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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Acts 26



Verse 1

Thou art permitted (επιτρεπεται σοιepitrepetai soi). Literally, It is permitted thee. As if Agrippa were master of ceremonies instead of Festus. Agrippa as a king and guest presides at the grand display while Festus has simply introduced Paul.

For thyself (υπερ σεαυτουhuper seautou). Some MSS. have περιperi (concerning). Paul is allowed to speak in his own behalf. No charges are made against him. In fact, Festus has admitted that he has no real proof of any charges.

Stretched forth his hand (εκτεινας την χειραekteinas tēn cheira). Dramatic oratorical gesture (not for silence as in Acts 12:17; Acts 13:16) with the chain still upon it (Acts 26:29) linking him to the guard. First aorist active participle of εκτεινωekteinō to stretch out.

Made his defence (απελογειτοapelogeito). Inchoative imperfect of απολογεομαιapologeomai (middle), “began to make his defence.” This is the fullest of all Paul‘s defences. He has no word of censure of his enemies or of resentment, but seizes the opportunity to preach Christ to such a distinguished company which he does with “singular dignity” (Furneaux). He is now bearing the name of Christ “before kings” (Acts 9:15). In general Paul follows the line of argument of the speech on the stairs (chapter Acts 22).

Verse 2

I think myself happy (ηγημαι εμαυτον μακαριονhēgēmai emauton makarion). See note on Matthew 5:3 for makarios Blass notes that Paul, like Tertullus, begins with captatio benevolentiae, but absque adulatione. He says only what he can truthfully speak. For μακαριοςhēgēmai see note on Philemon 3:7 and 1 Timothy 6:1 (perfect middle indicative of ηγημαιhēgeomai), I have considered.

That I am to make my defence (ηγεομαιmellōn apologeisthai). Literally, “being about to make my defence.”

Whereof I am accused (μελλων απολογεισταιhōn egkaloumai). Genitive with ων εγκαλουμαιegkaloumai as in Acts 19:40 or by attraction from accusative of relative (εγκαλουμαιha) to case of antecedent (αpantōn).

Verse 3

Especially because thou art expert (μαλιστα γνωστην οντα σεmalista gnōstēn onta se). Or like the margin, “because thou art especially expert,” according as μαλισταmalista is construed. ΓνωστηνGnōstēn is from γινωσκωginōskō and means a knower, expert, connoisseur. Plutarch uses it and Deissmann (Light, etc., p. 367) restores it in a papyrus. Agrippa had the care of the temple, the appointment of the high priest, and the care of the sacred vestments. But the accusative οντα σεonta se gives trouble here coming so soon after σουsou (genitive with επιepi). Some MSS. insert επισταμενοςepistamenos or ειδωςeidōs (knowing) but neither is genuine. Page takes it as “governed by the sense of thinking or considering.” Knowling considers it an anacoluthon. Buttmann held it to be an accusative absolute after the old Greek idiom. ΤυχονTuchon is such an instance though used as an adverb (1 Corinthians 16:6). It is possible that one exists in Ephesians 1:18. See other examples discussed in Robertson‘s Grammar, pp. 490f.

Customs and questions (ετων τε και ζητηματωνethōn te kai zētēmatōn). Both consuetudinum in practicis and quaestionum in theoreticis (Bengel). Agrippa was qualified to give Paul an understanding and a sympathetic hearing. Paul understands perfectly the grand-stand play of the whole performance, but he refused to be silent and chose to use this opportunity, slim as it seemed, to get a fresh hearing for his own case and to present the claims of Christ to this influential man. His address is a masterpiece of noble apologetic.

Patiently (μακροτυμωςmakrothumōs). Adverb from μακροτυμοςmakrothumos Only here in the N.T., though μακροτυμιαmakrothumia occurs several times. Vulgate has longanimiter. Long spirit, endurance, opposite of impatience. So Paul takes his time.

