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Bible Commentaries

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

Acts 26



Verse 1

1. ἀπελογεῖτο, made his defence. The verb is the same as before (Acts 19:33; Acts 24:10; Acts 25:8), and intimates that what is coming is an apologia. St Luke here as in other places notices the gesture of the speaker (ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα).

Verses 1-23


Verse 2

2. ἥγημαι ἐμαυτὸν μακάριον, I think myself happy. Because Agrippa was sure to understand much of the feeling imported into the case which would be entirely obscure to a Roman magistrate. Paul would thus be able to make his position clear, and get it explained through Agrippa to the Roman authorities.

ἐπὶ σοῦ, before thee. So Acts 24:19, and frequently in N.T. ἐπί with genitive in this sense is also found in classical Greek, but not so commonly with a personal pronoun. For an example of the use, cf. Acta Pauli et Theclæ, 16, εἰπάτω ἐπὶ σοῦ τίνος ἔνεκεν ταῦτα διδάσκει.

Verse 3

3. μάλιστα γνώστην ὄντα σε, especially because thou art expert. Some have joined μάλιστα with γνέστην, ‘because thou art especially expert.’ But there is nothing to shew that this was so. He knew, as other Jews knew, the character and meaning of Jewish customs, but nothing more.

γνώστης is used most frequently in the LXX. of those diviners and dealers with familiar spirits spoken of in the historical books. Cf. 1 Samuel 28:3; 1 Samuel 28:9; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Kings 23:24. Also in Susanna, v. 42, we have ὁ θεὸς αἰώνιος ὁ τῶν κρυπτῶν γνώστης.

Here Chrysostom says: καίτοιγε εἰ συνῄδει ἑαυτῷ φοβηθῆναι ἐχρῆν παρὰ τῷ πάντα εἰδότι δικαζόμενον. ἀλλὰ καθαροῦ συνειδότος τοῦτό ἐστι, τὸ μὴ παραιτεῖσθαι δικαστὴν τὸν ἀκριβῶς εἰδότα τὰ γεγεννημὲνα, ἀλλὰ καὶ χαίρειν.

τῶν κατὰ Ἰουδαίους ἐθῶν, of customs which are among the Jews. For this adjectival use of κατὰ followed by a noun or pronoun, cf. οἱ καθ' ὑμᾶς ποιηταί (Acts 17:28).

μακροθύμως, patiently. Only here in N.T., and not found in LXX. though μακρόθυμος is very common there.

Verse 4

4. τὴν μὲν οὖν βίωσίν μου, now my manner of life. βίωσις is only found here in N.T. and nowhere in profane authors. We have the word in the prologue to Ecclus., ὅπωςἐπιπροσθῶσι διὰ τῆς ἐννόμου βίωσεως, ‘that … they may profit in living according to the Law.’ This is said of exactly such a life as St Paul led before his conversion.

ἀπ' ἀρχῆς, from the beginning. The Apostle though born in Tarsus yet came early to Jerusalem for his education, and it was in the Holy City that his character was formed and his manner of life shewed itself.

ἔν τε Ἱεροσολύμοις, and at Jerusalem. This addition of τε implies that even before coming to Jerusalem the Apostle had always dwelt among his own people, and so was not likely to be one who would undervalue Jewish privileges or offend against Jewish prejudices.

ἴσασι πάντες οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι, know all the Jews. Because in the persecutions of the Christians Saul had made himself a conspicuous character, and so had been in favour with the chief priests and allowed to undertake the mission to Damascus.

Verse 5

5. προγινώσκοντές με ἄνωθεν, ἐὰν θώλωσι μαρτυρεῖν, having knowledge of me from the first, if they be willing to testify. ἄνωθεν is found Luke 1:3, where the Evangelist is describing his perfect understanding of the Gospel story ‘from the very first.’ When we remember that the early part of his Gospel can hardly have been gathered from anybody but the Virgin Mary, who alone could know many of the details, we may well think that the word ἄνωθεν here implies that St Paul had been known from his very childhood. The rest of the sentence seems to intimate that there were some among those who were now his accusers who could give evidence about his previous years if they were so minded.

