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1: And Paul stretching forth his hand - Chained as it was: a
decent expression of his own earnestness, and proper to engage
the attention of his hearers; answered for himself - Not only
refuting the accusations of the Jews, but enlarging upon the
faith of the Gospel.
2: King Agrippa - There is a peculiar force in thus addressing
a person by name. Agrippa felt this.
3: 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, (Ac 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.
4: From my youth, which was from the beginning - That is, which
was from the beginning of my youth.
5: If they would testify - But they would not, for they well knew
what weight his former life must add to his present testimony.
6: And now - This and the two following verses are in a kind of(Ac 26:6-8)
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(Ac 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.
7: Our twelve tribes - For a great part of the ten tribes also had
at various times returned from the east to their own country,(Jam 1:1,1Pe 1:1).
Worshipping continually night and day - That is, this is what
they aim at in all their public and private worship.
8: Is it judged by you an incredible thing - It was by Festus,(Ac 25:19), to whom Paul answers as if he had heard him
9: I thought - When I was a Pharisee: that I ought to do many
things - Which he now enumerates.
10: 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.
11: 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.
12: (Ac 9:2).
13: 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
14: In the Hebrew tongue - St. Paul was not now speaking
in Hebrew: when he was, (Ac 23:7), he did not add,
In the Hebrew tongue. Christ used this tongue both on
earth and from heaven.
17: 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.
18: 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,
19: From that time - Having received power to obey,
I was not disobedient - I did obey, I used that power,(Ga 1:16). So that even this grace whereby St Paul
was influenced was not irresistible.
20: 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.
21: For these things - The apostle now applies all that he had said.
22: 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, (Ac 26:17).
24: 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.
25: 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.
26: 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
27: 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.
28: 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.
29: 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.
30: 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.
31: 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