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Ac 26:1-32. PAUL'S DEFENSE OF HIMSELF BEFORE KING AGRIPPA, WHO PRONOUNCES HIM INNOCENT, BUT CONCLUDES THAT THE APPEAL TO CÆSAR MUST BE CARRIED OUT.
This speech, though in substance the same as that from the fortress stairs of Jerusalem (Ac 22:1-29), differs from it in being less directed to meet the charge of apostasy from the Jewish faith, and giving more enlarged views of his remarkable change and apostolic commission, and the divine support under which he was enabled to brave the hostility of his countrymen.
3. I know thee to be expert, &c.--His father was zealous for the
law, and he himself had the office of president of the temple and its
treasures, and the appointment of the high priest
4, 5. from my youth, which was at the first . . . at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; which knew me from the beginning--plainly showing that he received his education, even from early youth, at Jerusalem. See on Ac 22:3.
5. if they would--"were willing to"
6, 7. I . . . am judged for the hope of the promise made . . . to our fathers--"for believing that the promise of Messiah, the Hope of the Church (Ac 13:32; 28:20) has been fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth risen from the dead."
7. Unto which promise--the fulfilment of it.
8. Why should it be thought a thing incredible . . . that God should raise the dead?--rather, "Why is it judged a thing incredible if God raises the dead?" the case being viewed as an accomplished fact. No one dared to call in question the overwhelming evidence of the resurrection of Jesus, which proclaimed Him to be the Christ, the Son of God; the only way of getting rid of it, therefore, was to pronounce it incredible. But why, asks the apostle, is it so judged? Leaving this pregnant question to find its answer in the breasts of his audience, he now passes to his personal history.
16-18. But rise, &c.--Here the apostle appears to condense into one
statement various sayings of his Lord to him in visions at different
times, in order to present at one view the grandeur of the commission
with which his Master had clothed him [ALFORD].
17. Delivering thee from the people--the Jews.
18. To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to
light--rather, "that they may turn" (as in
that is, as the effect of their eyes being opened. The whole passage
19-21. Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision--This musical and elevated strain, which carries the reader along with it, and doubtless did the hearers, bespeaks the lofty region of thought and feeling to which the apostle had risen while rehearsing his Master's communications to him from heaven.
20. showed . . . to them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem--omitting
Arabia; because, beginning with the Jews, his object was to mention
first the places where his former hatred of the name of Christ was best
known: the mention of the Gentiles, so unpalatable to his audience, is
reserved to the last.
22, 23. having obtained help--"succor."
23. That Christ should suffer, &c.--The construction of this sentence implies that in regard to the question "whether the Messiah is a suffering one, and whether, rising first from the dead, he should show light to the (Jewish) people and to the Gentiles," he had only said what the prophets and Moses said should come.
24. Festus said with a loud voice--surprised and bewildered.
25, 26. I am not mad, most noble Festus, but, &c.--Can anything surpass this reply, for readiness, self-possession, calm dignity? Every word of it refuted the rude charge, though Festus, probably, did not intend to hurt the prisoner's feelings.
26. the king knoweth, &c.--(See on Ac 26:1-3).
27-29. believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest--The courage and confidence here shown proceeded from a vivid persuasion of Agrippa's knowledge of the facts and faith in the predictions which they verified; and the king's reply is the highest testimony to the correctness of these presumptions and the immense power of such bold yet courteous appeals to conscience.
28. Almost--or, "in a little time."
29. I would to God, &c.--What unequalled magnanimity does this speech
breathe! Only his Master ever towered above this.
30-32. when he had thus spoken, the king rose--not over-easy, we may be sure.
32. This man might have been set at liberty if he had not appealed to Cæsar--It would seem from this that such appeals, once made, behooved to be carried out.