RPM, Volume 18, Number 11, March 6 to March 12, 2016

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical
Part 45

By Albert Barnes

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 1

Verse 1. Men, brethren, and fathers. This defence was addressed to the Jews; and Paul commenced it with an expression of sincere respect for them. Stephen began his defence with the same form of address. See Barnes "Ac 7:2".

My defence. Against the charges brought against me. Those charges were, that he had endeavoured to prejudice men everywhere against the Jews, and the law, and the temple, Ac 21:28. In order to meet this charge, Paul stated,

(1.) that he had been born a Jew, and had enjoyed all the advantages of a Jewish education, Ac 22:3;

(2.) he recounted the circumstances of his conversion, and the reason why he believed that he was called to preach the gospel, Ac 22:4-16;

(3.) he proceeded to state the reasons why he went among the Gentiles, and evidently designed to vindicate his conduct there, Ac 22:17-21; but at this point, at the name Gentiles, his defence was interrupted by the enraged multitude, and he was not permitted to proceed. What would have been his defence, therefore, had he been suffered to finish it, it is impossible to know with certainty. On another occasion, however, he was permitted to make a similar defence, and perhaps to complete the train of thought which he had purposed to pursue here. See Ac 26.

{b} "Men" Ac 7:2

{c} "defence" 1 Pe 3:15

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 2

Verse 2. The Hebrew tongue. See Barnes "Ac 21:40".

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 3

Verse 3. Born in Tarsus. See Barnes "Ac 21:39".

Brought up in this city. In Jerusalem, sent there for the advantage of more perfect instruction in the law.

At the feet of Gamaliel. As a scholar, or disciple of Gamaliel. The phrase, to sit at the feet of one, is expressive of the condition of a disciple or learner. Comp. De 33:3; Lu 10:39. It is probable that the expression arose from the fact that the learners occupied a lower place or seat than the teacher. The phrase is expressive of humility and a lower condition. On the character and rank of Gamaliel, See Barnes "Ac 5:34".

Paul mentions his having been instructed in this manner, in order to show that he was entitled to the full privilege of the Jew, and that he had had every opportunity to become fully acquainted with the nature of the law.

According to the perfect manner. kata akribeian. By strict diligence, or exact care; or in the utmost rigour and severity of that instruction. No pains were spared to make him understand and practise the law of Moses.

The law of the fathers. The law of our fathers; i.e., the law which they received and handed down to us. Paul was a Pharisee; and the law in which he had been taught was not only the written law of Moses, but the traditional law which had been handed down from former times. See Barnes "Mt 3:6".

And was zealous towards God. Ga 1:14. He had a constant burning zeal for God and his law, which was expressed not only by scrupulous adherence to its forms, but by persecuting all who opposed it, Ac 22:4,5.

{d} "I am" Ac 21:39; 2 Co 11:22; Php 3:5

{+} "verily" "Indeed"

{e} "Gamaliel" Ac 5:34

{f} "according" Ac 26:5

{++} "perfect manner" "exactness"

{g} "zealous" Ga 1:14

{h} "ye all" Ac 21:20

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 4

Verse 4. And I persecuted, Ac 8:3.

This way. Those who were of this mode of worshipping God; that is, Christians. See Barnes "Ac 9:2".

Unto the death. Intending to put them to death, He did not probably put any to death himself, but he committed them to prison, he sought their lives, he was the agent employed in arresting them; and when they were put to death, he tells us that he gave his voice against them, Ac 26:10; that is, he joined in and approved of their condemnation.

Delivering into prisons, etc. Ac 8:3

{i} "persecuted" Ac 8:3

{&} "way" "Doctrine"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 5

Verse 5. As also the High Priest, etc. See Barnes "Ac 9:2".

All the estate of the elders. Greek, All the presbytery; that is, the whole body of the sanhedrim, or great council of the nation.

Unto the brethren. The Jewish brethren, who were at Damascus. Paul here speaks as a Jew, and regards his countrymen as his brethren.

{|} "doth" "Can"

{&} "estate of the elders" "Body"

{k} "Damascus" Ac 9:2

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 6

Verse 6. As I made my journey. As I was on my journey.

About noon. Ac 26:13. "At mid-day." This circumstance is omitted by Luke in account in Ac 9. Paul mentions it, as being the more remarkable since it occurred at mid-day, to show that he was not deluded by any meteoric or natural appearances, which usually occur at night.

