26





Acts 26:1. ὑπέρ] Lachm. Tisch. Born. read περί, upon decisive evidence.

Acts 26:3. After δέομαι Elz. Scholz have σου, which is deleted by Lachm. Tisch. Born., according to A B E א, min. Aeth. Syr. p. Arm. Vulg. A supplementary addition.

Acts 26:6. εἰς] Elz. Scholz have πρός. εἰς has A B E א, min. in its favour; is recommended by Griesb., and adopted by Lachm. Tisch. Born.; πρός is explanatory, in accordance with Acts 13:32.

After πατ. A B C E א, min. Chrys. Theophyl. and many vss. have ἡμῶν. Adopted by Griesb. Scholz, Lachm., and, in view of the considerable preponderance of testimony, rightly. The unnecessary pronoun was easily passed over.

Acts 26:7. The critically established order of the words is: ἐγκαλοῦμαι ὑπὸ ἰουδαίων (not ὑπὸ τῶν ʼιουδ., as Elz. has) βασιλεῦ. So Lachm. Born. Tisch. ἀγρίππα, which Elz. and Scholz have after βασιλεῦ, is an addition opposed to greatly preponderant testimony.

Acts 26:10. φυλακαῖς] decisive witnesses have ἐν φυλ.; so Griesb. Scholz, Lachm. Tisch. Born.

Acts 26:12. ἐν οἷς καί] καί is wanting in A B C E J א, min. and several vss. Deleted by Lachm. and Born.; and on that preponderating testimony with the more right, as the frequent καί after the relative was easily added mechanically.

τῆς παρὰ τῶν] Lachm. and Born. have merely τῶν, according to A E J, min. vss. (B א omit only παρά). But τῆς might be just as easily left out after the syllable πης, as παρά might be overlooked as superfluous. If only τῶν stood originally, there was no reason why it should be completed from Acts 26:10. Therefore the Recepta is to be retained.

Acts 26:14. λαλοῦσαν πρός με κ. λέγουσαν] Lachm. and Born. read λέγουσαν πρός με, following A B C J א, min. vss., to which also E, min., having φωνῆς λεγούσης πρός με, are to be added. But the comparison of Acts 9:4, Acts 22:7, occasioned the abbreviation.

Acts 26:15. δέ] Lachm. Tisch. Born. read δὲ κύριος, according to very considerable testimony. The Recepta is from Acts 9:5 (see the critical remarks thereon).

Acts 26:16. εἶδες] B C* (?) 137, Arm. Syr. p. Ambr. Aug. have εἶδές με. More precise definition, although defended by Buttmann in the Stud. u. Krit. 1860, p. 360.

Acts 26:17. Instead of ἐγώ, Elz. Scholz have νῦν, against decisive testimony.

Acts 26:20. After πρῶτον Lachm. Born. Tisch. have τε, as in A B א. Inserted for closer connection with καὶ ἱεροσ. Comp. the following τεκαί.

εἰς πᾶσαν] εἰς is wanting in A B א, and is deleted by Lachm., but is indispensable, and might be easily enough passed over after the syllable οις.

Acts 26:21. The article is wanting before ἰουδαῖοι in B G א*, which Buttmann approves; it was easily overlooked on account of the similarity of the following syllable, but would hardly be added, comp. Acts 26:2-3; Acts 26:7.

Acts 26:22. παρά] ἀπό has the stronger attestation (Lachm. Tisch. Born.).

μαρτυρούμενος] A B G H א, min. Chrys. Theophyl. have μαρτυρόμενος. Approved by Griesb., adopted by Lachm. Tisch. Born. A correction. See the exegetical remarks.

Acts 26:25. δέ] Lachm. and Born. read δὲ παῦλος, which, indeed, has important attestation, but has the suspicion of having arisen from the very usual practice of writing the name on the margin.

Acts 26:28. ἔφη] is to be deleted, with Lachm. Tisch., according to important witnesses (including א).

γενέσθαι] Lachm. and Born. read ποιῆσαι, after A B א, loti three min. Copt. Syr. p. (on the margin). This variation is connected with the reading πειθηι (instead of πείθεις), but which is found only in A, and along with ποιῆσαι is of the nature of a gloss.(159)

Acts 26:29. πολλῷ] Lachm. Tisch. Born. read ΄εγάλῳ, after A B א, min. Syr. utr. Copt. Arm. Vulg. Rightly; πολλῷ involuntarily intruded itself as a contrast of ὀλίγῳ.

Acts 26:30. ἀνέστη τε] Elz. has καὶ ταῦτα εἰπόντος αὐτοῦ ἀνέστη, against A B א, min. Syr. Erp. Aeth. Arm. Vulg. An amplification.

Verses 1-3

Acts 26:1-3. ἐπιτρέπεταί σοι] it is (herewith) permitted to thee to speak for thyself, i.e. to defend thyself. Comp. Soph. Aj. 151, El. 545; Xen. Hist. i. 7. 16.

ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα] after stretching forth his hand, is not equivalent to the κατασείσας τῇ χειρί, Acts 12:17, Acts 13:16 (in opposition to Er. Schmid and Hammond), because this latter had for its object the σιγᾶν of the hearers (Acts 12:17); but it conveys a trait descriptive of the solemnity of this moment: Paul comes forward in the attitude of an orator, with all the ingenuousness and candour of a good conscience, although the chain hung on his hands, Acts 26:29. Comp. in contrast to the simple gesture of Paul, the artificially rhetorical one in Apuleius, Metamorph. ii. p. 54: “Porrigit dextram et ad instar oratorum conformat articulum, duobusque infimis conclusis digitis ceteros eminentes porrigit.” According to Lange’s fancy, it is an intimation that “he stretched out his hand at length for once to an intelligent judge.”

How true and dignified is also here (comp. Acts 24:10) the conciliatory exordium, with which Paul commences his speech!

ὑπὸ ἰουδαίων] by Jews (generally), not: by the Jews, comp. Acts 25:10. In regard to Jewish accusations, Paul esteemed himself fortunate that he was to defend himself before Agrippa, as the latter was best informed about Jewish customs and controversies.

Acts 26:3. μάλιστα γνώστην ὄντα σε] as thou art most (more than all other authorities) cognizant. The speech, continuing by a participial construction, is joined on in an abnormal case, as if an accusative expression had been previously used (such as πρός σεἀπολογεῖσθαι, Plat. Apol. p. 24 B). Less simply Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 272 [E. T. 317]. See on Ephesians 1:18, and Stallb. ad Plat. Rep. p. 386 B. The view of Bornemann is very harsh (as διὸ δέομαι entirely closes the previous construction, and commences a new sentence of the speech): that Paul has put the accusative, because he had it in view to continue subsequently with αἰτῶἀκοῦσαί μου, but omitted to do so on account of πάντωνζητημάτων.

κατὰ ἰουδ.] among Jews throughout. See Winer, p. 374 [E. T. 499].

Verse 4-5

Acts 26:4-5. ΄ὲν οὖν] introduces, in connection with the preceding exordium, the commencement now of the defence itself. See Bäumlein, Partik. p. 181.

βίωσιν] manner of life. Ecclus. Praef. 1, Symm. Psalms 38:6. Not preserved in Greek writers.

τὴν ἀπʼ ἀρχῆςἱεροσ.] a significant epexegesis of τὴν ἐκ νεότητος, for the establishment of the following ἴσασι κ. τ. λ.

προγινώσκοντεςφαρισαῖος] my manner of life … know all Jews, since they knew me from the outset (since the first time of my becoming known)—namely, that I, according to the strictest (Acts 22:3) sect of our religion ( θρησκείας), have lived as Pharisee. This φαρισαῖος, calling that ἀκριβ. αἵρεσιν by its name, stands with great emphasis at the close. Notice generally the intentional definiteness with which Paul here describes all the circumstances of the case, to which belongs also the emphatic repetition of τήν (see Bornemann in loc.).

In προγινώσκ., προ, before, contains the same conception, which is afterwards still more definitely denoted by ἄνωθεν. They knew Paul earlier than merely since the present encounter, and that indeed ἄνωθεν, from the beginning (Luke 1:3), which therefore, as it refers to the knowing, and not to ἔζησα, may not be explained: from my ancestors (Beza).

ἐὰν θέλωσι μαρτυρεῖν] if they do not conceal or deny, but are willing to testify it. “Nolebat autem, quia persentiscebant, in conversione Pauli, etiam respectu vitae ante actae, efficacissimum esse argumentum pro veritate fidei Christianae,” Bengel. Comp. Acts 22:19 f.

Verse 6-7

Acts 26:6-7. As I was known from of old by every one as a disciple of the strictest orthodoxy, so it is also now far from being anything heterodox, on account of which I stand accused ( ἕστηκα κρινόμενος),—it is the universal, ardently-cherished, national hope, directed to the promise issued by God to our fathers.

ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι] on account of hope toward the promise, etc. That Paul means the hope of the Messianic kingdom to be erected, the hope of the whole eternal κληρονομία (Hebrews 9:15), not merely the special hope of the resurrection of the dead (Grotius), the following more precise description proves, in which the universal and unanimous solicitude of the nation is depicted. He had preached of this hope, that the risen Jesus would realize it (comp. Acts 13:32 f.), and this was the reason of his persecution. See also Acts 28:20.

εἰς τοὺς κατέρας ἡμῶν] issued to our fathers. On the order of the words, the participle after the substantive, see Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. v. 3. 4.

εἰς ἥν refers to the ἐπαγγελία.

τὸ δωδεκάφυλον ἡμῶν] our twelve-tribe-stock (a theocratically honourable designation of the nation as a whole, comp. James 1:1). The word is also found in the Protevang. Jacobi, 1 (see Thilo in loc., p. 166 f.); Clem. 1 Cor. 55, comp. chap. 31, p. 76: τὸ δωδεκάσκηπτρον τοῦ ἰσραήλ. Quite analogous is δεκάφυλος, Herod. v. 66 (comp. τετράφυλος in the same place). To understand the expression historically, it need only be remarked, that even after the exile the collective body of the people actually consisted of the twelve tribes; in which view the circumstance, that ten tribes did not return from the exile, did not alter anything in the objective relation, and could not destroy the consciousness, deeply interwoven and vividly bound up by history and prophecy with the whole national character, that every Jew (wherever he was) belonged to the great unity of the δωδεκάφυλον,—to say nothing of the fact that all the members of the ten tribes did not go into exile, and of the exiled all did not jointly and severally remain in exile. The question, therefore, as to the later fate of the ten tribes (see especially, Baumgarten) does not belong to this place.

