Paul's Address Before King Agrippa.
SUMMARY.--Agrippa's Knowledge of the Law and the Jews.
Paul's Early Career and Hatred of Christ.
The Great Doctrine of the Resurrection.
The Manifestation of the Risen Lord to Paul Near Damascus.
Paul's Preaching of the Suffering Christ.
The Interruption of Festus and the Reply.
Paul's Personal Appeal to Agrippa.
The Decision That Paul Had Done Nothing Worthy of Bonds.
1. Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Not Agrippa, but
Festus had the authority in the province, but this meeting was arranged
in order that Agrippa might investigate the case and assist Festus in
formulating the charges (see
hence the king calls upon Paul to speak.
2, 3. I think myself happy, king Agrippa. Agrippa had been
brought up in the Jewish religion, professed to be a steadfast Jew, was
the legal guardian of the temple, and hence was well versed in all the
Jewish customs. He was therefore competent to be a judge of an
accusation of treason to the religion and law of their forefathers.
Paul felt it a privilege to defend himself before one who was prepared
to decide whether his preaching was contrary to Moses and the prophets,
or, on the other hand, a fulfillment of them.
4-8. My manner of life from my youth. He appeals to his life to
show that it had been consistent with the law. The Jews all knew that
he had been educated and had lived a Pharisee, the strictest of Jewish
sects. It was not because of a departure from the faith of his fathers
that he was accused, but he was
judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto the fathers.
That glorious promise, running through all the Jewish Scriptures, was
that the Messiah should come. For examples of the promise, see
Gen. 22:18; 49:10;
Deut. 18:15-19; Isa. 9:6, 7.
Paul not only believed in Moses and the
prophets, but believed that the promise God made to them was
Unto which promise. This promise was the hope of Israel. The
twelve tribes, in their constant, never-ceasing service of God, were
simulated by the hope that they would enjoy the fulfillment of the
Our twelve tribes. Paul, like James
speaks of the twelve tribes as having the same glorious hope. Since the
Captivity, the tribal existence of the ten northern tribes had not been
preserved, but descendants of all the tribes were mingled in the Jewish
nation. Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin,
John the Baptist of Levi,
Joseph and Mary of Judah,
of the tribe of Asher.
Why should it be thought incredible with you? This hope of
Israel involved the resurrection of Christ. This Moses and the prophets
taught. His countrymen accepted Moses and the prophets, but denied the
resurrection as a thing incredible. It was for this hope's sake, of a
risen Redeemer, that he was called in question. There was no doubt much
said which our record does not preserve, as we have only the outlines
9-11. I verily thought with myself. Next, in order to show his zeal
for Judaism, he describes his course as a persecutor. He was thoroughly
conscientious then in opposing Christ. For his course as a persecutor,
7:58; 9:1, 2; 22:4.
I gave my voice against them. "Vote," in the Revision. This
has been held to indicate that he was a member of the Sanhedrim. This
would hardly be doubted were it not that tradition declares that the
members of the Sanhedrim had to be married and fathers of a family.
Hence, some have held that Paul was a member of some lesser court
appointed by the Sanhedrim to try the Christians.
I punished them oft in every synagogue. "All the synagogues"
(Revision). Scourging was a not uncommon punishment in the synagogue
(Matt. 10:17; 23:34).
Compelled them to blaspheme. Terrified them into denying Jesus.
Even unto strange cities. Of these Damascus was one.
That he was a terrible persecutor, "exceedingly mad," raging, even
fanatical cannot be doubted from his own account.
