Acts Chapter Twenty-six
Paul's address to king Agrippa furnishes us with the most complete picture of the entire position of the apostle, as he himself looked at it when his long service and the light of the Holy Ghost illuminated his backward glance.
He does not speak of the assembly-that was a doctrine for instruction, and not a part of his history. But everything that related to his personal history, in connection with his ministry, he gives in detail. He had been a strict Pharisee; and here he connects the doctrine of Christ with the hopes of the Jews. He was in bonds "for the hope of the promise made unto the fathers." No doubt resurrection entered into it. Why should the king think resurrection impossible, that God was not able to raise the dead? This brings him to another point. He had verily thought with himself that he ought to do many things against Jesus of Nazareth, and had carried them out with all the energy of his character, and with the bigotry of a devout Jew. His present condition, as a witness among the Gentiles, depended on the change wrought in him by the revelation of the Lord when he was engaged in seeking to destroy His name. Near Damascus a light brighter than the sun struck them all to the earth, and he alone heard the voice of the Righteous One, so that he knew from His own mouth that it was Jesus, and that He looked upon those who believed in Him as Himself. He could not resist such a testimony. But as this was the great grievance to the Jews, he shews that his own position was formally marked out by the Lord Himself. He was called to give ocular evidence of the glory which he had seen; that is, of Jesus in that glory; and of other things also, for the manifestation of which Jesus would again appear to him. A glorious Christ known (personally) only in heaven was the subject of the testimony committed to him. For this purpose He had set Paul apart from the Jews as much as from the Gentiles, his mission belonging immediately to heaven, having its origin there; and he was sent formally by the Lord of glory to the Gentiles, to change their position with respect to God through faith in this glorious Jesus, opening their eyes, bringing them out of darkness into light, from the power of Satan to God, and giving them an inheritance among the sanctified. This was a definite work. The apostle was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, and he had taught the Gentiles to turn to God, and to act as those who had done so. For this cause the Jews sought to kill him.
Nothing more simple, more truthful, than this history. It put the case of Paul and the conduct of the Jews in the clearest light. When called to order by Festus, who naturally thought it nothing more than irrational enthusiasm, he appeals with perfect dignity and quick discernment to Agrippa's knowledge of the facts upon which all this was based: for the thing had not been done in a corner.
Agrippa was not far from being convinced; but his heart was unchanged. The wish that Paul expresses brings the matter back to its moral reality. The meeting is dissolved. The king resumes his kingly place in courtesy and condescension, and the disciple that of a prisoner; but, whatever might be the apostle's position, we see in him a heart thoroughly happy and filled with the Spirit and love of God. Two years of prison had brought him no depression of heart or faith, but had only set him free from his harassing connection with the Jews, to give him moments spent with God.
Agrippa, surprised and carried away by Paul's clear and straightforward narrative,  relieves himself from the pressure of Paul's personal address by saying, 'In a little you are going to make a Christian of me.' Charity might have said, "Would to God that thou wert!" But there is a spring in the heart of Paul that does not stop there. "Would to God," says he, "that not only thou, but all those that hear me, were ... altogether such as I am, except these bonds!" What happiness and what love (and in God these two things go together) are expressed in these words! A poor prisoner, aged and rejected, at the end of his career he is rich in God. Blessed years that he had spent in prison! He could give himself as a model of happiness; for it filled his heart. There are conditions of soul which unmistakably declare themselves. And why should he not be happy? His fatigues ended, his work in a certain sense finished, he possessed Christ and in Him all things. The glorious Jesus, who had brought him into the pains and labour of the testimony, was now his possession and his crown. Such is ever the case. The cross in service-by virtue of what Christ is-is the enjoyment of all that He is, when the service is ended; and in some sort is the measure of that enjoyment. This was the case with Christ Himself, in all its fulness; it is ours, in our measure, according to the sovereign grace of God. Only Paul's expression supposes the Holy Ghost acting fully in the heart in order that it may be free to enjoy, and that the Spirit is not grieved.
A glorious Jesus-a Jesus who loved him, a Jesus who put the seal of His approbation and love upon his service, a Jesus who would take him to Himself in glory, and with whom he was one (and that known according to the abundant power of the Holy Ghost, according to divine righteousness), a Jesus who revealed the Father, and through whom he had the place of adoption-was the infinite source of joy to Paul, the glorious object of his heart and of his faith; and, being known in love, filled his heart with that love overflowing towards all men. What could he wish them better than to be as he was except his bonds? How, filled with this love, could he not wish it, or not be full of this large affection? Jesus was its measure.
 It is hardly to be read "almost." Relieving himself, Agrippa says, "You'll soon be making a Christian of me," covering his feelings, as I have said, by a slighting speech. But I have no doubt his mind was greatly wrought upon.