ἐν ἐκτενείᾳ κ. τ. λ.] with constancy attending to the worship of God, as well by the תָּמִיד (sacrificium juge; see Ewald, Alterth. p. 171) as by prayer and every kind of adoration. Comp. on Luke 2:37, where also, in order at once to give prominence to the earnestness of the constant worship, νύκτα precedes.—ͅ καταντῆσαι] to arrive, as if at a goal, which is the contents of the promise. Comp. on Philippians 3:7. The conception λαμβάνειν τὴν ἐπαγγελ., Acts 2:23, Galatians 3:14, Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 11:13, is analogous. The realization of the Messianic promise is also here represented as attaching itself to the pious preparation of the nation. Comp. Acts 3:20 f.

ὑπὸ ἰουδαίων] by Jews! placed at the end, brings into emphatic prominence the contrast. The absurdity and wickedness of being impeached by Jews concerning the hope of the Messianic kingdom were to be made thoroughly palpable.

Verse 8

Acts 26:8. The circumstance that Paul made the resurrection of Jesus the foundation of his preaching of the Messianic kingdom, had specially provoked the hatred of the Jews. This resurrection they would not recognise (Acts 25:19), and therefore he continues—in his impassioned address breaking away from what had gone before, and in the person of the Jewish king addressing the Jews themselves as if present ( παρʼ ὑμῖν)—with the bold inquiry: Why is it esteemed as incredible with you? etc. Beza and others (also de Wette and Lange) place after τί a note of interrogation: How? Is it incredible? etc. But it tells decisively against this view that the mere τί is not so used; τί γάρ, τί οὖν or τί δέ would be employed.

εἰ θεὸς νεκρ. ἐγείρει] if God (as He has done in the instance of Jesus) raises the dead. Comp. Vulgate, Erasmus, and others, εἰ is neither equivalent to ὅτι (Luther, Beza, Grotius, and others), nor is it the problematic whether (de Wette and others); the more especially as the matter under discussion is not that of doubt or uncertainty on the part of the Jews, but that of their definite unbelief, which is absurd.

Verse 9-10

Acts 26:9-10. In consequence of this unbelief ( μὲν οὖν), I myself was once a decided opponent of the name of Jesus.

ἔδοξα ἐμαυτῷ] mihi ipsi videbar. See examples in Wetstein. The view of Erasmus, Calovius, de Dieu, and Vater, who connect ἐμαυτῷ with δεῖν, is to be rejected; for δεῖν with the dative, although not without example in classical writers (Xen. Mem iii. 3. 10, Anab. iii. 4. 35, Oecon. vii. 20; see Kühner, § 551, note 5; Schoem. ad Is. p. 380), is foreign to the N.T. ἐμαυτῷ has the emphasis of his own personal opinion: I had the self-delusion, that I ought to exert myself. “Tanta vis errantis conscientiae,” Bengel.

πρὸς τὸ ὄνομα] in reference to the name, namely, in order to suppress the confession and invocation of it. Observe how Paul uses ἰησοῦ τοῦ ναζωρ. according to his standpoint as Saul.

] which πολλὰ ἐναντία πρᾶξαι I also actually did. Comp. Galatians 2:10. This is then more particularly set forth by καὶ (and indeed) πολλοὺς κ. τ. λ. Mark the difference between πράσσειν and ποιεῖν; see on John 3:20.

τῶν ἁγίων] spoken from the Christian standpoint of the apostle, with grief. The ἐγώ also has painful emphasis.

ἀναιρ. τε αὐτ. κατήνεγκα ψῆφον] and when they were put to death (when people were on the point of executing them) I have given vote (thereto), calculum adjeci, i.e. I have assented, συνευδόκησα, Acts 22:20. The plural ἀναιρ. αὐτ. is not, with Grotius, Kuinoel, and others, to be referred merely to Stephen, but also to other unknown martyrs, who met their death in the persecution which began with the killing of Stephen. Comp. Acts 8:1, Acts 9:1. Elsner and Kypke make the genitive dependent on κατήνεγκα, and in that, case take κατα- in a hostile reference (comp. καταψηφίζειν). Harsh, and without precedent in linguistic usage; ἀναιρ. αὐτ. is the genitive absolute, and κατήν. is conceived with a local reference, according to the original conception of the ψῆφος (the voting-stone), which the voter deposits in the urn. Classical authors make use of the simple φέρειν ψῆφον (Plat. Legg. vi. p. 766 B, p. 767 D, and frequently), also of διαφέρειν, or ἐπιφέρ., or ἀναφέρ., or ἐκφέρ. ψ. But to καταφέρειν in our passage corresponds the classical τιθέναι ψῆφον (Plat. Tim. p. 51 D Eur. Or. 754; Dem. 362. 6, and frequently).

