Act 26: "When Paul appeared before Agrippa, he pleaded: (a) A
changed life: vv 4-7. (b) An appeal to reason: v 8. (c) The renowned persecutor:
vv 9-12. (d) A witness for Christ: vv 13-20. (e) The record of the persecuted:
vv 21-23. (f) The Interruption as Paul appeals to Agrippa: vv 24-29. Here is
displayed the fervency of the great apostle for the things of the Truth,
notwithstanding that it brought indictment by his contemporaries, lies from his
enemies, and intimidation from the authorities. Paul continued his service to
his Master, and will ultimately find himself vindicated before all his
opponents. What a grand association we are privileged to enjoy with such a high
and spiritual man!" (GEM).
Paul did not need to defend himself, since he had already
appealed to Caesar and thus was out of their hands. But this was an opportunity
to preach to them, and Paul seized it. Cp Christ's words in Act 9:15: "This man
is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and
before the people of Israel."
EVER SINCE I WAS A CHILD: From his earliest years, Saul
of Tarsus had been marked out for special office and honors.
A LONG TIME: "Anothen" = either "from the top" (ie
beginning) or "again". Is this a correct translation? Or did Paul mean that Jews
from the highest rank (ie, "from above") knew him as full of promise?
RELIGION: "Threskeia": ceremonies of worship. Occurs
also in Col 2:18; Jam 2:16,17.
Promises concerning Abraham: Gen 12:1-3; 13:14-18; David: 2Sa
7:12-14; restoration of Israel: Ezek 37, etc. The Kingdom will be set up on
earth: Lord's prayer: Mat 6:10; Dan 2:35,44; Isa 2:2-4.
Vv 9-18: Paul's amazing conversion argues for a miraculous and
I CAST MY VOTE AGAINST THEM: Literally, "I paid down a
pebble (psephon) against them." Paul is referring to the black pebble of guilt
or condemnation, in contrast to the white pebble of innocence or acquittal --
which is referred to in Rev 2:17: "He who has an ear, let him hear what the
Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the
hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it,
known only to him who receives it."
"It was the custom, in the days of the Apostles, to vote in
judicial trials with either a white or black pebble; the former for acquittal
and the latter for condemnation, From this ancient custom there has arisen the
saying that one has been 'black-balled'... A white stone was also the symbol of
victory in the Grecian games. Thus, in the Apocalypse the white stone represents
victory and acquittal at the Judgement Seat" (ApEp).
In this chapter Paul reveals details of his conversion
experience on the road to Damascus which were not mentioned in the historical
account of Acts 9: "We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me
in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick
against the goads' " (Acts 26:14).
This last statement of the Lord is very interesting; its
meaning turns on the precise definitions of two words: (1) "Kick" is "laktizo":
literally, it means "to lift up the heel": the Greek word occurs only here and
Acts 9:5. (The Acts 9:5 word occurs only in KJV, but not NIV and other
translations: it is probably an interpolation, or borrowing, from Acts 26:14.)
(2) "Goads" is literally "pricks" (Greek "kentron": a point, a sting). It occurs
elsewhere in NT: 1Co 15:55,56; Rev 9:10.
Thus, taken together, the statement might be translated: "It
is hard for you to lift up your heel against the sting of the serpent!" Now this
may be seen as an obvious allusion to Gen 3:15. The Pharisee Saul of Tarsus,
zealous for the Law, had sought to conquer the sin-power through personal
effort, but inevitably he failed -- as all men must! Only the Lord Jesus Christ
could successfully destroy the serpent-power of sin (Gen 3:15), either for
himself or for others!
Such an allusion, from Christ, implies that the young man Saul
must have felt, for some time, an uneasiness in attacking Christianity -- having
realized that he had not been able to, nor could he ever by his own strength,
resist the power of sin successfully... but that this man Jesus had done what he
'How long, Saul, will you resist my appeal to repent of your
own pride and self-righteousness, and find true peace in me?'
A WITNESS OF WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN OF ME: Did Paul know
Jesus during his ministry? Consider the qualifications of an apostle: to have
seen Jesus in the flesh (Act 1:21,22).
// Isa 29:18; 32:3; 35:5; 42:7; 43:8; and Isa 9:2; 49:6;
SATAN: In this context, sig: (a) idols: 1Th 1:6-10);
(b) ignorance, vanity, and lusts: Eph 4:17-20.
I WAS NOT DISOBEDIENT: "It is a mistake to hamper the
question of duty with any secondary consideration whatever. The time has not
come for the saints to keep the world right. It has to be made right before even
keeping it right can be in question. The position of the saints is that of
sojourners on trial for eternal life. God will take care that their probation is
not interfered with by murder and violence before the time. The matter is His.
We are in His hands: so is all the world. We need not therefore be distressed by
thoughts of what will be the effect of any course required by Christ. He will
take care that His work comes out right at last. The simple and only question
for us, is that which Paul put near Damascus: 'Lord, what wouldst Thou have me
to do?' We may not do what involves disobedience to Him" (XdmAst 305).
THAT IS WHY: That is, because I accorded the Gentiles
equal treatment with the Jews.
AS THE FIRST TO RISE FROM THE DEAD: Thus giving proof
of his divine Sonship: Rom 1:4.
Vv 25,26: 'I would expect you, Festus, to be confused... but
the king here understands what I am talking about!'
DO YOU THINK THAT IN SUCH A SHORT TIME YOU CAN PERSUADE ME
TO BE A CHRISTIAN?: "Paul's direct question embarrassed Agrippa. He had his
reputation to maintain before Festus and the other dignitaries. Whatever he may
have thought about Paul's message personally, he was too worldly-wise to commit
himself in public to what others thought was madness. So he parried Paul's
question with his own clever, though rather inane, one: 'Do you think that in
such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?' The adjective 'oligos'
often has reference to quantity and here could mean 'with such few words' or
'with such a brief argument.' But it is also used with the preposition 'en'
('in') to denote duration. And this is how NIV rightly translates it here -- 'in
such a short time' (so also RSV and TEV). The KJV's translation of Agrippa's
reply to Paul, 'ALMOST thou persuadest me to be a Christian', has become one of
the famous quotations in history. Countless sermons have been preached on it and
a gospel hymn inspired by it. Nevertheless, it is not what Agrippa said, nor is
the KJV's translation of v 29 what Paul said" (EBC).
CHRISTIAN: This is the Greek name for a follower of
Jesus Christ. The Jews called them "Nazarenes" (Acts 24:5).
"Courageous, faithful, and wonderful words... they testified
that Paul that saw beyond his trials to the glorious reality of the kingdom of
God... He was more illustrious than any of his judges in that court, wiser than
the greatest of them, and for all his poverty, in possession of riches such as
they would never attain" (SB 14:95).
THE KING ROSE: Herod, seemingly embarrassed and afraid
of further discussion with Paul, abruptly terminates the "entertainment". The
would-be judge had found himself in the witness box!
THIS MAN IS NOT DOING ANYTHING THAT DESERVES DEATH OR
IMPRISONMENT: This counsel, probably sent to Rome along with Paul, would aid
him in receiving a better hearing and more lenient treatment.
"Not guilty!" The verdict of Agrippa (here), Lysias (Acts
23:29), and Festus (Acts 25:25). How would this opinion be known? By a public