κατὰ τὴν ἀκριβεστάτην αἵρεσιν, after the straitest sect. αἵρεσις in the singular = sect, as it is rendered everywhere in the Acts (in A.V.) except Acts 25:14. In the Epistles where the plural only occurs it is ‘heresies.’

τῆς ἡμετέρας θρησκείας, of our religion. θρησκεία refers more especially to the outward marks of religious observance or life. Thus it would describe well the ceremonial for which the Pharisees were specially distinguished. In the LXX. it is only used of the worship of idols. See Wisdom of Solomon 14:18; Wisdom of Solomon 14:27.

Verse 6

6. καὶ νῦνἕστηκα κρινόηενος, and now I stand here to be judged, i.e. I am on my trial.

ἐπ' ἐλπίδι τῆς εἰς τοὺς πατέρας ἡμῶν ἐπαγγελίας κ.τ.λ., for the hope of the promise made by God unto our fathers, i.e. because I entertain the hope that the promise which God made to the patriarchs and to David shall be fulfilled to us. The ‘promise’ must be of the Messiah, and of His coming into the world as King. For this is what the ten tribes were looking for. But this in St Paul’s view embraced the doctrine of the Resurrection, because that was God’s assurance to the world (Acts 17:31) that He who was so raised up was to be the judge of quick and dead.

Verse 7

7. εἰς ἥν, unto which (promise). This makes it clear that the promise was the sending of the Messiah, that in Him all the families of the earth should be blessed.

τὸ δωδεκαφυλον ἡμῶν, our twelve tribes. For the word see Protev. Jacobi chap. i. ἀπίει εἰς τὴν δωδεκάφυλον τοῦ λαοῦ.

The Jews regarded themselves as representing the whole race, and not merely the two tribes of the kingdom of Judah, and this no doubt was true, for tribal names continued to be preserved, and with the people of Judah there came back many of the members of the previous captivity of Israel. Thus in the N.T. we find (Luke 2:36) that Anna was of the tribe of Asher, and St James addresses his Epistle (Acts 1:1) ‘to the twelve tribes that are scattered abroad’; and Paul himself knew that he was of the tribe of Benjamin. Cf. also 2 Chronicles 31:1 for evidence of the existence of some of the ten tribes after the Captivity. In T. B. Berachoth 20 a Rabbi Jochanan says ‘I am from the root of Joseph.’

ἐν ἐκτενεία, earnestly. The expression ἐν ἐκτενείᾳ μεγάλῃ is found twice in Judith 4:9, rendered in A.V. [1] ‘with great fervency’ and [2] ‘with great vehemency.’

περὶ ἧς ἐλπίδος, for which hope’s sake, i.e. because I entertain it and press it upon others.

ἑγκαλοῦμαι ὑπὸ Ἰουδαίων, I am accused by Jews, members of the twelve tribes to whom the promise was made. Thus Paul brings out the inconsistency of the situation.

Verse 8

8. τί ἄπιστον κρίνεται παρ' ὑμῖν εἰ ὁ θεὸς νεκροὺς ἐγείρει; why is it judged incredible with you if God doth raise the dead? The last clause is not to be understood hypothetically, but ‘If God doth, as He hath done in the case of Jesus.’ So that it is equivalent to ‘Why should you not believe that Jesus has been raised from the dead?’

Chrysostom points out that the strange thing was that the doctrine was not believed: εἰ γὰρ μὴ τοιαύτη δόξα ἦν, εἰ γὰρ μὴ ἀνατεθραμμένοι ἧσαν ἐν τούτοις τοῖς δόγμασι, νῦν δὲ εἰσεφέρετο, ἴσως οὐκ ἂν ἐδέξατό τις τὸν λόγον.

Verse 9

9. πρὸς τὸ ὄνομα, contrary to the name, i.e. to the faith of Jesus Christ, into whose name believers were to be baptized. Cf. Acts 5:41, note. ‘Name’ is constantly used in O.T. as the equivalent of ‘Godhead,’ and any Jew who heard the language of such a verse as this would understand that the Christians held Jesus to be a Divine Being.

