Verse 32. "Then said Agrippa, &c." - The king himself, who had participated in the strongest emotions on the occasion, feels himself prompted to wish the apostle's immediate liberation; but this was now rendered impracticable, because he had appealed to Caesar; the appeal was no doubt registered, and the business must now proceed to a full hearing.
Bp. Pearce conjectures, with great probability, that Agrippa, on his return to Rome, represented Paul's case so favourably to the emperor, or his ministers of state, that he was soon set at liberty there, as may be concluded from chap. xxviii. 30, that he dwelt two whole years in his own hired place; and to the same cause it seems to have been owing that Julius, who had the care of Paul as a prisoner in the ship, treated him courteously; see chap. xxvii. 3, 43. And the same may be gathered from chap. xxviii. 14, 16. So that this defense of the apostle before Agrippa, Bernice, Festus, &c., was ultimately serviceable to his important cause.
1. THE conversion of Saul was a wonderful work of the Spirit of God; and, as we have already seen, a strong proof of the truth of Christianity; and the apostle himself frequently appeals to it as such.
2. His mission to the Gentiles was as extraordinary as the calling of the Gentiles itself. Every thing is supernatural in a work of grace; for, because nature cannot produce the effects, the grace of God, which implies the co-operation of his omniscience, omnipotence, and endless mercy, undertakes to perform the otherwise impossible task.
3. From the commission of St. Paul, we see the state in which the Gentile world was, previously to the preaching of the Gospel.
1. Their eyes are represented as closed; their understanding was darkened; and they had no right apprehension of spiritual or eternal things.
2. They were in a state of darkness; living without the knowledge of the true God, in a region where nothing but ignorance prevailed.
3. They were under the dominion and authority of Satan; they were his vassals, and he claimed them as his right.
4. They were in a state of guiltiness; living, in almost every respect, in opposition to the dictates even of nature itself.
5. They were polluted; not only irregular and abominable in their lives, but also impure and unholy in their hearts. Thus far their state.
Behold what the grace of the Gospel is to do for these Gentiles, in order to redeem them from this state: - 1. It opens their eyes; gives them an understanding, whereby they may discern the truth; and, without this illumination from above, the truth of God can never be properly apprehended.
2. It turns them from the darkness to the light; a fine metaphor, taken from the act of a blind man, who is continually turning his eyes towards the light, and rolling his eyes upwards towards the sun, and in all directions, that he may collect as many of the scattered rays as he can, in order to form distinct vision. In this way the Gentiles appeared to be, in vain, searching after the light, till the Gospel came, and turned their eyes to the Sun of righteousness.
3. They are brought from under the bondage and slavery of sin and Satan, to be put under the obedience of Jesus Christ. So that Christ and his grace as truly and as fully rule and govern them as sin and Satan did formerly.
This is a proof that the change is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord.
4. He pardons their sin, so that they are no longer liable to endless perdition.
5. He sanctifies their nature, so that they are capable of loving and serving him fervently with pure hearts; and are thus rendered fit for the enjoyment of the inheritance among the saints in light.
Such a salvation, from such a bondage, does the Gospel of Christ offer to the Gentiles-to a lost world. It is with extreme difficulty that any person can be persuaded that he needs a similar work of grace on his heart to that which was necessary for the conversion of the Gentiles. We may rest assured that no man is a Christian merely by birth or education. If Christianity implies the life of God in the soul of man -the remission of sins-the thorough purification of the heart, producing that holiness without which none can see the Lord, then it is evident that God alone can do this work, and that neither birth nor education can bestow it. By birth, every man is sinful; by practice, every man is a transgressor; for all have sinned.
God alone, by faith in Christ Jesus, can save the sinner from his sins.
Reader, has God saved thee from this state of wretchedness, and brought thee "into the glorious liberty of his children?" Let thy conscience answer for itself.