See Barnes "Ac 9:3" and Ac 9:4-7

{**} "journey" "journeyed"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 7

Verse 7. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes "Ac 9:3" and Ac 9:4-7

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 8

Verse 8. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes "Ac 9:3" and Ac 9:4-7.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 9

Verse 9. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes "Ac 9:3, and Ac 9:4-7.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 10

Verse 10. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes "Ac 9:3, Ac 9:4-7.

{++} "of all things" "concerning"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 11

Verse 11. The gory of that light. The splendour, the intense brillancy of the light. See this and its effect explained See Barnes "Ac 9:8".

{+++} "the glory" "because of"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 12

Verse 12. See Barnes "Ac 9:17" See Barnes "Ac 9:18"

{m} "Aninias" Ac 10:22

{n} "good report" Ac 10:22; 1 Ti 3:7; Heb 11:2

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 13

Verse 13. See Barnes "Ac 9:17" See Barnes "Ac 9:18".

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 14

Verse 14. Shouldest know his will. His will in the plan of salvation, and in regard to your future life.

And see that Just One. The Messiah. See Barnes "Ac 3:14".

As Paul was to be an apostle. and as it was the peculiar office of an apostle to bear witness to the person and deeds of the Lord Jesus, See Barnes "Ac 1:21" See Barnes "Ac 1:22, it was necessary that he should see him, that thus he might be a competent witness of the resurrection.

Shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. Shouldest hear and obey his commands.

{a} "see" Ac 21:18; 1 Co 9:1; 15:8

{b} "Just One" Ac 3:14; 7:52

{c} "voice" 1 Co 11:23; Ga 1:12

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 15

Verse 15. For thou shalt be his witness, etc. As an apostle to testify to all men that the Messiah has come, that he has died, that he has risen, and that he is the Saviour of the world.

Of what thou hast seen and heard. Of the remarkable proof which has been furnished you of the Divine mission and character of the Lord Jesus.

{d} "thou shalt" Ac 23:11; 16:16

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 16

Verse 16. And now, why tarriest thou? Why dost thou delay, or wait any longer? These words are not recorded by Luke in Ac 9, where he has given an account of the conversion of Paul; but there is nothing here contradictory to his statement.

And wash away thy sins. Receive baptism, as an act expressive of the washing away of sins. It cannot be intended that the external rite of baptism was sufficient to make the soul pure, but that it was an ordinance divinely appointed as expressive of the washing away of sins, or of purifying the heart. Comp. Heb 10:22. Sinners are represented in the Scriptures as defiled or polluted by sin. To wash away the sins denotes the purifying of the soul from this polluted influence, 1 Co 6:11; Re 1:5; 7:14; Isa 1:16; Ps 51:2,7.

Calling on the name of the Lord. For pardon and sanctification. Ro 10:13, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." It was proper that this calling on the name of the Lord should be connected with the ordinance of baptism. That ordinance was expressive of a purifying which the Lord only could produce. It is proper that the rite of baptism should be attended with extraordinary prayer; and that he who is to be baptized should make it the occasion of peculiar and very solemn religious exercises. The external rite will avail nothing without the pardoning mercy of God.

{*} "tarriest" "delayest"

{e} "wash away" Heb 10:22; 1 Pe 3:21

{f} "calling" Ro 10:13; 1 Co 1:2

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 17

Verse 17. When I was come again to Jerusalem. That is, three years after his conversion. See Ga 1:17,18.

While I prayed in the temple. Paul, like the other converts to Christianity from among the Jews, would naturally continue to offer his devotions in the temple. We meet with repeated instances of their continuing to comply with the customs of the Jewish people.

I was in a trance. Greek, Ecstasy. See Barnes "Ac 10:10".

Perhaps he here refers to what he elsewhere mentions, 2 Co 12:1-5, which he calls "visions and revelations of the Lord." In that place he mentions his being "caught up to the third heaven," 2 Co 12:2, and "into paradise," where he heard words which it was "not possible for a man to utter," 2 Co 12:4. It is not certain, however, that he refers in this place to that remarkable occurrence. The narrative would rather imply that the Lord Jesus appeared to him in the temple in a remarkable manner, in a vision, and gave him a direct command to go to the Gentiles. Paul had now stated the evidence of his conversion, which appears to have been satisfactory to them: at least they made no objection to his statement; he had shown by his being in the temple his respect for their institutions; and he now proceeds to show that in his other conduct he had been directed by the same high authority by which he had been called into the ministry, and that the command had been given to him in their own temple and in their own city.