Verse 4

My manner of life (την μεν ουν βιωσιν μουtēn men oun biōsin mou). With μεν ουνmen oun Paul passes from the captatio benevolentiae (Acts 26:1, Acts 26:2) “to the narratio or statement of his case” (Page). ιωσιςBiōsis is from βιοωbioō (1 Peter 4:2) and that from βιοςbios (course of life). This is the only instance of βιωσιςbiōsis yet found except the Prologue (10) of Ecclesiasticus and an inscription given in Ramsay‘s Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, Vol II, p. 650.

Know (ισασιisāsi). Literary form instead of the vernacular Koiné{[28928]}š οιδασινoidasin Paul‘s early life in Tarsus and Jerusalem was an open book to all Jews.

Verse 5

Having knowledge of me from the first (προγινωσκοντες με ανωτενproginōskontes me anōthen). Literally, “knowing me beforehand” (both προpro and ανωτενanōthen), from the beginning of Paul‘s public education in Jerusalem (Knowling). Cf. 2 Peter 3:17.

If they be willing to testify (εαν τελωσιν μαρτυρεινean thelōsin martureōin). Condition of third class (εανean and subjunctive). A neat turning of the tables on the distinguished audience about Paul‘s Jerusalem reputation before his conversion.

After the straitest sect (την ακριβεστατην αιρεσινtēn akribestatēn hairesin). This is a true superlative (not elative) and one of the three (also αγιωτατοςhagiōtatos Judges 1:20, τιμιωτατοςtimiōtatos Revelation 18:12; Revelation 21:11) superlatives in τατος̇tatos in the N.T. (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 279f., 670), though common enough in the lxx and the papyri. αιρεσινHairesin (choosing) is properly used here with Pharisees (Josephus, Life, 38).

Religion (τρησκειαςthrēskeias). From τρησκευωthrēskeuō and this from τρησκοςthrēskos (James 1:26), old word for religious worship or discipline, common in the papyri and inscriptions (Moulton and Milligan‘s Vocabulary) for reverent worship, not mere external ritual. In N.T. only here, James 1:26.; Colossians 2:18.

I lived a Pharisee (εζησα Παρισαιοςezēsa Pharisaios). Emphatic position. Paul knew the rules of the Pharisees and played the game to the full (Galatians 1:14; Philemon 3:5.). The Talmud makes it plain what the life of a Pharisee was. Paul had become one of the leaders and stars of hope for his sect.

Verse 6

And now (και νυνkai nun). Sharp comparison between his youth and the present.

To be judged for the hope (επ ελπιδικρινομενοςep' elpidi̇̇krinomenos). The hope of the resurrection and of the promised Messiah (Acts 13:32). Page calls Acts 26:6-8 a parenthesis in the course of Paul‘s argument by which he shows that his life in Christ is a real development of the best in Pharisaism. He does resume his narrative in Acts 26:9, but Acts 26:6-8 are the core of his defence already presented in Galatians 3; Romans 9-11 where he proves that the children of faith are the real seed of Abraham.

Verse 7

Our twelve tribes (το δωδεκαπυλον ημωνto dōdekaphulon hēmōn). A word found only here in N.T. and in Christian and Jewish writings, though δωδεκαμηνονdōdekamēnon (twelve month) is common in the papyri and δεκαπυλοςdekaphulos (ten tribes) in Herodotus. Paul‘s use of this word for the Jewish people, like James 1:1 (ταις δωδεκα πυλαιςtais dōdeka phulais the twelve tribes), shows that Paul had no knowledge of any “lost ten tribes.” There is a certain national pride and sense of unity in spite of the dispersion (Page).

Earnestly (εν εκτενειαιen ekteneiāi). A late word from εκτεινωekteinō to stretch out, only here in N.T., but in papyri and inscriptions. Page refers to Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-28) as instances of Jews looking for the coming of the Messiah. Note the accusative of νυκτα και ημερανnukta kai hēmeran as in Acts 20:31.