Verses 11-13

Acts 26:11-13. κατὰ πάσας τ. συναγ.] throughout all the synagogues (in Jerusalem), going from one to another and searching out the Christians in all; comp. Acts 22:19.

τιμωρῶν αὐτούς] taking vengeance on them, dragging them to punishment, Soph. O. R. 107. 140; Polyb. ii. 56. 15. Comp. Acts 22:5, and Wetstein in loc. The middle is more usual.

βλασφημεῖν] namely, τὸν ἰησοῦν, which is obvious of itself, as the object of the specific reverence of Christians (James 2:7). Comp. Plin. Ep. x. 97; Suicer, Thes. I. p. 697. Whether and how far this ἠνάγκαζ. βλασφ. was actually successful, cannot be determined.

ἕως καὶ εἰς τὰς ἔξω πόλεις] till even unto the extraneous cities (outside of Palestine). By this remark the following narrative has the way significantly prepared for it.

ἐν οἷς] in which affairs of persecution. Comp. Acts 24:18.

μετʼ ἐξουσ. κ. ἐπιτρ.] with power and plenary authority (Polyb. iii. 15. 7; 2 Maccabees 13:14). “Paulus erat commissarius,” Bengel.

ἡμέρας μέσας] At noon, μεσημβρίας (comp. Acts 22:6), genitive of the definition of time, Bernhardy, p. 145. On the non-classical Greek expression μέση ἡμέρα, see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 55 f.

κατὰ τὴν ὁδόν] along the way, Acts 25:3, Acts 8:36.

ὑπὲρ τ. λαμπρ. τ. ἡλίου] surpassing the brightness of the sun. See Winer, p. 376 [E. T. 502].

Verse 14-15

Acts 26:14-15. See on Acts 9:4 ff.; comp. Acts 22:7 f.

τῇ ἑβρ. διαλ.] It was natural that the exalted Christ should make no other language than the native tongue of the person to be converted the medium of his verbal revelation. Moreover, these words confirm the probability that Paul now spoke not, as at Acts 21:40, in Hebrew, but in Greek.

σκληρόν σοι πρὸς κέντρα λακτίζειν] hard for thee, to kick against goads! i.e. it is for thee a difficult undertaking, surpassing thy strength, and not to be accomplished by thee (compare Gamaliel’s saying, Acts 5:39), that thou (as my persecutor) shouldest contend against my will. δὲ τροπὴ ἀπὸ τῶν βοῶν· τῶν γὰρ οἱ ἄτακτοι κατὰ τὴν γεωργίαν κεντριζόμενοι ὑπὸ ἀροῦντος, λακτίζουσι τὸ κέντρον καὶ μᾶλλον πλήττονται, Schol. ad Pind. Pyth. ii. 173. Comp. Aesch. Agam. 1540 (1624): πρὸς κέντρα μὴ λάκτιζε. See other examples from Greek and Roman writers in Grotius and Wetstein; also Blomfield, ad Aesch. Prom. 331; Elmsl. ad Eur. Bacch. 794.

Verses 16-18

Acts 26:16-18. ἀλλά] “Prostravit Christus Paulum, ut eum humiliaret; nunc eum erigit ac jubet bono esse animo,” Calvin.

εἰς τοῦτο γάρ] εἰς τοῦτο points emphatically to what follows ( προχειρίσασθαι κ. τ. λ.), and γάρ assigns the reason for what precedes ( ἀνάστηθι κ. τ. λ.).

προχειρ.] in order to appoint thee. See on Acts 3:20, Acts 22:14. He was, indeed, the σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς, Acts 9:15.

ὧν τε ὀφθήσομαί σοι] ὧν is to be resolved into τούτων ; but ὀφθήσομαι is not, with Luther, Bengel, and others, including Bornemann, to be taken as causative (videre faciam), but purely passive (I shall be seen). The contained in ὧν is equivalent to διʼ , on account of which; see Stallb. ad Plat. Symp. p. 174 A Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 374; especially Soph. Oed. T. 788, where ὧν μὲν ἱκόμην is likewise to be resolved into τούτων διʼ ἱκόμην. Consequently: and of those things, on account of which I shall appear to thee (tibi videbor). Comp. Winer, p. 246 [E. T. 329], who, however, without reason contradicts himself, p. 135 [E. T. 178].

ἐξαιρούμενός σε] is an accompanying definition to ὀφθήσομαί σοι: rescuing thee (as thy deliverer) from the people (i.e. κατʼ ἐξοχήν, the Jewish nation) and from the Gentiles, from their hostile power. On ἐξαιρ., comp. Acts 7:10, Acts 12:11, Acts 23:27; Galatians 1:4, LXX. and Apocr.; Dem. 256. 2, al. Calvin appropriately says: “Hic armatur contra omnes metus, qui eum manebant, et simul praeparatur ad crucis tolerantiam.”