{g} "in a trance" 2 Co 12:2

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 18

Verse 18. And saw him. Evidently the Lord Jesus, Ac 22:14. He had received his commission from him, and he now received a distinct command to go to the Gentiles.

For they will not receive. The inhabitants of Jerusalem, probably including both Jews and Christians. The Jews would not listen to him, because he had become, in their view, an apostate, and they would hate and persecute him. The Christians would not be likely to receive him, for they would remember his former persecutions, and would be suspicious of him, because he had been so long in Arabia, and had not sooner connected himself with them. See Barnes "Ac 9:26, "And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple."

{h} "saw him" Ac 7:58

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 19

Verse 19. And I said, Lord. This shows that it was the Lord Jesus, whom Paul saw in a trance in the temple. The term Lord is usually applied to him in the Acts. See Barnes "Ac 1:24".

They know. Christians know; and they will therefore be not likely to receive to their fellowship their former enemy and persecutor.

Beat in every synagogue. Beating, or scourging, was often done in the synagogue. See Barnes "Mt 10:17".

Comp. Ac 26:11. It was customary for those who were converted to Christianity still to meet with the Jews in their synagogues, and to join with them in their worship.

{i} "they know" Ac 22:4

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 20

Verse 20. The blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed. Ac 7:58; Ac 8:1.

I also was standing by. Ac 7:58.

And consenting unto his death. Ac 8:1.

And kept the raiment. The outer robes or garments which were usually laid aside, when they engaged in running or labour. Ac 7:58. All this showed, that though Paul was not engaged in stoning Stephen, yet he was with them in spirit, and fully accorded with what they did. These circumstances are mentioned here by him, as reasons why he knew that he would not be received by Christians as one of their number, and why it was necessary, therefore, for him to turn to the Gentile world.

{+} "martyr" "witness"

{k} "I also" Ac 7:58

{l} "consenting" Ac 8:1

{++} "raiment" "mantles"

{&} "slew" "killed"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 21

Verse 21. And he said unto me, Depart. Because the Christians at Jerusalem would not receive him.

Far hence. Paul travelled far in the heathen nations. A large part of his time in the ministry was spent in remote countries, and in the most distant regions then known. Ro 15:19.

{m} "I will" Ac 13:2,47; Ro 1:5; 11:13; 15:16; Ga 2:7,8; Eph 3:7,8; 1 Ti 2:7

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 22

Verse 22. And they gave him audience. They heard him patiently.

Unto this word. The word .Gentiles.

Away with such a fellow. Greek, Take such a man from the earth; i.e., put him to death. It is language of strong indignation and abhorrence. The reasons of their indignation were not that they supposed that the Gentiles could not be brought into covenant with God, for they would themselves compass sea and land to make one proselyte; but they were,

(1.) that they believed that Paul taught that they might be saved without conforming to the law of Moses; and,

(2.) his speech implied that the Jews were more hardened than the Gentiles, and that he had a greater prospect of success in bringing them to God than he had in regard to the Jews.

{%} "lifted up" "raised"

{n} "it is not fit" Ac 25:24

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 23

Verse 23. Cast off their clothes. Their outer garments. Probably they did it now intending to stone him, Ac 7:58.

And threw dust into the air. As expressive of their abhorrence and indignation. This was a striking exhibition of rage and vindictive malice. Paul was guarded by Roman soldiers, so that they could not injure him; and their only way of expressing their wrath was by menaces and threats, and by these tokens of furious indignation. Thus Shimei expressed his indignation against David by cursing him, and throwing stones at him, and casting dust, 2 Sa 16:13.

{++} "clothes" "mantles"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 24

Verse 24. The castle. The tower of Antonia. He would be there removed entirely from the wrath of the Jews.

Should be examined. Anetazesyai. The word examine with us commonly means to inquire, to question, to search for, or to look carefully into a subject. The word here used is commonly applied to metals, whose nature is tested or examined by fire; and then it means to subject to torture or torments, in order to extort a confession, where persons were accused of crime. It was often resorted to among the ancients. The usual mode has been by the rack; but various kinds of torments have been invented in order to extort confessions of guilt from those who were accused. The whole practice has been one of the most flagrant violations of justice, and one of the foulest blots on human nature. In this case, the tribune saw that Paul was accused violently by the Jews; he was ignorant of the Hebrew language, and had not probably understood the address of Paul; he supposed from the extraordinary excitement that Paul must have been guilty of some flagrant offence, and he therefore resolved to subject him to torture, to extort from him a confession.

By scourging. By the scourge or whip. Comp. Heb 11:36. This was one mode of torture, in order to extort a secret from those who were accused.