Hope to attain (ελπιζει καταντησαιelpizei katantēsai). This Messianic hope had been the red thread running through Jewish history. Today, alas, it is a sadly worn thread for Jews who refuse to see the Messiah in Jesus.

I am accused by Jews (εγκαλουμαι υπο Ιουδαιωνegkaloumai hupo Ioudaiōn). The very word used in Acts 23:28 (ενεκαλουνenekaloun) which see, and by Jews of all people in the world whose mainspring was this very “hope.” It is a tremendously effective turn.

Verse 8

Incredible with you (απιστον παρ υμινapiston par' humin). This old word απιστονapiston (αa privative and πιστοςpistos) means either unfaithful (Luke 12:46), unbelieving (John 20:27), or unbelievable as here). Paul turns suddenly from Agrippa to the audience (παρ υμινpar' humin plural), most of whom were probably Gentiles and scouted the doctrine of the resurrection as at Athens (Acts 17:32).

If God doth raise the dead (ει ο τεος νεκρους εγειρειei ho theos nekrous egeirei). Condition of the first class assuming that God does raise dead people. Only God can do it. This rhetorical question needs no answer, though the narrative resumed in Acts 26:9 does it in a way.

Verse 9

I verily thought with myself (εγω μεν ουν εδοχα εμαυτωιegō men oun edoxa emautōi). Personal construction instead of the impersonal, a touch of the literary style. Paul‘s “egoism” is deceived as so often happens.

I ought (δεινdein). Infinitive the usual construction with δοκεωdokeō Necessity and a sense of duty drove Paul on even in this great sin (See note on Acts 23:1), a common failing with persecutors.

Contrary (εναντιαenantia). Old word (adjective), over against, opposite (Acts 27:4), then hostile to as here.

Verse 10

I both shut up many (πολλους τε κατεκλεισαpollous te katekleisa). Effective aorist active of κατακλειωkatakleiō old word to shut down like a trap door, in N.T. only here and Luke 3:20. Double use of τεte (both--and).

Having received authority from the chief priests (την παρα των αρχιερεων εχουσιαν λαβωνtēn para tōn archiereōn exousian labōn). “The authority,” he says. Paul was the official persecutor of the saints under the direction of the Sanhedrin. He mentions “chief priests” (Sadducees), though a Pharisee himself. Both parties were co-operating against the saints.

And when they were put to death (αναιρουμενων τε αυτωνanairoumenōn te autōn). Genitive absolute with present passive participle of αναιρεωanaireō

I gave my vote against them (κατηνεγκα πσηπονkatēnegka psēphon). “I cast down my pebble” (a black one). The ancient Greeks used white pebbles for acquittal (Revelation 2:17), black ones for condemnation as here (the only two uses of the word in the N.T.). Paul‘s phrase (not found elsewhere) is more vivid than the usual καταπσηπιζωkatapsēphizō for voting. They literally cast the pebbles into the urn. Cf. συμπσηπιζωsumpsēphizō in Acts 19:19, συγκαταπσεπιζοsugkatapsephizo in Acts 1:26. If Paul‘s language is taken literally here, he was a member of the Sanhedrin and so married when he led the persecution. That is quite possible, though he was not married when he wrote 1 Corinthians 7:7., but a widower. It is possible to take the language figuratively for approval, but not so natural.

Verse 11

Punishing (τιμωρωνtimōrōn). Old word τιμωρεωtimōreō originally to render help, to succor (τιμωροςtimōros from τιμηtimē and ουροςouros), then to avenge (for honour). In N.T. only here and Acts 22:5.

I strove to make them blaspheme (ηναγκαζον βλασπημεινēnagkazon blasphēmein). Conative imperfect active of αναγκαζωanagkazō old verb from αναγκηanagkē (necessity, compulsion). The tense, like the imperfect in Matthew 3:14; Luke 1:59, leaves room to hope that Paul was not successful in this effort, for he had already said that he brought many “unto death” (Acts 22:4).