── John Darby《Synopsis of Acts》
Paul's defence before Agrippa. (1-11) His conversion and preaching to the Gentiles. (12-23) Festus and Agrippa convinced of Paul's innocence. (24-32)
Commentary on Acts 26:1-11
(Read Acts 26:1-11)
Christianity teaches us to give a reason of the hope that is in us, and also to give honour to whom honour is due, without flattery or fear of man. Agrippa was well versed in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, therefore could the better judge as to the controversy about Jesus being the Messiah. Surely ministers may expect, when they preach the faith of Christ, to be heard patiently. Paul professes that he still kept to all the good in which he was first educated and trained up. See here what his religion was. He was a moralist, a man of virtue, and had not learned the arts of the crafty, covetous Pharisees; he was not chargeable with any open vice and profaneness. He was sound in the faith. He always had a holy regard for the ancient promise made of God unto the fathers, and built his hope upon it. The apostle knew very well that all this would not justify him before God, yet he knew it was for his reputation among the Jews, and an argument that he was not such a man as they represented him to be. Though he counted this but loss, that he might win Christ, yet he mentioned it when it might serve to honour Christ. See here what Paul's religion is; he has not such zeal for the ceremonial law as he had in his youth; the sacrifices and offerings appointed by that, are done away by the great Sacrifice which they typified. Of the ceremonial cleansings he makes no conscience, and thinks the Levitical priesthood is done away in the priesthood of Christ; but, as to the main principles of his religion, he is as zealous as ever. Christ and heaven, are the two great doctrines of the gospel; that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. These are the matter of the promise made unto the fathers. The temple service, or continual course of religious duties, day and night, was kept up as the profession of faith in the promise of eternal life, and in expectation of it. The prospect of eternal life should engage us to be diligent and stedfast in all religious exercises. Yet the Sadducees hated Paul for preaching the resurrection; and the other Jews joined them, because he testified that Jesus was risen, and was the promised Redeemer of Israel. Many things are thought to be beyond belief, only because the infinite nature and perfections of Him that has revealed, performed, or promised them, are overlooked. Paul acknowledged, that while he continued a Pharisee, he was a bitter enemy to Christianity. This was his character and manner of life in the beginning of his time; and there was every thing to hinder his being a Christian. Those who have been most strict in their conduct before conversion, will afterwards see abundant reason for humbling themselves, even on account of things which they then thought ought to have been done.
Commentary on Acts 26:12-23
(Read Acts 26:12-23)
Paul was made a Christian by Divine power; by a revelation of Christ both to him and in him; when in the full career of his sin. He was made a minister by Divine authority: the same Jesus who appeared to him in that glorious light, ordered him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. A world that sits in darkness must be enlightened; those must be brought to know the things that belong to their everlasting peace, who are yet ignorant of them. A world that lies in wickedness must be sanctified and reformed; it is not enough for them to have their eyes opened, they must have their hearts renewed; not enough to be turned from darkness to light, but they must be turned from the power of Satan unto God. All who are turned from sin to God, are not only pardoned, but have a grant of a rich inheritance. The forgiveness of sins makes way for this. None can be happy who are not holy; and to be saints in heaven we must be first saints on earth. We are made holy, and saved by faith in Christ; by which we rely upon Christ as the Lord our Righteousness, and give up ourselves to him as the Lord our Ruler; by this we receive the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and eternal life. The cross of Christ was a stumbling-block to the Jews, and they were in a rage at Paul's preaching the fulfilling of the Old Testament predictions. Christ should be the first that should rise from the dead; the Head or principal One. Also, it was foretold by the prophets, that the Gentiles should be brought to the knowledge of God by the Messiah; and what in this could the Jews justly be displeased at? Thus the true convert can give a reason of his hope, and a good account of the change manifest in him. Yet for going about and calling on men thus to repent and to be converted, vast numbers have been blamed and persecuted.