εἰς οὕς] is not, with Calvin, Grotius, and others, to be referred merely to τῶν ἐθνῶν, but, with Beza, Bengel, Heinrichs, Kuinoel, de Wette, to τοῦ λαοῦ κ. τ. ἐθνῶν together, which is required by the significant bearing of Acts 26:19-20.

ἀποστέλλω] not future, but strictly present.

ἀνοῖξαι ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτῶν] contains the aim of the mission. And this opening of their eyes, i.e. the susceptibility for the knowledge of divine truth (the opposite: Acts 28:27; Romans 11:8), which was to be brought to them by the preaching of the gospel (Acts 26:23), was to have the design: τοῦ ἐπιστρέψαι (that they may turn themselves; on account of Acts 26:20, less admissible is the rendering of Beza and Bengel: ut convertas) ἀπὸ σκότους εἰς φῶς, from darkness to light, i.e. from a condition, in which they are destitute of saving truth and involved in ignorance and sin, to the opposite element, καὶ ( ἀπὸ) τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ σατανᾶ κ. τ. λ. The two more precise definitions of ἐπιστρέψαι apply to both, to the Jews and Gentiles; but the latter has respect in its predominant reference to the Gentiles, who are ἄθεοι ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ (Ephesians 2:12), under the power of Satan, the ἄρχων τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, Ephesians 2:2.

τοῦ λαβεῖν αὐτοὺς ἄφεσινεἰς ἐμέ] This now contains the aim of τοῦ ἐπιστρέψαι κ. τ. λ., and so the ultimate aim of ἀνοῖξαι ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτῶν.

κλῆρον ἐν τοῖς ἡγιασμ.] See on Acts 20:32.

πίστει τῇ εἰς ἐμέ] belongs to λαβεῖν. Faith on Christ, as the subjective condition (causa apprehendens) of the forgiveness of sins and the attainment of the Messianic salvation, is with great emphasis placed at the close; the form also of the expression has weight.

Verse 19

Acts 26:19,(161) 20. ὅθεν] Hence (Matthew 14:7), namely, because such a glorious ministry has been promised to me.

οὐκ ἐγενόμην] i.e. non praestiti me. See Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. i. 7. 4.

Observe the address to the king, as at Acts 26:13 in the narrative of the emergence of the Christophany, so here immediately after its close; in both places, for the purpose of specially exciting the royal interest.

τῇ οὐρανίῳ ὀπτασίᾳ] the heavenly vision, because it came οὐρανόθεν (Acts 26:13).

εἰς πᾶσάν τε τὴν χώρ. τ. ἰουδ.] The statement is threefold: I preached, (1) to them in Damascus; (2) to the city Jerusalem ( ἱεροσολύμοις, simple dative, no longer dependent on ἐν), and unto all the land of Judaea ( εἰς, as in Luke 8:34, and frequently; see on Acts 9:28, Acts 23:11); (3) to the Gentiles.(162) Thus Paul indicates his whole ministry from his conversion till now (see Acts 26:21). Consequently there is here no contradiction with Galatians 1:22 (Zeller). It was also the interest of the apostle, persecuted by the Jews, to put his working for the Jews into the foreground. The shift to which Hofmann, l.c., resorts, that the apostle does not at all say that he has preached in all Judaea (he certainly does say so), but only that his preaching had sounded forth thither, is the less required, as he here summarily comprehends his whole Working.

πράσσοντας] accusative. See Bornemann, ad Xen. Anab. i. 2. 1; Kühner, ad Mem. i. 1. 9; Breitenb. ad Oecon. i. 4.

Paul certainly gives the contents of his preaching in a form reminding us of the preaching of the Baptist (Luke 3:8); but he thus speaks, because he stands before an assembly before which he had to express himself in the mode most readily understood by it, and after a type universally known and venerated, for the better disclosure of the injustice done to him ( ἕνεκα τούτων, Acts 26:21!); to set forth here the ΄υστήριον of his gospel, with which he filled up this form, would have been quite out of place. Without reason, Zeller and Baur (see also his neutest. Theol. p. 333) find here a denial of the doctrine of justification by faith alone; an opinion which ought to have been precluded by the very πίστει τῇ εἰς ἐμέ, Acts 26:18, which leaves no doubt as to what was in the mind of the apostle the specific qualification for ΄ετανοεῖν πράσσοντας.

Verse 21-22

Acts 26:21-22. ἕνεκα τούτων] because I have preached this μετανοεῖν and ἐπιστρέφειν among Jews and Gentiles.

διαχειρ.] Beza correctly explains: “manibus suis interficere” (see on Acts 5:30). Comp. Acts 21:30-31.

ἐπικουρίας οὖνθεοῦ] This οὖν infers from the preceding ἐπειρ. διαχειρ. that the ἕστηκα ἄχρι τῆς ἡμέρ. ταύτης is effected through help of God (without which no deliverance from such extreme danger to life could come). Observe withal the triumphant ἕστηκα, I stand, keep my ground!