Ἰησοῦ τοῦ Ναζωραίου, of Jesus of Nazareth, whom we proclaim now as having been raised from the dead, and as being the fulfiller of the promises which were made to our forefathers.

Verse 10

10. καὶ ἐποίησα ἐν Ἰεροσολύμοις, which thing I also did in Jerusalem. Saul must have been a most active and prominent agent in the work of persecution in Jerusalem, for we learn here that the death of Stephen was not the only one for which he had given his vote. He had also had the warrant of the chief priests for other arrests beside those he intended to make in Damascus. We can see that the slaughter of the Christians was not in all cases the result of a sudden outburst of rage at some act or speech, but that some of them were imprisoned, then subjected to a form of trial, and afterwards put to death as men condemned by law.

φυλακαῖς. On the use of this word in the plural Bee Acts 22:4, note.

ψῆφον, vote. Of course the sense is the same as ‘voice’ in A.V., but the literal translation brings out more prominently that these proceedings were all carried on in a formal and quasi-legal manner.

Verse 11

11. καὶ κατὰ πάσας τὰς συναγωγὰς πολλάκις τιμωρῶν αὐτούς, and punishing them often in all the synagogues. This shews how zealous Saul’s labours against the Way had been. Of the synagogues as places where offenders were accused and punished, cf. Matthew 10:17; Matthew 23:34; Mark 13:9; Luke 12:11; Luke 21:12.

ἠνάγκαξον βλασφημεῖν, I strove to make them blaspheme. ἀναγκάζω is frequently rendered ‘constrain’ or ‘compel,’ but being here in the imperfect tense, it seems to indicate that the attempt was repeated often, and needed to be so, for it was not in some cases successful. Saul kept on with his constraint. βλασφημεῖν, i e. the name of Jesus, into which they had been baptized. They were to be forced to renounce the belief in the divinity of Jesus. Cf. on blasphemy of the Divine Name, Leviticus 24:11-16.

ἕως καὶ εἰς τὰς ἔξω πολεις, even unto foreign cities, that is, cities outside the country of the Jews proper. So that, as it appears, Damascus was but one among several cities to which Saul had gone on his errand of punishment.

Cf. ὁ ἔξω ἄνθρωπος, 2 Corinthians 4:16.

Verse 12

12. ἐν οἷς, wherein, i.e. in doing this work. The margin of Rev. Ver. represents the sense very well, ‘on which errand.’

μετ' ἐξουσίας καὶ ἐπιτροπῆς τῆς τῶν ἀρχιερέων, with the authority and commission of the high priests. Saul was the commissioner sent by the Jewish magistrates, and at this particular time Damascus had been assigned as the district where he was to search for the Christians.

Verse 13

13. ἡμέρας μέσης, at midday. There could be no question about the supernatural character of a light which overpowered the midday glare of an Eastern sun.

Verse 14

14. ἤκουσα φωνὴν λέγουσαν πρός, I heard a voice saying unto me. Saul alone gathered the import of what was said. His companions merely heard the sound, but nothing of the words. Cf. Daniel 10:7.

τῇ Ἑβραΐδι διαλέτῳ, in the Hebrew language. And this is represented in the proper name, which is not Σαῦλος as usual, but Σαούλ, a transliteration of the Hebrew form.

σκληρόν σοι πρὸς κέντρα λακτίξειν, it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks (lit. the goads). This is the only place where the oldest MSS. give these words. See note on Acts 9:5. The figure is from an ox, being driven on in his work. When restive or lazy, the driver pricks him, and in ignorance of the consequences, he kicks back, and so gets another wound. The words would imply that God had been guiding Saul towards the true light for some time before, and that this zeal for persecution was a resistance offered to the divine urging. It is not unusual for men who are moved to break away from old traditions at such times, by outward acts, to manifest even more zeal than before for their old opinions, as if in fear lest they should be thought to be falling away. This may have been Saul’s case, his kicking against the goads. The figure is very common in classical literature. Cf. Aesch. Prom. 323; Eur. Bacchæ 791.

