Acts 26 Commentary

Acts chapter 26 commentary Bible study

Acts Chapter 26 Commentary Bible Study


Acts 26:14-18 Kick Against the Goads
Acts 26:19-23 King Agrippa
Acts 26:24-29 Porcius Festus
Acts 26 Bible Study Questions (Handout)
ACTS 26:1  1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself." So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself:

Where is "Paul" (Acts 26:1)?
He is in Caesarea in an "auditorium with the commanders and the prominent men of the city" (Acts 25:23).

Who is "Agrippa" (Acts 26:1)?
Herod Agrippa II, who had come with his sister (see King Agrippa and Bernice) to greet Festus, the newly appointed Roman governor of Judea.

What does the detail "Paul stretched out his hand" (Acts 26:1) imply?
This is an eyewitness account. Luke, who recorded this account, most likely was also in the auditorium.

ACTS 26:2-3  2 “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, 3 especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.

Was Agrippa an "expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews" (Acts 26:3)?
Since he is the one who appointed the high priest of Israel and oversaw the temple in Jerusalem (see King Agrippa), he should have been.

ACTS 26:4-5  4 “My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. 5 They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

How would "all the Jews" (Acts 26:4) know Paul's "manner of life from ... youth" (Acts 26:4)?
Paul is referring to the Jews in the Sanhedrin who accused him (see Acts 23). They knew Paul from his youth because he was "brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel" (Acts 22:3).

ACTS 26:6-7  6 “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7 To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews.

For what "hope of the promise made by God" (Acts 26:6) is Paul being "judged" (Acts 26:6)?
The promised Messiah. Paul is framing the issue at hand as less about him and really about the Messiah. Christ would be the focus of his discourse.

How could the "twelve tribes" (Acts 26:7) of Israel hope to "attain" (Acts 26:7) the promised Messiah?
The original Greek word translated "to attain" is καταντησαι (katantesai), which means to "come to" or "arrive." Every generation of Jews had hoped "night and day" (Acts 26:7) to come upon the day when they would see the promised Messiah.

ACTS 26:8-9  8 “Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead? 9 “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

What is striking about Acts 26:8-9?
Paul jumps directly from the promised Messiah to the resurrection of "Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9). Moreover, the "you" in Acts 26:8 is plural in the original Greek, so Paul is directing this rhetorical question at not just "King Agrippa" (Acts 26:7) but his audience in the auditorium; the crucifixion of Jesus was such common knowledge that Paul assumed his audience to know it and skipped directly to His resurrection.

ACTS 26:10-11  10 “This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

Since he said that he "cast my vote" (Acts 26:10) against Christians, had Paul been a member of the Sanhedrin?
Paul would have been too young at the time to be a member of the Sanhedrin, which was reserved for older men. Paul used this expression figuratively to express his approval of the murder of Christians. After all, he had been one of their leading persecutors: "I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities" (Acts 26:11).

ACTS 26:12-13  12 “While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me.

What "authority and commission from the chief priests" (Acts 26:12) had Paul received?
To arrest Christians in Damascus and extradite them to Jerusalem: "Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem" (Acts 9:1-2).

What was the source of the "light from heaven, brighter than the sun" (Acts 26:13) that Paul saw?
The countenance of Jesus in heaven, which the apostle John described as best as humanly possible: "Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore" (Revelation 1:12-18).