μαρτυρούμενος μικρῷ τε καὶ μεγάλῳ] as one witnessed to by small and great, i.e. who has a good testimony from young and old (Acts 8:10). Accordingly, μαρτυρούμενος is to be taken quite regularly as passive, and that in its very current sense, as in Acts 6:3, Acts 10:22 al.; while μικρῷ and μεγάλῳ are the datives usual with the passive construction (see on Matthew 5:21), instead of which ὑπό is used in Acts 10:22, Acts 16:2, Acts 22:12. The usual rendering, following the Vulgate: witnessing to small and great,(163) i.e. “instituens omnis generis homines” (Kuinoel), arbitrarily assumes a deviation from linguistic usage, as μαρτυρεῖσθαι is always used passively (on which account, in 1 Thessalonians 2:12, the reading ΄αρτυρό΄ενοι is necessarily to be defended; see Lünemann in loc.). See Rinck, Lucubr. crit. p. 91, who, however (as also de Wette, Baumgarten, Ewald), declares for the reading μαρτυρόμ.; this, although strongly attested (see the critical remarks), is an old, hasty emendation, which was regarded as necessary to suit the dative. But in what a significant contrast to that deadly hatred of his enemies appears the statement (Acts 26:21): “By help of God I stand till this day, well attested by small and great! The following words then give the reason of this μαρτυρούμευος: because I set forth nothing else than what ( ὧν = τούτων ) the prophets, etc.

μελλόντων] On the attraction, see Lobeck, ad Aj. 1006; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 261 [E. T. 305]; and on the expression τὰ μέλλοντα γίνεσθαι, Jacobs, ad Philostr. p. 630.

Verse 23

is to be separated simply by a comma from the preceding: What the prophets and Moses have spoken concerning the future, whether (whether, namely) the Messiah is exposed to suffering, etc

Acts 26:23 is to be separated simply by a comma from the preceding: What the prophets and Moses have spoken concerning the future, whether (whether, namely) the Messiah is exposed to suffering, etc. Paul expresses himself in problematic form ( εἰ), because it was just the point of debate among the Jews whether a suffering Messiah was to be believed in (John 12:34), as in fact such an one constantly proved an offence unto them (1 Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 5:11). “Res erat liquida; Judaei in quaestionem vocarant,” Bengel. Paul in his preaching has said nothing else than what Moses and the prophets have spoken as the future state of the case on this point; he has propounded nothing new, nothing of his own invention, concerning it. παθητός, passibilis (Vulgate), not, however, in the metaphysical sense of susceptibility of suffering, but of the divine destination to suffering: subjected to suffering. Plut. Pelop. 16 : τὸ θνητὸν καὶ παθητὸν ἀποβαλόντας. The opposite ἀπαθής in classic writers since the time of Herodotus. Comp. Justin. c. Tryph. xxxvi. p. 133 D: παθητὸς χριστὸς προεφητεύθη μέλλειν εἶναι.

The other point of the predictions of Moses and the prophets, vividly introduced without a connecting particle, in respect of which Paul had just as little deviated from their utterances, is: whether the Messiah as the first from the resurrection of the dead (as the first for ever risen, as πρωτότοκος ἐκ τῶν νεκρῶν, Colossians 1:18; comp. 1 Corinthians 15:33) will proclaim light (as in Acts 26:18) to the (Jewish) people and to the Gentiles. The chief stress of this sentence lies on πρῶτος ἐξ ἀναστ. νεκρῶν; for, if this was, in accordance with the O.T., appropriated to the Messiah as characteristic, thereby the σκάνδαλον of the cross of Christ was removed. After His resurrection Jesus proclaimed light to all the Gentiles by His self-communication in the Holy Spirit (see on Ephesians 2:17), whose organs and mediate agents the apostles and their associates were. Comp. on Colossians 1:12.

Verse 24

Acts 26:24. While he was thus speaking in his defence, Festus said with a loud voice ( μεγ. τῇ φωνῇ, see on Acts 14:10), Thou art mad, Paul! ταῦτα is to be referred to the whole defence (as to ἀπολογ. τι, see on Luke 12:11), now interrupted by Festus (observe the present participle), but in which certainly the words spoken last ( οὐδὲν ἐκτὸς κ. τ. λ.) were most unpalatable to the cold-hearted statesman, and at length raised his impatience to the point of breaking out aloud. His profane mind remained unaffected by the holy inspiration of the strange speaker, and took his utterances as the whims of a mind perverted by much study from the equilibrium of a sound understanding. His μαίνῃ! was indignant earnestness; with all the more earnestness and bitterness he expressed the idea of eccentricity by this hyperbolical μαίνῃ, the more he now saw his hope of being enlightened as to the true state of matters grievously disappointed. Comp. Soph. O. R. 1300: τίς σʼ, τλῆμον, προσέβη μανία! That solicitude of the procurator (Acts 25:26), which naturally governed his tone of mind, was much too anxious and serious for a jest, such as Olshausen takes it to be. Nor does μεγάλῃ τῇ φωνῇ suit this, on which Chrysostom already correctly remarks: οὕτω ην κ. ὀργῆς φωνή. The explanation, thou art an enthusiast! is nothing but a mistaken softening of the expression. So Kuhn (in Wolf), Majus (Obss. IV. p. 11 ff.), Loesner, Schleusner, Dindorf. However the furor propheticus may be nourished by plunging into πολλὰ γράμματα, the μαίνῃ in this sense is far less suited to the indignation of the annoyed Roman; and that Paul regarded himself as declared by him to be a madman, is evident from Acts 26:25—( ἀληθείας κ. σωφροσ.).