Commentary on Acts 26:24-32
(Read Acts 26:24-32)
It becomes us, on all occasions, to speak the words of truth and soberness, and then we need not be troubled at the unjust censures of men. Active and laborious followers of the gospel often have been despised as dreamers or madmen, for believing such doctrines and such wonderful facts; and for attesting that the same faith and diligence, and an experience like their own, are necessary to all men, whatever their rank, in order to their salvation. But apostles and prophets, and the Son of God himself, were exposed to this charge; and none need be moved thereby, when Divine grace has made them wise unto salvation. Agrippa saw a great deal of reason for Christianity. His understanding and judgment were for the time convinced, but his heart was not changed. And his conduct and temper were widely different from the humility and spirituality of the gospel. Many are almost persuaded to be religious, who are not quite persuaded; they are under strong convictions of their duty, and of the excellence of the ways of God, yet do not pursue their convictions. Paul urged that it was the concern of every one to become a true Christian; that there is grace enough in Christ for all. He expressed his full conviction of the truth of the gospel, the absolute necessity of faith in Christ in order to salvation. Such salvation from such bondage, the gospel of Christ offers to the Gentiles; to a lost world. Yet it is with much difficulty that any person can be persuaded he needs a work of grace on his heart, like that which was needful for the conversion of the Gentiles. Let us beware of fatal hesitation in our own conduct; and recollect how far the being almost persuaded to be a Christian, is from being altogether such a one as every true believer is.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on Acts》
 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:
King Agrippa — There is a peculiar force in thus addressing a person by name. Agrippa felt this.
 Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.
Who art accurately acquainted — Which Festus was not; with the customs - In practical matters; and questions - In speculative. This word Festus had used in the absence of Paul, Acts 25:19, who, by the Divine leading, repeats and explains it. Agrippa had had peculiar advantages for an accurate knowledge of the Jewish customs and questions, from his education under his father Herod, and his long abode at Jerusalem. Nothing can be imagined more suitable or more graceful, than this whole discourse of Paul before Agrippa; in which the seriousness of the Christian, the boldness of the apostle, and the politeness of the gentleman and the scholar, appear in a most beautiful contrast, or rather a most happy union.
 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
From my youth, which was from the beginning — That is, which was from the beginning of my youth.
 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
If they would testify — But they would not, for they well knew what weight his former life must add to his present testimony.
 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
And now — This and the two following verses are in a kind of Acts 26:6,7,8 parenthesis, and show that what the Pharisees rightly taught concerning the resurrection, Paul likewise asserted at this day. The ninth verse is connected with the fifth. For Pharisaism Acts 26:9,5 impelled him to persecute.
I stand in judgment for the hope of the promise — Of the resurrection. So it was in effect. For unless Christ had risen, there could have been no resurrection of the dead. And it was chiefly for testifying the resurrection of Christ, that the Jews still persecuted him.
 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
Worshipping continually night and day — That is, this is what they aim at in all their public and private worship.
 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?
Is it judged by you an incredible thing — It was by Festus, Acts 25:19, to whom Paul answers as if he had heard him discourse.
 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
I thought — When I was a Pharisee: that I ought to do many things - Which he now enumerates.
 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
I shut up many of the saints — Men not only innocent, but good, just, holy.
I gave my vote against them — That is, I joined with those who condemned them. Perhaps the chief priests did also give him power to vote on these occasions.
 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
I compelled them — That is, some of them; to blaspheme - This is the most dreadful of all! Repent, ye enemies of the Gospel. If Spira, who was compelled, suffered so terribly, what will become of those who compel, like Saul, but do not repent like him.
 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
O King — Most seasonably, in the height of the narration, does he thus fix the king's attention.
Above the brightness of the sun — And no marvel. For what is the brightness of this created sun, to the Sun of righteousness, the brightness of the Father's glory?
 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
In the Hebrew tongue — St. Paul was not now speaking in Hebrew: when he was, Acts 23:7, he did not add, In the Hebrew tongue. Christ used this tongue both on earth and from heaven.
 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
Delivering thee from the people — The Jews and the Gentiles, to whom, both Jews and Gentiles, I now send thee - Paul gives them to know, that the liberty he enjoys even in bonds, was promised to him, as well as his preaching to the Gentiles. I, denotes the authority of the sender. Now, the time whence his mission was dated. For his apostleship, as well as his conversion, commenced at this moment.
 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
To open — He opens them, who sends Paul; and he does it by Paul who is sent; their eyes - Both of the Jews and Gentiles: that they may turn - Through the power of the Almighty, from the spiritual darkness wherein they were involved, to the light of Divine knowledge and holiness, and from the power of Satan, who now holds them in sin, guilt, and misery, to the love and happy service of God: that they may receive through faith - (He seems to place the same blessings in a fuller light,) pardon, holiness, and glory.
 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
From that time — Having received power to obey, I was not disobedient - I did obey, I used that power, Galatians 1:16. So that even this grace whereby St Paul was influenced was not irresistible.
 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
I declared — From that hour to this, both to Jew and Gentile, that they should repent - This repentance, we may observe, is previous both to inward and outward holiness.
 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.
For these things — The apostle now applies all that he had said.
 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
Having obtained help from God — When all other help failed, God sent the Romans from the castle, and so fulfilled the promise he had made, Acts 26:17.