I persecuted (εδιωκονediōkon). Imperfect active again, repeated attempts. The old verb διωκωdiōkō was used to run after or chase game and then to chase enemies. The word “persecute” is the Latin persequor, to follow through or after. It is a vivid picture that Paul here paints of his success in hunting big game, a grand heresy hunt.

Even unto foreign cities (και εις εχω πολειςkai eis exō poleis). We know of Damascus, and Paul evidently planned to go to other cities outside of Palestine and may even have done so before the fateful journey to Damascus.

Verse 12

Whereupon (εν οιςen hois). “In which things” (affairs of persecution), “on which errand.” Cf. Acts 24:18. Paul made them leave Palestine (Acts 11:19) and followed them beyond it (Acts 9:2).

With the authority and commission (μετ εχουσιας και επιτροπηςmet' exousias kai epitropēs). Not merely “authority” (εχουσιαexousia), but express appointment (επιτροπηepitropē old word, but here only in N.T., derived from επιτροποςepitropos steward, and that from επιτρεπωepitrepō to turn over to, to commit).

Verse 13

At midday (ημερας μεσηςhēmeras mesēs). Genitive of time and idiomatic use of μεσοςmesos in the middle of the day, more vivid than μεσημβριανmesēmbrian (Acts 22:6).

Above the brightness of the sun (υπερ την λαμπροτητα του ηλιουhuper tēn lamprotēta tou hēliou). Here alone not in Acts 9; 22, though implied in Acts 9:3; Acts 22:6, “indicating the supernatural character of the light” (Knowling). Luke makes no effort to harmonize the exact phrases here with those in the other accounts and Paul here (Acts 26:16) blends together what Jesus said to him directly and the message of Jesus through Ananias (Acts 9:15). The word λαμπροτηςlamprotēs old word, is here alone in the N.T.

Shining round about me (περιλαμπσαν μεperilampsan me). First aorist active participle of περιλαμπωperilampō common Koiné{[28928]}š verb, in N.T. only here and Luke 2:9.

Verse 14

When we were all fallen (παντων καταπεσοντων ημωνpantōn katapesontōn hēmōn). Genitive absolute with second aorist active participle of καταπιπτωkatapiptō In the Hebrew language (τηι Εβραιδι διαλεκτωιtēi Ebraidi dialektōi). Natural addition here, for Paul is speaking in Greek, not Aramaic as in Acts 22:2.

It is hard for thee to kick against the goad (σκληρον σοι προς κεντρα λακτιζεινsklēron soi pros kentra laktizein). Genuine here, but not in chapters 9, 22. A common proverb as Aeschylus Ag. 1624: Προς κεντρα μη λακτιζεPros kentra mē laktize “It is taken from an ox that being pricked with a goad kicks and receives a severer wound” (Page). Cf. the parables of Jesus (Matthew 13:35). Blass observes that Paul‘s mention of this Greek and Latin proverb is an indication of his culture. Besides he mentions (not invents) it here rather than in chapter 22 because of the culture of this audience. ΚεντρονKentron means either sting as of bees (II Macc. Acts 14:19) and so of death (1 Corinthians 15:55) or an iron goad in the ploughman‘s hand as here (the only two N.T. examples). Note plural here (goads) and λακτιζεινlaktizein is present active infinitive so that the idea is “to keep on kicking against goads.” This old verb means to kick with the heel (adverb λαχlax with the heel), but only here in the N.T. There is a papyrus example of kicking (λακτιζωlaktizō) with the feet against the door.

Verse 16

Arise and stand (αναστητι και στητιanastēthi kai stēthi). “Emphatic assonance” (Page). Second aorist active imperative of compound verb (ανιστημιanistēmi) and simplex (ιστημιhistēmi). “Stand up and take a stand.”