Verse 15

15. τίς εἶ, κύριε; who art thou, Lord? The readiness with which ‘Lord,’ an expression of allegiance, comes to the Apostle’s lips lends probability to the notion that God’s promptings had been working in his heart before, and that the mad rage against ‘the Way’ was an attempt to stifle them.

Verse 16

16. προχειρίσασθαί σε ὑπηρέτην, to appoint thee a minister. Cf. for the verb, Acts 22:14. It implies a deliberate selection and appointment. For this reason St Paul was σκεῦος ἐκλογῆς (Acts 9:15).

καὶ μάρτυρα ὦν τε εἶδες, and a witness both of those things which thou hast seen. The Rev. Vers, gives ‘wherein thou hast seen Me,’ reading με after εἶδες. This reading gives a good sense, for St Paul dwells not unfrequently in his Epistles on his having seen Jesus. Cf. 1 Corinthians 9:1; 1 Corinthians 15:8, &c., and he makes this the ground of his independence in the Apostolic work, so that he can say he is not a whit behind any of the other Apostles.

But the Text. recept. is accepted by Lachmann, Tischendorf and Tregelles.

For the attraction of ὦν for see note on Acts 1:1.

ὦν τε ὀφθήσομαί σοι, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee. St Paul was more favoured than the rest of the Apostles, as far as we gather from the N.T. records, with visions from God to guide and comfort him at critical points in his work. Cf. Acts 18:9; Acts 23:11; and 2 Corinthians 12:2. It was specially important that Paul should have seen Jesus, so that he might bear independent witness to the truth of his Resurrection.

Verse 17

17. ἐξαιρούμενός σε ἐκ τοῦ λαοῦ, delivering thee from the people. The verb implies that the Apostle will be seized, and that the deliverance will be a rescue. From the first even in Damascus Saul found this, and he knew that in every city bonds and persecutions were to be his lot.

εἰς οξς ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλε σε, unto whom I send thee. The full force of the verb = ‘I make thee an Apostle.’ In the oldest texts ἐγώ is emphatically expressed. ‘Thou,’ as well as the rest, ‘art an Apostle chosen by Me, the Lord Jesus.’ The mission to the Gentiles seems to have been made clear to Saul from the very first. Compare his own language, Galatians 1:16. And in Acts 9:29 his preaching appears to have been rather directed to the Greek-Jews than to the members of the Church in Jerusalem.

Verse 18

18. ἀνοῖξαι ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτῶν, τοῦ ἐπιστρέψαι, to open their eyes that they may turn. Here we have another shade of meaning of the genitival infinitive. By the opening of their eyes the Gentiles will be enabled to turn. Cf. LXX. 1 Kings 8:58, ἐπικλῖναι καρδίας ἡμῶν ἐπ' αὐτὸν τοῦ πορεύεσθαι ἐν πάσαις ὁδαῖς αὐτοῦ

ἀπὸ σκότους εἰς φῶς, from darkness to light. So complete is the change which the Gospel knowledge works.

ἐν τοῖς ἡγιασμένοις πίστει τῇ εἰς ἐμέ, among them which are sanctified by faith in me. It is by their belief in Jesus that men are sanctified, and here ‘sanctified,’ as so often ‘saint’ in St Paul’s Epistles, is applied to those who have been Bet on the way of salvation, and not to those who are perfect in holiness; to that they will be brought if they persevere.

Verse 19

19. οὐκ ἑγενόμην ἀπειθής, I was not disobedient. More literally, ‘I did not become, or prove, disobedient.’ The thought goes back to the ‘kicking against the pricks,’ the opposition of previous times. That was at an end now. Jesus was ‘Lord,’ and Saul’s only question ‘What wilt thou have me to do?’

τῇ οὐρανίῳ ὀπτασίᾳ, to the heavenly vision. ὀπτασία is a word of late origin. It occurs several times in N.T., Luke 1:22; 2 Corinthians 12:1; also frequently in the LXX. of Daniel.

Verse 20

20. καὶ ἐν Ἱεροσαλύγοις, and at Jerusalem. Cf. Acts 9:29. Here he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians, so that they went about to kill him.