{**} "chief captain" "Commander"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 25

Verse 25. Bound him with thongs. With cords, preparatory to scourging.

Is it lawful, etc. It was directly contrary to the Roman law, to bind and scourge a Roman citizen. See Barnes "Ac 16:36".

{a} "Roman" Ac 16:37; 25:16

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 26

Verse 26. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 27

Verse 27. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 28

Verse 28. With a great sum obtained I this freedom. This freedom, or privilege of Roman citizenship. From this, it would seem that the privilege of being a Roman citizen might be purchased. Perhaps he refers, however, to the expenses which were necessarily attendant in passing through the proper forms of becoming a Roman citizen. The argument of the tribune in this case is this:—"I obtained this privilege at a great price. Whence did you, Paul, thus poor and persecuted, obtain the means of becoming a Roman citizen?". Paul had informed him that he was a native of Tarsus, Ac 21:39; and the chief captain supposed that that was not a free city, and that Paul could not have derived the privilege of citizenship from his birth.

But I was free born. I was born a Roman citizen, or I am such in virtue of my birth. Various opinions have been formed on the question, in what way or for what reasons Paul was entitled to the privilege of a Roman citizen. Some have supposed that Tarsus was a Roman colony, and that he thus became a Roman citizen. But of this there does not appear to be sufficient proof. Pliny says, (5, 27,) that it was a free city. The city of Tarsus was endowed with the privileges of a free city by Augustus Caesar, after it had been greatly afflicted and oppressed by wars.—Appian. Dio Chrysost says to the people of Tarsus, "He (Augustus) has conferred on you everything which any one could bestow on his friends and companions—a country, (i.e. a free country,) laws, honour, authority over the river (Cydranus,) and the neighbouring sea." Free cities were permitted in the Roman empire to use their own laws and customs, to have their own magistrates, and they were free from being subject to Roman guards. They were required only to acknowledge the supremacy and authority of the Roman people, and to aid them in their wars. Such a city was Tarsus; and having been born there, Paul was entitled to these privileges of a free man. Many critics have supposed that this privilege of Roman citizenship had been conferred on some of the ancestors of Paul, in consequence of some distinguished military service. Such a conferring of the rights of citizenship was not unusual, and possibly might have occurred in this case. But there is no direct historical proof of it; and the former fact, that he was born in a free city, will amply account for his affirmation that he was free-born.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 29

Verse 29. Then straightway. Immediately. They saw that by scourging him they would have violated the Roman law, and exposed themselves to its penalty.

Which should have examined him. Who were about to torture him by scourging him, Ac 22:24.

Because he had bound him. Preparatory to scourging him. The act of binding a Roman citizen, with such an intent, untried and uncondemned, was unlawful. Prisoners who were to be scourged were usually bound by the Romans to a pillar or post; and a similar custom prevailed among the Jews. That it was unlawful to bind a man, with this intent, who was uncondemned, appears from an express declaration in Cicero, (against Vetres.) "It is a heinous sin to bind a Roman citizen; it is wickedness to beat him; it is next to parricide to kill him; and what shall I say to crucify him?"

{+} "straightway" "immediately"

{1} "examined"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 22 - Verse 30

Verse 30. On the morrow. After he had arrested Paul. Paul was still a prisoner; and if suffered to go at liberty among the Jews, his life would have been in danger.

And commanded the chief priests, etc. Summoned a meeting of the sanhedrim, or great council of the nation. He did this, as he was prevented from scourging Paul, in order to know what he had done, and that he might learn from the Jews themselves the nature of the charge against him. This was necessary for the safety of Paul, and for the ends of justice. This should have been done without any attempt to torture him in order to extort a confession.

And brought Paul down. From the elevated castle or tower of Antonia. The council assembled commonly in the house of the high priest.

And set him before them. He brought the prisoner to their bar, that they might have an opportunity to accuse him, and that thus the chief captain might learn the real nature of the charge against him.

{b} "because he would" Ac 23:28

{++} "bands" "chain"

{&} "appear" "Assemble"


THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 1

Verse 1. And Paul, earnestly beholding. Atenisav. Fixing his eyes intently on the council. The word denotes a fixed and earnest gazing; a close observation. See Lu 4:20. See Barnes "Ac 3:4".