τὰ πολλά σε γράμματα)] multae literae (Vulgate), the much knowledge, learning, with which thou busiest thyself. See on John 7:15. Not: the many books, which thou readest (Heinrichs, Kuinoel, Hildebrand), for, if so, we cannot see why the most naturally occurring word, βιβλία or βίβλοι, should not have been used.

The separation of πολλά from γράμ. by the interposition of σε puts the emphasis on πολλά. Bengel correctly adds: “Videbat Festus, naturam non agere in Paulo; gratiam non vidit.”

Verse 25

Acts 26:25. δέ] μετὰ ἐπιεικείας ἀποκρινόμενος, Chrysostom.

ἀληθείας κ. σωφροσ. ῥήματα] words, to which truth and intelligence (sound discretion) belong. ἀλήθεια may doubtless accompany enthusiastic utterance, but it is a characteristic opposed to madness. For passages in the classics where σωφροσύνη is opposed to μανία, see Elsner and Raphel. Plat. Prot. p. 323 B: ἐκεῖ σωφροσύνην ἡγοῦντο εἶναι τἀληθῆ λέγειν, ἐνταῦθα μανίαν. Comp. also Luke 8:35; 2 Corinthians 5:13.

ἀποφθέγγομαι] “aptum verbum,” Bengel. See on Acts 2:4.

Verse 26

Acts 26:26. In proof ( γάρ) that he spoke truly, and in his sound mind, Paul appeals to the knowledge of the king (in quo plus erat spei, Calvin).

περὶ τούτων and τι τούτων refer to what Paul had last said concerning the Messiah, which had overpowered the patience of Felix and drawn from him the μαίνῃ (comp. on ταῦτα, Acts 26:24). τοῦτο is the same, but viewed together as an historical unity. ἐπίσταμαι with περί is not found elsewhere in the N.T., but often in Greek writers.

οὐδέν] like nihil, in no respect; Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. vi. 6. 12. Taken as accusative of object, it would be inappropriate (on account of τί); hence A E א** min. omit it (so Lachmann and Bornemann), while, on the other hand, B has not τί.

Observe also the correlates ἐπίσταται and λανθάνειν placed at the beginning.

οὐἐν γωνίᾳ] A litotes: not in a corner ( ἐν κρυπτῷ), but publicly in the sacred capital of the nation. See examples in Wetstein.

Verse 27

Acts 26:27. Instead of adding to the “for this was not done in a corner” as a second reason, “and the prophets in whom the king believes have foretold it,” in the increased vehemence of his impassioned discourse (comp. Dissen, ad Dem. de cor. pp. 186, 346) Paul turns to the king with the question: Believest thou the prophets? and immediately himself answers the question with confidence: I know that thou believest! Thus with fervent earnestness he suddenly withdraws the sacred subject from merely objective contemplation, and brings it as a matter of conscience home to the king’s consciousness of faith. Paul could reasonably say without flattery, οἶδα, ὅτι πιστεύεις, since Agrippa, educated as a Jew, could not have belief in the truth of the prophecies otherwise than as a heritage of his national training, although it had in his case remained simply theory, and therefore the words of the apostle did not touch his heart, but glanced off on his polished and good-natured levity.

Verse 28

Acts 26:28. The king is of course well-meaning enough not to take amiss the burning words, but also, as a luxurious man of the world, sufficiently estranged from what is holy instantly to banish the transiently-felt impression with haughtily contemptuous mockery. The conduct of Pilate in John 18:38 is similar to this and to Acts 26:32.

ἐν ὀλίγῳ is to be taken as neuter, and without supplement, as in Ephesians 3:3 (see in loc.), namely: With little ( ἐν, instrumental) thou persuadest me to become a Christian! This sarcasm is meant to say: “Thus summarily, thus brevi manu, you will not manage to win me over to Christianity.” Appropriately, in substance, Oecumenius: ἐν ὀλίγῳ· τουτέστι διʼ ὀλίγων ῥημάτων, ἐν βραχέσι λόγοις, ἐν ὀλίγῃ διδασκαλίᾳ, χωρὶς πολλοῦ πόνου καὶ συνεχοὺς διαλέξεως. Most expositors either adopt the meaning (Calvin, Wetstein, Kuinoel, Olshausen, Neander, de Wette, Lange) sometimes with and sometimes without the supplement of χρόνῳ: in a short time (Pind. Pyth. viii. 131; Plat. Apol. p. 22 B and see the passages in Raphel, Polyb.; comp. the analogous διʼ ὀλίγου, Thuc. i. 77. 4, ii. 85. 2, iii. 43. 3; Schaefer, ad Bos. Ellips. pp. 101, 553; and see on Ephesians 3:3); or (Chrysostom, Valla, Luther, Castalio, Beza, Piscator, Grotius, Calovius, and others, to which also the modica ex parte of Erasmus comes in the end): propemodum, parum abest, quin. So also Ewald, who calls to his aid the בְּ of value (for a little, i.e. almost). But in opposition to the view which takes it temporally, may be decisively urged the reading μεγάλῳ, to be adopted instead of πολλῷ in Acts 26:29 (see the critical remarks), an expression which proves that Paul apprehended ἐν ὀλίγῳ in a quantitative sense; and there is no reason in the context for the idea (to which Calvin is inclined, following Chrysostom) that Paul took the word in one sense and the king in another. The same reason decides against the explanation propemodum, which also is not linguistically to be justified, for there must have been used either ὀλίγου (Plat. Prot. p. 361 C, Phaedr. p. 258 E Stallb. ad Plat. Rep. p. 563 B), or ὀλίγου δεῖ (Wolf, ad Dem. Lept. p. 238), or παρʼ ὀλίγον (Bernhardy, p. 258).