Have I appeared unto thee (ωπτην σοιōphthēn soi). First aorist passive indicative of οραωhoraō See Luke 22:43.

To appoint thee (procheirisasthai se). See note on Acts 22:14 for this verb.

Both of the things wherein thou hast seen me (προχειρισασται σεhōn te eides me). The reading ων τε οπτησομαι σοιme (not in all MSS.) makes it the object of ωνeides (didst see) and αhōn is genitive of τουτωνha (accusative of general reference) attracted to the case of the unexpressed antecedent εκεινωνtoutōn Paul is thus a personal eyewitness of the Risen Christ (Luke 1:1; 1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Corinthians 9:1).

And of the things wherein I will appear unto thee (οπτησομαιhōn te ophthēsomai soi). Here again οραωhōn is genitive of the accusative (general reference) relative απεκριτηνha attracted to the case of the antecedent εποβητηνtoutōn or ekeinōn as before. But ophthēsomai is first future passive of horaō and cannot be treated as active or middle. Page takes it to mean “the visions in which I shall be seen by you,” the passive form bringing out the agency of God. See those in Acts 18:9; Acts 23:11; 2 Corinthians 12:2. The passive voice, however, like apekrithēn and ephobēthēn did become sometimes transitive in the Koiné{[28928]}š (Robertson, Grammar, p. 819).

Verse 17

Delivering thee (εχαιρουμενος σεexairoumenos se). Present middle participle of εχαιρεωexaireō old verb and usually so rendered, but the old Greek also uses it for “choose” as also in lxx (Isaiah 48:10). The papyri give examples of both meanings and either makes good sense here. God was continually rescuing Paul “out of the hands of Jews and Gentiles and Paul was a chosen vessel” (Acts 9:15). Modern scholars are also divided.

Verse 18

To open (ανοιχαιanoixai). First aorist active infinitive of purpose.

That they may turn (του επιστρεπσαιtou epistrepsai). Another infinitive of purpose first aorist active (genitive case and articular), epexegetic to ανοιχαιanoixai

That they may receive (του λαβεινtou labein). Another genitive articular infinitive of purpose subordinate (epexegetic) to του επιστρεπσαιtou epistrepsai

Sanctified by faith in me (ηγιασμενοις πιστει τηι εις εμεhēgiasōmenois pistei tēi eis eme). Perfect passive participle of αγιαζωhagiazō instrumental case of πιστειpistei article before εις εμεeis eme (“by faith, that in me”). These important words of Jesus to Paul give his justification to this cultured audience for his response to the command of Jesus. This was the turning point in Paul‘s career and it was a step forward and upward.

Verse 19

Wherefore (οτενhothen). This relatival adverb (cf. Acts 14:26; Acts 28:13) gathers up all that Paul has said.

I was not disobedient (ουκ εγενομην απειτηςouk egenomēn apeithēs). Litotes again, “I did not become (second aorist middle indicative of γινομαιginomai) disobedient” (απειτηςapeithēs old word already in Luke 1:17).

Unto the heavenly vision (τηι ουρανιωι οπτασιαιtēi ouraniōi optasiāi). A later form of οπσιςopsis from οπταζωoptazō in lxx, and in N.T. (Luke 1:22; Luke 24:23; Acts 26:19; 2 Corinthians 12:1). Only time that Paul uses it about seeing Christ on the Damascus road, but no reflection on the reality of the event.

Verse 20

But declared (αλλα απηγγελλονalla apēggellon). Imperfect active of απαγγελλωapaggellō repeatedly.

Throughout all the country of Judea (πασαν τε την χωραν της Ιουδαιαςpāsan te tēn chōran tēs Ioudaias). The accusative here in the midst of the datives (τοις εν Δαμασκωι Ιεροσολυμοισ τοις ετνεσινtois en DamaskōiειςIerosolumoisαχια της μετανοιας εργα πρασσονταςtois ethnesin) seems strange and Page feels certain that πρασσονταςeis should be here even though absent in Aleph A B. But the accusative of extent of space will explain it (Robertson, Grammar, p. 469).