Paul would naturally look with a keen and attentive observation on the council. He was arraigned before them, and he would naturally observe the appearance, and endeavour to ascertain the character of his judges. Besides, it was by this council that he had been formerly commissioned to persecute the Christians, Ac 9:1,2. He had not seen them since that commission was given, he would naturally, therefore, regard them with an attentive eye. The result shows, also, that Paul looked at them to see what was the character of the men there assembled, and what was the proportion of Pharisees and Sadducees, Ac 23:6.

The council. Greek, The sanhedrim, Ac 22:30. It was the great council composed of seventy elders, to whom was entrusted the affairs of the nation. See Barnes "Mt 2:4".

Men and brethren. Greek, "Men, brethren;" the usual form of beginning an address among the Jews. See Ac 2:29. Hie addressed them still as his brethren.

I have lived in all good conscience. I have conducted myself so as to maintain a good conscience. I have done what I believed to be right. This was a bold declaration, after the tumult, and charges, and accusations of the previous day, Ac 22; and yet it was strictly true. His persecutions of the Christians had been conducted conscientiously. Ac 26:9, "I verily thought with myself," says he, "that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth." Of his conscientiousness and fidelity in their service, they could bear witness. Of his conscientiousness since, he could make a similar declaration. And he, doubtless, meant to say, that as he had been conscientious in persecution, so he had been in his conversion, and in his subsequent course. And as they knew that his former life had been with a good conscience, they ought to presume that he had maintained the same character still. This was a remarkably bold appeal to be made by an accused man, and it shows the strong consciousness which Paul had of his innocence. What would have been the drift of Paul's discourse in proving this, we can only conjecture. He was interrupted, Ac 23:2; but there can be no doubt that he would have pursued such a course of argument as should tend to establish his innocence.

Before God. Greek, To God. tw yew. He had lived to God, or with reference to his commands, so as to keep a conscience pure in his sight. The same principle of conduct he states more at length in Ac 4:16: "And herein do I excuse myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men."

Until this day. Including the time before his conversion to Christianity, and after. In both conditions he was conscientious; in one, conscientious in persecution and error, though he deemed it to be right; in the other, conscientious in the truth. The mere fact that a man is conscientious does not prove that he is right, or innocent. See Barnes "Joh 16:2".

{c} "I have lived" Ac 24:16; 2 Co 1:12; Heb 13:18

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 2

Verse 2. And the High Priest Ananias. This Ananias was, doubtless, the son of Nebedinus, (Jos. Ant. xx. chap. v. § 3,) who was high priest when Quadratus, who preceded Felix, was president of Syria. He was sent bound to Rome by Quadratus, at the same time with Ananias, the prefect of the temple, that they might give an account of their conduct to Claudius Caesar. Josephus, Ant. b. xx. chap. vi. & 2. But in consequence of the intercession of Agrippa the Younger, they were dismissed, and returned to Jerusalem. Ananias, however, was not restored to the office of high priest; for, when Felix was governor of Judea, this office was filled by Jonathan, who succeeded Ananias. Josephus, Ant. b. xx. chap. x. Jonathan was slain in the temple itself, by the instigation of Felix, by assassins who had been hired for the purpose. This murder is thus described by Josephus, (Ant. b. xx. chap. viii. § 5 :)

Felix bore an ill-will to Jonathan, the high priest, because he frequently gave him admonitions about governing the Jewish affairs better than he did, lest complaints should be made against him, since he had procured of Caesar the appointment of Felix as procurator of Judea. Accordingly, Felix contrived a method by which he might get rid of Jonathan, whose admonitions had become troublesome to him. Felix persuaded one of Jonathan's most faithful friends, of the name Doras, to bring the robbers upon him, and to put him to death.

This was done in Jerusalem. The robbers came into the city as if to worship God, and with daggers, which they had concealed under their garments, they put him to death. After the death of Jonathan, the office of high priest remained vacant, until king Agrippa appointed Ismael, the son of Fabi, to the office. Josephus, Ant. b. xx. chap. viii. § 8. It was during this interval, while the office of high priest was vacant, that the events which are here recorded took place. Ananias was then at Jerusalem; and as the office of high priest was vacant, and as he was the last person who had borne the office, it was natural that he should discharge, probably by common consent, its duties, so far at least as to preside in the sanhedrim. Of these facts Paul would be doubtless apprized; and hence what he said Ac 23:5 was strictly true, and is one of the evidences that Luke's history accords precisely with the peculiar circumstances which then existed. When Luke here calls Ananias "the high priest," he evidently intends not to affirm that he was actually such; but to use the word as the Jews did, as applicable to one who had been ill that office, and who, on that occasion, when the office was vacant, performed its duties.