πᾶσάν τε τὴν χώραν τῆς Ἰονδαίας, and throughout all the country of Judæa. This accusative of place after ἀπαγγελλειν without a preposition is very unusual, bat all the oldest authorities agree in omitting εἰς. The omission is probably due to the position of the words between the two datives Ἱεροσολύμοις and τοῖς ἕθνεσιν.

Of this ministration in Judæa we are only told, Acts 9:30, that the brethren finding Saul in danger in Jerusalem brought him to Cæsarea, and thence sent him to Tarsus. But as we see in the history of Felix (cf. Acts 23:34, note) that Cilicia was sometimes reckoned as a part of the province of Judæa, the preaching in Cilicia may be included in the expression ‘country of Judæa.’ And we may feel sure that Paul, wherever he might be, never laid aside the character which Christ’s mission had imposed upon him.

ἀπήγγελλον, I declared. The literal sense should be kept in mind. Saul had a message given to him to deliver. He was henceforth God’s evangelist.

ἄξια τῆς μετανοίας ἔργα πράσσοντας, doing works worthy of their repentance. Thus the force of the article is more nearly given, for the works were to be a sign of their repentance and turning unto God; the means whereby the reality of their sorrow and the earnestness of their desire were to be shewn.

Verse 21

21. ἕνεκα τούτων, on account of these things. R.V. very well ‘for this cause.’

Ἰουδαῖοι συλλαβόμενοι, the Jews having seized me. The verb implies an arrest with violence.

ἐπειρῶντο διαχειρίσαθαι, endeavoured to kill me. St Paul combines the riot in the Temple with the subsequent plot before he was sent to Cæsarea, or he may be alluding only to the violence by which he was nearly torn in pieces before the chief captain came to his rescue. The verb διαχειρίζομαι indicates the laying violent hands on any one, and so favours the latter view. It is found above, Acts 5:30.

Verse 22

22. ἐπικουρίας οὖν τυχὲν τῆς ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ, having therefore obtained the help that is from God. The connexion by οὖν implies that only help divine could have saved him in such perils. ἐπικουρία means such succour as an ally gives, and recalls God’s promise, ‘Surely I will be with thee.’

ἄχρι τῆς ἡμέρας ταύτης ἕστηκα, I stand unto this day. The Apostle has in mind the many attempts to cast him down which had been made by Jews, and Gentiles too, during his missionary journeys. He has been rescued in many ways, and is still there standing safe and sound through the help which God hath sent him. He does not forget human agency, but this, whatever it was, was all sent of God.

μαρτυρόμενος μικρῷ τε καὶ μεγάλῳ, testifying both to small and great. St Paul was now in the presence of two who would be named great, and he knew that God had declared he was to testify ‘before kings’ (Acts 9:15).

ὧν. For the government, see Acts 1:1.

οἱ προφῆταικαὶ ΄ωϋσῆς, the prophets and Moses, i.e. the whole Old Testament Scriptures. The form of the phrase is usually ‘Moses and the prophets,’ according to the order of the O.T. books. Sometimes we have ‘the Law and the prophets,’ and once (Luke 24:44) ‘the law of Moses, the prophets and the Psalms.’

μελλόντεν γίνεσθαι, were about to come. The attraction of μελλόντων into the case of the relative preceding is an uncommon occurrence. The plain construction of the whole sentence would be ἐκτὸς τούτων ἂ οἱ προφῆται ἐλάλησαν μέλλοντα, ‘except those things which the prophets spake of as about to come.’ But τούτων being dropped, the relative is attracted into the case of the lost antecedent, and draws the participle in its train.

Verse 23

23. εἰ παθητὸς ὁ Χριστός, that the Christ should suffer. Literally ‘if the Christ be one who has to suffer.’ And the Apostle having in his mind the facts, puts the sentence as a topic on which there was debate among the Jews, as indeed there was (see John 12:34). And St Paul says he answered this question out of the Scriptures. His answer of course was a positive one; therefore what he taught is fairly represented by the English ‘that the Christ’ &c.; though the teaching was a response to ‘whether the Christ be one who is to suffer.’ The same remark applies to the use of εἰ in the next clause.