12-18. As I went to Damascus. Compare
This is the third account of Paul's conversion, the first being in
and the second in
There are a few new details given here: (1) The over-powering glory of
the Lord is specially dwelt upon here; (2) we are here told that the
voice heard was in the
Hebrew tongue (he was now speaking Greek to King Agrippa). This
fact that he here states is remarkable. Bengel says: "The Hebrew
tongue, Christ's language when on earth; his language, too, when he
spoke from heaven." It was in the Aramaic, a Hebrew dialect, that the
Savior taught when on earth, and it is a significant circumstance that
Paul heard his voice in the same tongue to which Peter,
James and John had listened. Not only is this true, but critics hold
that the Hebraisms are so prominent in the Book of Revelation as to
indicate that the revelations there recorded were made in Hebrew, and
afterward translated by John into Greek. See Howson on Acts, p.
546. The proverb,
It is hard for thee to kick against the goad, is here added.
The mission of Paul to the Gentiles is described as being a part of the
I have appeared for this purpose. In order that he might be
a minister and a witness. It was needful that the apostle of the
Gentiles should see Christ. He must be a witness that the Lord had
risen. He was chosen for this work before conversion, because he was
honest, deeply conscientious, and possessed the great qualities that
were needful to fit him for the most important work ever assigned to
19-20. I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision. He could
still have disobeyed. His will was free, but he could only act in good
conscience by obeying Christ. He not only was baptized by Ananias
in Damascus, but, after some preparation, he began to preach,
first in Damascus
at Jerusalem, where he disputed against the Grecians
Just when he preached
throughout the coasts of Judea we are not informed. Hackett
thinks it was when he came up with help at the time of the famine
That they should repent. He preached more than a theory; he
preached a new life.
21-23. For these causes the Jews caught me. Because he obeyed and
I continue to this day. By the divine help. That had protected
him, because he was doing God's
work, and he was enabled to witness to all ranks.
Both to small and great. What he witnessed was only what Moses
and the prophets had said should come, viz.:
That Christ should suffer, rise, shew light to the people, and
to the Gentiles. In these things he had the support of Moses and
the prophets, and for these things he was accused. He was not at
variance with Moses and the law, but preached their meaning.
24-26. Paul, thou art beside thyself. The earnestness and fervor of
Paul were so strange to Festus, his doctrine of the resurrection so
novel, his manner so sincere, and his testimony so startling, that the
Roman could only explain it by a mental delusion. The display of such
vast knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures to Agrippa convinced him that
intense study resulted in derangement. It must not be forgotten that
Festus had just come into his position, and knew little of Paul.
I am not mad, most noble Festus. The courteous answer shows
the mistake of Festus, a mistake due to his ignorance of the
The king knoweth. The facts that he had cited in his
discourse were well known to the king, viz., the predictions of the
prophets, the hope of a Messiah, the death of Jesus, and the spread of
the congregations of those who believed that he was a risen Lord.
27-30. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? The king
professed to believe them. Yet those very prophets, as Paul had shown,
testified to all the facts of the career of Jesus of Nazareth and his
claims to Messiahship. This personal appeal deeply moved the king, as
his reply shows.
Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. The Revision
changes the translation somewhat,
but I have little doubt but that the Common Version gives the idea. The
king, like Felix
was deeply moved; the fact that he and Festus decided
that Paul was not a transgressors show that they were favorably
impressed; it was no occasion for an ironical answer, and Paul took the
remark as in earnest, and added still another appeal. Chrysostom,
Luther, Beza, Bengel and Howson take this view.
Paul said, I would to God, etc. His reply is courteous, but
of intense earnestness, a last effort to save souls that were deeply
stirred. He would that king and governor, all, Jew and Gentile, shared
his hope of a glorious inheritance, and were, like himself, at peace
with God;--such as he,
save these bonds. It is probable that his chains were then
hanging upon his arms, and that he indicated them by a gesture.
31, 32. When they had gone aside. Retired for private
conference. Their decision was that Paul had done nothing justifying
his imprisonment. The accusations of the Jews were groundless.
This man might have been set at liberty. His innocence was
clear, but after the appeal to Cæsar, the
case belonged to the higher courts, and Festus had no more power to
clear than to condemn. It was God's will that Paul should be carried
to Rome. There was work for him to do in the capital of the world