Doing works worthy of repentance (αυτουςaxia tēs metanoias erga prassontas). Accusative case of present active participle μετανοεινprassontas because of the implied επιστρεπεινautous with the present infinitive πρασσουσινmetanoein (repent) and ετνεσινepistrephein (turn), though the dative prassousin could have been used to agree with ethnesin (Gentiles). Cf. Matthew 3:8 for similar language used of the Baptist. Paul, the greatest of theologians, was an interesting practical preacher.

Verse 21

Assayed to kill me (επειρωντο διαχειρισασταιepeirōnto diacheirisasthai). Conative imperfect middle of πειραωpeiraō the old form of the later Koiné{[28928]}š πειραζωpeirazō so common in the Koiné, but in N.T. here only. Some MSS. have it in Acts 9:26; Hebrews 4:15. The old verb διαχειριζωdiacheirizō to take in hand, middle to lay hands on, to slay, occurs in N.T. only here and Acts 5:30 which see.

Verse 22

Having therefore obtained (ουν τυχωνoun tuchōn). Second aorist active participle of old verb τυγχανωtugchanō

The help that is from God (επικουριας της απο του τεουepikourias tēs apo tou theou). Old word from επικουρεωepikoureō to aid, and that from επικουροςepikouros ally, assister. Only here in N.T. God is Paul‘s ally. All of the plots of the Jews against Paul had failed so far.

I stand (εστηκαhestēka). Second perfect of ιστημιhistēmi to place, intransitive to stand. Picturesque word (Page) of Paul‘s stability and fidelity (cf. Philemon 4:1; Ephesians 6:13).

Both to small and great (μικρωι τε και μεγαλωιmikrōi te kai megalōi). Dative singular (rather than instrumental, taking μαρτυρουμενοςmarturoumenos middle, not passive) and use of τε καιte kai links the two adjectives together in an inclusive way. These two adjectives in the singular (representative singular rather than plural) can apply to age (young and old) or to rank (Revelation 11:18) as is specially suitable here with Festus and Agrippa present. In Acts 8:10 (Hebrews 8:11) the phrase explains παντεςpantes (all).

Saying nothing but what (ουδεν εκτος λεγων ωνouden ektos legōn hōn). “Saying nothing outside of those things which.” The ablative relative ωνhōn is attracted into the case of the unexpressed antecedent τουτωνtoutōn and so ablative after εκτοςektos (adverbial preposition common in lxx, the papyri. In N.T. here and 1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 15:27; 2 Corinthians 12:2.). Cf. Luke 16:29 about Moses and the prophets.

Verse 23

How that the Christ must suffer (ει πατητος ο Χριστοςei pathētos ho Christos). Literally, “if the Messiah is subject to suffering.” ΕιEi can here mean “whether” as in Hebrews 7:15. This use of a verbal in τος̇tos for capability or possibility occurs in the N.T. alone in πατητοςpathētos (Robertson, Grammar, p. 157). This word occurs in Plutarch in this sense. It is like the Latin patibilis and is from ει πρωτος εχ αναστασεως νεκρωνpaschō Here alone in N.T. Paul is speaking from the Jewish point of view. Most rabbis had not rightly understood Isaiah 53:1-12. When the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29) it was a startling idea. It is not then “must suffer” here, but “can suffer.” The Cross of Christ was a stumbling-block to the rabbis.

How that he first by the resurrection of the dead (ειei prōtos exō anastaseōs nekrōn). Same construction with πρωτοςei (whether). This point Paul had often discussed with the Jews: “whether he (the Messiah) by a resurrection of dead people.” Others had been raised from the dead, but Christ is the first (πως μελλει καταγγελλεινprōtos) who arose from the dead and no longer dies (Romans 6:19) and proclaims light (τωι τε λαωι και τοις ετνεσινphōs mellei kataggellein). Paul is still speaking from the Jewish standpoint: “is about to (going to) proclaim light.” See Acts 26:18 for “light” and Luke 2:32.