πρῶτος ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν φῶς μέλλει καταγγέλλειν, He first by the resurrection of the dead should proclaim light. For Christ was the first-fruits of them that sleep. His resurrection was an earnest of the general resurrection. Thus life and immortality were brought to light. The full force of μέλλει καταγγέλλειν ‘is about to proclaim’ points on to the preaching of the Gospel from generation to generation. He shall enlighten believers thus through all time.

τῷ τε λαῷ καὶ τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, both unto the people and to the Gentiles. By ὁ λαός the Jews are meant. So in St Matthew 1:21, ‘He shall save His people from their sins,’ ‘His people’ = His own (cf. St John 1:11), i.e. the Jews. Christ was spoken of in like terms by the aged Simeon, ‘A light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of Thy people Israel,’ and he could say this because in Jesus he beheld God’s ‘salvation.’ He could ‘depart in peace,’ being sure that ‘to die’ was only the pledge of ‘to rise again.’

Verse 24

24. μεγάλῃ τῇ φωνῇ φησίν, says with a loud voice. Probably what had last fallen from St Paul seemed to Festus little better than lunatic ravings. The Gospel of the Cross did appear as ‘foolishness’ to the Gentile world. And this Gospel he had just heard in all its fulness: that the Christ by suffering of death and rising to life again should be the source of true enlightenment both to Jews and Gentiles.

μαίνῃ Παῦλε, Paul, thou art mad. μαίνομαι occurs in the next verse, and the two places should accord, though sentiment clings to ‘Paul, thou art beside thyself.’

τὰ πολλά σε γράμματα εἰς μανίαν περιτρέπει, much learning doth make thee mad. Literally, ‘doth turn thee to madness.’ For γράμματα in the sense of ‘learning’ ‘letters,’ cf. John 7:15. It may be also that there is an allusion to the γράμματα, ‘the Jewish Scriptures,’ to which the Apostle had been so largely appealing. As a religious literature no nation, not even the polished Greeks, had anything to place in comparison with the sacred books of the Jews.

Verses 24-32


Verse 25

25. κράτιστε, most excellent. On this title cf. above, Acts 23:26, Acts 24:3. St Chrysostom remarks here that the Apostle now answers with gentleness, not as to the high-priest (Acts 23:3).

σωφροσύνης, soberness. In classical Greek the word is the exact opposite of that μανία unto which Festus had just said St Paul was turned.

Verse 26

26. λανθάνειν γὰρ αὐτόν τι τούτων οὐ πείθομαι οὐδέν, for I am persuaded that none of these things is hidden from him, i.e. none of the history of the life and works of Jesus, of His death and resurrection, of the marvellous gifts of Pentecost, and the preaching of the Gospel since Jesus had been crucified.

The grammar presents some anomaly from the occurrence of τι and οὐδὲν in the same sentence. It is perhaps best to take the former adverbially = ‘in any degree.’ Then οὐ before πείθομαι is only the Greek manner of intensifying a negative idea, and need not be noticed in the English idiom.

ἐν γωνίᾳ πεπραγμένον, done in a corner. That there was no lack of knowledge about our Lord among the Jewish people we can be sure from the excitement which during His life He caused by His mighty works, also from the efforts put forth to stop His teaching, efforts which culminated in a trial in which both Jewish and Roman magistrates were consulted, and by the exclamation of the Pharisees (John 12:19) ‘The world is gone after Him,’ and the declaration (Acts 17:6) ‘These that have turned the world upside down.’

Chrysostom says: ἐνταῦθα περὶ τοῦ σταυροῦ λέγει τοῦτο, καὶ περὶ τῆς ἀναστάσεως, καὶ ὅτι πανταχοῦ τῆς οἰκουμένης γέγονε τὸ δόγμα.

Verse 27

27. πιστεύειςτοῖς προφήταις; believest thou the prophets? Whose writings foretell the events about which I am speaking, and whose predictions have had their fulfilment in the history of Jesus of Nazareth.