Lastly, that the words of the king are to be taken ironically, and not, with Heinrichs and many other expositors, as an earnest confession, is evident even from the very improbability in itself of such a confession in view of the luxurious levity of the king, as well as from the name χριστιανόν, which, of Gentile origin (see on Acts 11:26), carries with it in the mouth of a Jew the accessory idea of heterodoxy and the stain of contempt (1 Peter 4:16). Schneckenburger also would have the expression to be earnestly meant, but in favour of the apologetic design imputed to the Book of Acts.

Verse 29

Acts 26:29. In the full consciousness of his apostolic dignity, Paul now upholds the cause of the despised χριστιανὸν γενέσθαι as that which he would entreat from God for the king and all his present hearers, and which was thus more glorious than all the glory of the world.

εὐξαίμην ἂν τῷ θεῷ] I would indeed (in case of the state of the matter admitting it) pray to God. See on this use of the optative with ἄν, Fritzsche, Conject. I. p. 34 f.; Bernhardy, p. 410; Krüger, § 54, 3. 6. εὔχεσθαι; with the dative, to pray to any one, only here in the N.T., but very frequently in classical writers.

In what follows σήμερον belongs to τ. ἀκούοντάς μ., not to γενέσθαι (Chrysostom), as is to be inferred from ἐν μεγάλῳ.

καὶ ἐν ὀλίγῳ καὶ ἐν μεγάλῳ οὐ μόνον σὲ κ. τ. λ.] that as well by little as by great,—whether in the case of one, little (see on Acts 26:28), and in the case of another, much ( κόπος κ. πόνος ἐν τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ, Oecumenius, reading ἐν πολλῷ), may be employed as a means for the purpose,(164)not merely thou, but also allwere such also as I am (Christians). On κἀγώ, comp. 1 Corinthians 7:7; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 153.

παρεκτὸς τῶν δεσμῶν τούτων] The chains which had bound him in prison, and were again to bind him (comp. on Acts 24:23; Acts 24:27, Acts 28:30), chaining him, namely, after the manner of the custodia militaris to the soldiers who watched him, he bore now hanging down freely on his arm. Comp. Justin. xiv. 4, 1. The παρεκτὸς κ. τ. λ., although to the apostle his chains were an honour (Ephesians 3:1; Ephesians 4:1; Philemon 1:1. Comp. Philippians 2:17 f.), is “suavissima ἐπιθεραπεία et exceptio” (Bengel), in the spirit of love.

Verses 30-32

Acts 26:30-32. Perhaps this bold, grand utterance of the singular man had made an impression on the king’s heart, the concealment of which might have occasioned embarrassment to him, had he listened any longer: Agrippa arose and thereby brought the discussion at once to a close. With him arose, in the order of rank, first the procurator, then Bernice, then all who sat there with them ( οἱ συγκαθήμενοι αὐτοῖς). After they had retired from the audience chamber ( ἀναχωρήσαντες), they communicated to each other their unanimous opinion, which certainly amounted only to the superficial political negative: this man (certainly by the most regarded as a harmless enthusiast) practises nothing which merits death or bonds. But Agrippa delivered specially to Festus his opinion to this effect: this man might (already) have been set at liberty,(165) if he had not appealed unto Caesar (by which the sending him to Rome was rendered irreversible, see Grotius).

πράσσει] practises. Grotius rightly remarks: “agit de vitae institute:” hence in the present. Comp. John 3:20; Romans 1:32, al.; John 7:51.

The “recognition of the innocence of the apostle in all judicatures” (Zeller, comp. Baur) is intelligible enough from the truth of his character, and from the power of his appearance and address; and, in particular, the closing utterance of Agrippa finds its ground so vividly and with such internal truth in the course of the proceedings, that the imputation of a set purpose on the author’s part (“in order that, with the Gentile testimonies, Acts 25:18; Acts 25:25, a Jewish one might not be wanting,” Zeller) can only appear as a frivolously dogmatic opinion, proceeding from personal prepossessions tending in a particular direction. The apostle might at any rate be credited, even in his situation at that time, with an ἀπόδειξις πνείματος κ. δυνάμεως (1 Corinthians 2:4).


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Acts 26:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 26th, 2019
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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