Both to the people and to the Gentiles (ετνηtōi te laōi kai tois ethnesin). See Acts 26:17. It was at the word Gentiles (αναστασιςethnē) that the mob lost control of themselves in the speech from the stairs (Acts 22:21.). So it is here, only not because of that word, but because of the word “resurrection” (anastasis).

Verse 24

As he thus made his defence (ταυτα αυτου απολογουμενουtauta autou apologoumenou). Genitive absolute again with present middle participle. Paul was still speaking when Festus interrupted him in great excitement.

With a loud voice (μεγαληι τηι πωνηιmegalēi tēi phōnēi). Associative instrumental case showing manner (Robertson, Grammar, p. 530) and the predicate use of the adjective, “with the voice loud” (elevated).

Thou art mad (μαινηιmainēi). Old verb for raving. See also John 10:20; Acts 12:15; 1 Corinthians 14:23. The enthusiasm of Paul was too much for Festus and then he had spoken of visions and resurrection from the dead (Acts 26:8). “Thou art going mad” (linear present), Festus means.

Thy much learning doth turn thee to madness (τα πολλα σε γραμματα εις μανιαν περιτρεπειta polla se grammata eis manian peritrepei). “Is turning thee round.” Old verb περιτρεπωperitrepō but only here in N.T. Festus thought that Paul‘s “much learning” (=“many letters,” cf. John 7:15 of Jesus) of the Hebrew Scriptures to which he had referred was turning his head to madness (wheels in his head) and he was going mad right before them all. The old word μανιαmania (our mania, frenzy, cf. maniac) occurs here only in N.T. Note unusual position of σεse between πολλαpolla and γραμματαgrammata (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 418, 420)

Verse 25

But speak forth (αλλα αποπτεγγομαιalla apophtheggomai). Verb for dignified and elevated discourse, a word from the literary Koiné, not the vernacular. In N.T. only here and Acts 2:4, Acts 2:14 which see. It occurs three times in Vettius Valens in a “mantic” sense. Paul was not ruffled by the rude and excited interruption of Festus, but speaks with perfect courtesy in his reply “words of truth and soberness.” The old word σωπροσυνηsōphrosunē (soundness of mind) from σωπρωνsōphrōn (and that from σωςsōs and πρηνphrēn) is directly opposed to “madness” (μανιαmania) and in N.T. occurs only here and 1 Timothy 2:15.

Verse 26

For the king knoweth of these things (επισταται γαρ περι τουτων ο βασιλευςepistatai gar peri toutōn ho basileus). ΕπισταταιEpistatai (present middle probably Ionic form of επιστημιephistēmi) is a literary word and suits well here (cf. Acts 24:10).

Freely (παρρησιαζομενοςparrēsiazomenos). Present middle participle, speaking fully, making a clean breast of it. From παρρησιαparrēsia (παν ρησιςpanλαντανειν αυτονrhēsis) (cf. Acts 13:46).

Is hidden from him (πειτομαιlanthanein auton). Escapes his notice. Infinitive in indirect discourse after peithomai (I am persuaded).

Verse 27

I know that thou believest (οιδα οτι πιστευειςoida hoti pisteueis). Paul had “cornered” Agrippa by this direct challenge. As the Jew in charge of the temple he was bound to confess his faith in the prophets. But Paul had interpreted the prophets about the Messiah in a way that fell in with his claim that Jesus was the Messiah risen from the dead. To say, “Yes” would place himself in Paul‘s hands. To say “No” would mean that he did not believe the prophets. Agrippa had listened with the keenest interest, but he slipped out of the coils with adroitness and a touch of humour.