οἶδα ὅτι πιστεύεις, I know that thou believest. The Apostle answers his own question, for he is sure that Agrippa would not have given a different answer, seeing how anxious all his family were, in spite of their relations with Rome, to be accepted of the Jewish nation. St Paul does not imply by his words any conviction about the character of Agrippa’s faith in the Scriptures.

Verse 28

28. ἐν ὀλίγῳ με πείθεις Χριστιανὸν ποιῆσαι, with but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian. The literal rendering is, ‘with (or in) little (labour or time) thou art persuading me so as to make me a Christian,’ as if ποιῆσαι = ὥστε με ποιῆσαι. ‘With little labour’ or ‘in a little time’ implies that the king despised the attempt which had been made to convince him, and mocked at the language of St Paul in so readily taking for granted that he was in accord with him. It is as though he said, ‘You are supposing that I accept these words of the prophets in the same sense as you do, and you are a fool for your pains, to think that with so little trouble and in so short a space you could win me over to your side. And such a side! To be a Christian.’ The name had, no doubt, been given, when it was first applied (Acts 11:26), to the adherents of Jesus as a term of reproach, and it is likely that it had not yet won its way to be a name of credit, at all events among such men as Agrippa and his friends. For we have no reason to suppose that the king was influenced at all by Paul’s words.

Verse 29

29. καὶ ἐν ὀλίγῳ καὶ ἐν μεγάλῳ, whether with little or with much. The Apostle takes up the jeer of the king in a serious tone, and replies: ‘I may have seemed to use little persuasion, and suddenly to have jumped at the conclusion that you accept the teaching of the prophets as I myself receive it; but whether it need little or much persuasion, or little or much time, my prayer to God is, for you and for all who listen to me, that they may become such as I am, save as to my bonds.’

γενέσθαι τοιούτους ὁποῖος κἀγώ εἰμι, might become such as I am. The Apostle does not use the word ‘Christian,’ which for himself he might willingly have accepted (cf. 1 Peter 4:16), but which was used by the king in a mocking sense, and therefore would not have made his wish seem an acceptable one. You may call me ‘Christian’ in mockery, my joy and hope and faith in Christ are such, that I know no better prayer for any than to wish you all the like blessings.

παρεκτὸς τῶν δεσμῶν τούτων, except these bonds. From this it is clear, in spite of the leniency with which Paul had been at first treated by Felix, that either because his case was deemed more serious in consequence of his being left in prison so long, or because he was just now before the court as a prisoner, the Apostle had been put in chains.

For παρεκτός, which is a rarely found preposition, cf. Matthew 5:32. Also ‘Test. XII. Patr.’ Zab. 1, παρεκτὸς ἐννοίας. See also ‘Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,’ 6.

Verse 30

30. οἱ συγκαθήμενοι αὐτοῖς, they that sat with them, i.e. the chief captains and the principal men of Cæsarea. (See Acts 25:23.) The authorities withdrew to consult upon what they had heard.

Verse 31

31. ἐλάλουν πρὸς ἀλλήλους, they spake one to another. This literal sense brings out more clearly that they were all of one mind about the case.

Verse 32

32. ἀπολελύσθαι ἐδύνατο, might have been set at liberty. Thus Agrippa, looking at the question from the Jewish standpoint, confirms the opinion of the Roman magistrate (cf. Acts 25:25). So that St Paul was acquitted on all hands, and Festus may rightly be deemed guilty because he had driven an innocent man to appeal to a higher court, from fear that he would be delivered into the power of his enemies. But God was using human means for bringing the Apostle to Rome, and so fulfilling his servant’s great desire, and in such wise that he should be heard before kings in behalf of the Gospel.

εἰ μὴ ἐπεκέκλητο Καίσαρα, if he had not appealed unto Cæsar. The appeal put an end to all powers of a lower court either to condemn or absolve.

Chrysostom’s comment here is ὄρα πῶς καὶ πάλιν ὑπὲρ αὐτοῦ ψηφίζονται, καὶ μετὰ τὸ εἰπεῖν μαίνῃ, ἀφίασιν αὐτόν.


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Bibliography Information
"Commentary on Acts 26:4". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

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