The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Acts 26

Act 26:1

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."

Act 26:4

EVER SINCE I WAS A CHILD: From his earliest years, Saul of Tarsus had been marked out for special office and honors.

Act 26:5

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.

Act 26:6

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.

Act 26:8

See VL, Christ's resurrection, reality.

THE DEAD: Plural: ref to saints in Christ.

Act 26:9

Vv 9-18: Paul's amazing conversion argues for a miraculous and divinely-established conviction.

Act 26:10

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).

Act 26:14

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 could not.

'How long, Saul, will you resist my appeal to repent of your own pride and self-righteousness, and find true peace in me?'

Act 26:16

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).

Act 26:18

// Isa 29:18; 32:3; 35:5; 42:7; 43:8; and Isa 9:2; 49:6; 60:1-3.

SATAN: In this context, sig: (a) idols: 1Th 1:6-10); (b) ignorance, vanity, and lusts: Eph 4:17-20.

Act 26:19

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).

Act 26:21

THAT IS WHY: That is, because I accorded the Gentiles equal treatment with the Jews.

Act 26:22

See VL, Christ's resurrection, reality.

Act 26:23

AS THE FIRST TO RISE FROM THE DEAD: Thus giving proof of his divine Sonship: Rom 1:4.

Act 26:25

Vv 25,26: 'I would expect you, Festus, to be confused... but the king here understands what I am talking about!'

Act 26:28

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).

Act 26:29

"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).

Act 26:30

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!

Act 26:31

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.

Act 26:32

"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 announcement?
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