 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
Festus said, Paul, thou art beside thyself — To talk of men's rising from the dead! And of a Jew's enlightening not only his own nation, but tho polite and learned Greeks and Romans! Nay, Festus, it is thou that art beside thyself. That strikest quite wide of the mark. And no wonder: he saw that nature did not act in Paul; but the grace that acted in him he did not see. And therefore he took all this ardour which animated the apostle for a mere start of learned phrensy.
 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
I am not mad, most excellent Festus — The style properly belonging to a Roman propretor. How inexpressibly beautiful is this reply! How strong! yet how decent and respectful! Mad men seldom call men by their names, and titles of honour. Thus also St. Paul refutes the charge. But utter the words of truth (confirmed in the next verse) and sobriety - The very reverse of madness. And both these remain, even when the men of God act with the utmost vehemence.
 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.
For the king knoweth of these things — St. Paul having refuted Festus, pursues his purpose, returning naturally, and as it were, step by step, from Festus to Agrippa.
To whom I speak with freedom — This freedom was probably one circumstance which Festus accounted madness.
 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? — He that believes these, believes Paul, yea, and Christ. The apostle now comes close to his heart. What did Agrippa feel when he heard this? I know that thou believest! - Here Paul lays so fast hold on the king that he can scarce make any resistance.
 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian! — See here, Festus altogether a heathen, Paul alogether a Christian, Agrippa halting between both. Poor Agrippa! But almost persuaded! So near the mark, and yet fall short! Another step, and thou art within the vail. Reader, stop not with Agrippa; but go on with Paul.
 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.
I would to God — Agrippa had spoke of being a Christian, as a thing wholly in his own power. Paul gently corrects this mistake; intimating, it is the gift and the work of God; that all that hear me - It was modesty in St. Paul, not to apply directly to them all; yet he looks upon them and observes them; were such as I am - Christians indeed; full of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. He speaks from a full sense of his own happiness, and an overflowing love to all.
 And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:
And as he said this, the king rose up — An unspeakably precious moment to Agrippa. Whether he duly improved it or no, we shall see in that day.
 And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.
This man doth nothing worthy of death, or of bonds — They speak of his whole life, not of one action only. And could ye learn nothing more than this from that discourse? A favourable judgment of such a preacher, is not all that God requires.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on Acts》
Chapter 26. King Agrippa
Darkness to Light
Turn from the Power of Satan to God
I. Testify to Agrippa
II. Vision from Heaven
III. Agrippa not Persuaded
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
Ⅰ. Conversion of Paul. The Apostle tells Agrippa what he was when in his natural state; namely, a self-righteous Pharisee (verse 5), an opponent to Jesus (verse 9), a persecutor of the saints (verse 10), a misguided man in obeying the priests (verse 10), an inflicter of punishment upon God’s people (verse 11), an instrument in the hands of Satan in causing some of the disciples of Christ to blaspheme (verse 11), and a fanatic, in that he was “ exceedingly mad” in his unholy service (verse 11); but a vision of Christ in His holiness caused him to see his sinfulness. It was Paul’s obedience to the heavenly vision that was the pivot upon which the persecutor became the pleader with God and men (verse 19).
Ⅱ. Commission of Paul. Being saved through Christ he was next sent by Christ to preach the Gospel. We are saved to serve, we do not serve to be saved. Paul was sent to accomplish a fivefold purpose in the power of the Holy Spirit (verse 18).
Revelation. “ Open their eyes.”
Repentance. “ Turn from darkness to light.”
Release. “ From the power of Satan unto God.”
Remission. “ Receive forgiveness of sin.”
Riches. “ Inheritance.”
All these blessings are bestowed upon those who have faith in Christ.
Ⅲ. Consecration of Paul. “I was not disobedient,” ＆c.(ver.19). Obedience is the law of the Kingdom of Grace.
Ⅳ. Continuance of Paul. (verse 22). The Apostle tells us the secret of his continuance: it was because he obtained (not attained) help from God. Obtainment is the secret of attainment. Mark that the Apostle obtained help for a specific object, 6z., that he might witness to and of the things in the Scriptures.
Ⅴ. Creed of Paul (verse 23). He believed in the sufferings of Christ for the sins of man, and in the resurrection of Christ for the justification of the believer (Rom.4:25).
Ⅵ. Calmness of Paul (verse 25). Festus thinks that Paul is mad as he listens to the earnest and burning words which fall from his lips, and tells him so; but, as the Apostle says, he is perfectly cool and calm , and speaks froth “ the words of truth and soberness.”
Ⅶ. Courage of Paul (verse 26). The Apostle does not hesitate to tell King Agrippa that he knew what he was speaking about, and then begins to put pointed questions to him. Courage is one of the fruits of the filling of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31).
── F.E. Marsh《Five Hundred Bible Readings》