Verse 28

With but little persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian (εν ολιγωι με πειτεις Χριστιανον ποιησαιen oligōi me peitheis Christianon poiēsai). The Authorized rendering is impossible: “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” Εν ολιγωιEn oligōi does not mean “almost.” That would require ολιγου παρ ολιγονoligouδει ολιγουpar' oligon or εν ολιγοιdei oligou It is not clear, however, precisely what εν μεγαλωιen oligoi does mean. It may refer to time (in little time) or a short cut, but that does not suit well πειτειςen megalōi in Acts 26:29. Tyndale and Crammer rendered it “somewhat” (in small measure or degree). There are, alas, many “somewhat” Christians. Most likely the idea is “in (or with) small effort you are trying to persuade (ποιησαιpeitheis conative present active indicative) me in order to make me a Christian.” This takes the infinitive ποιησαιpoiēsai to be purpose (Page renders it by “so as”) and thus avoids trying to make γενεσταιpoiēsai like genesthai (become). The aorist is punctiliar action for single act, not “perfect.” The tone of Agrippa is ironical, but not unpleasant. He pushes it aside with a shrug of the shoulders. The use of “Christian” is natural here as in the other two instances (Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16).

Verse 29

I would to God (ευχαιμην αν τωι τεωιeuxaimēn an tōi theōi). Conclusion of fourth-class condition (optative with ανan), undetermined with less likelihood, the so-called potential optative (Robertson, Grammar, p. 1021). Polite and courteous wish (first aorist middle optative of ευχομαιeuchomai).

Whether with little or with much (και εν μικρωι και εν μεγαλωιkai en mikrōi kai en megalōi). Literally, “both in little and in great,” or “both with little and with great pains” or “both in some measure and in great measure.” Paul takes kindly the sarcasm of Agrippa.

Such as I am (τοιουτους οποιος και εγω ειμιtoioutous hopoios kai egō eimi). Accusative τοιουτουςtoioutous with the infinitive γενεσταιgenesthai Paul uses these two qualitative pronouns instead of repeating the word “Christian.”

Except these bonds (παρεκτος των δεσμων τουτωνparektos tōn desmōn toutōn). Ablative case with παρεκτοςparektos (late preposition for the old παρεκparek). Paul lifts his right manacled hand with exquisite grace and good feeling.

Verse 30

Rose up (ανεστηanestē). Second aorist active of ανιστημιanistēmi (intransitive), agreeing only with “the king” (ο βασιλευςho basileus). The entertainment was over.

Verse 31

They spake one to another (ελαλουν προς αλληλουςelaloun pros allēlous). Imperfect active, describing the eager conversation of the dignitaries about Paul‘s wonderful speech.

Nothing worthy of death or bonds (ουδεν τανατου η δεσμων αχιονouden thanatou ē desmōn axion). This is the unanimous conclusion of all these dignitaries (Romans, Jews, Greeks) as it was of Festus before (Acts 25:25). But Paul had not won any of them to Christ. The conclusion leaves Festus in a predicament. Why had he not set Paul free before this?

Verse 32

This man might have been set at liberty (Απολελυσται εδυνατο ο αντρωπος ουτοςApolelusthai edunato ho anthrōpos houtos). Conclusion of the second class condition (determined as unfulfilled) without ανan as in Acts 24:19 because of εδυνατοedunato (verb of possibility, Robertson, Grammar, p. 1014). Note perfect passive infinitive απολελυσταιapolelusthai from απολυωapoluō He certainly “could have been set free.” Why was it not done?

If he had not appealed unto Caesar (ει μη επεκεκλητο Καισαραei mē epekeklēto Kaisara). Condition of the second class with the past perfect middle indicative (op. cit., p. 1015) of επικαλεωepikaleō (cf. Acts 25:11.). But Paul only appealed to Caesar after Festus had tried to shift him back to Jerusalem and had refused to set him free in Caesarea. Festus comes out with no honour in the case. Since Agrippa was a favourite at court perhaps Festus would be willing to write favourably to Caesar.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 26:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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