To smite him on the mouth. To stop him from speaking; to express their indignation at what he had said. The anger of Ananias was excited, because Paul affirmed that all that he had done had been with a good conscience. Their feelings had been excited to the utmost; they regarded him as certainly guilty; they deemed him to be an apostate; and they could not bear it that he, with such coolness and firmness, declared that all his conduct had been under the direction of a good conscience. The injustice of the command of Ananias is apparent to all. A similar instance of violence occurred on the trial of the Saviour, Joh 18:22.

{a} "smite him on the mouth" Joh 18:22

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 3

Verse 3. God shall smite thee. God shall punish thee. God is just; and he will not suffer such a manifest violation of all the laws of a fair trial to pass unavenged. This was a remarkably bold and fearless declaration. Paul was surrounded by enemies. They were seeking his life; and he must have known that such declarations would have only excited their wrath, and made them more thirsty for his blood. That he could thus address the president of the council was not only strongly characteristic of the man, but was also a strong proof that he was conscious of innocence, and that justice was on his side. This expression of Paul, "God shall smite thee," is not to be regarded in the light of an imprecation, or as an expression of angry feeling, but of a prediction, or of a strong conviction on the mind of Paul, that a man so hypocritical and unjust as Ananias was, could not escape the vengeance of God. Ananias was slain, with Hezekiah his brother, during the agitation that occurred in Jerusalem, when the robbers, or Sicarii, under their leader Manahem, had taken possession of the city. He attempted to conceal himself in an aqueduct, but was drawn forth and killed. See Josephus, Jewish Wars, b. ii. chap. xvii. 8. Thus Paul's prediction was fulfilled.

Thou whited wall. This is evidently a proverbial expression, meaning thou hypocrite. His hypocrisy consisted in his pretending to sit there to do justice; and yet, in commanding the accused to be smitten in direct violation of the law, he thus showed that his character was not what, by his sitting there, he professed it to be, but that of one determined to carry the purposes of his party, and of his own feelings. Our Saviour used a similar expression, to describe the hypocritical character of the Pharisees, Mt 23:27, when he compares them to whited sepulchres. A whited wall is a wall or enclosure that is covered with lime or gypsum, and that thus appears to be different from what it is, and thus aptly describes the hypocrite. Seneca (de Providentia, chap. 6) uses a similar figure to describe hypocrites: "They are sordid, base, and like their walls adorned only externally." See also Seneca, Epis. 115.

For sittest thou, etc. The law required that justice should be done; and in order to that, it gave every man an opportunity of defending himself. See Barnes "Joh 7:51" See Barnes "Pr 18:13" See Barnes "Le 19:15, See Barnes "Ex 23:1, See Barnes "De 19:15, See Barnes "De 19:18".

To judge me after the law. As a judge, to hear and decide the case according to the rules of the law of Moses.

Contrary to the law. In violation of the law of Moses, Le 19:35, "Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment."

{*} "shall smite" "will"

{b} "contrary" Le 19:35; De 25:1,2; Joh 7:51

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 4

Verse 4. Revilest thou, etc. Dost thou reproach or abuse the high priest of God? It is remarkable that they who knew that he was not the high priest should have offered this language. He was, however, in the place of the high priest, and they might have pretended that respect was due to the office.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 5

Verse 5. Then said Paul, I wist not. I knew not; I was ignorant of the fact, that he was high priest. Interpreters have been greatly divided on the meaning of this expression. Some have supposed that Paul said it in irony; as if he had said, "Pardon me, brethren, I did not consider that this was the high priest. It did not occur to me, that a man who could conduct thus could be God's high priest." Others have thought (as Grotius) that Paul used these words for the purpose of mitigating their wrath, and as an acknowledgment that he had spoken hastily, and that it was contrary to his usual habit, which was not to speak evil of the ruler of the people. As if he had said, "I acknowledge my error and my haste. I did not consider that I was addressing him whom God had commanded me to respect." But this interpretation is not probable, for Paul evidently did not intend to retract what he had said. Dr. Doddridge renders it, "I was not aware, brethren, that it was the high priest," and regards it as all apology for having spoken in haste. But the obvious reply to this interpretation is, that if Ananias was the high priest, Paul could not but be aware of it. Of so material a point, it is hardly possible that he could be ignorant. Others suppose, that as Paul had been long absent from Jerusalem, and had not known the changes which had occurred there, he was a stranger to the person of the high priest. Others suppose that Ananias did not occupy the usual seat which was appropriated to the high priest, and that he was not clothed in the usual robes of office, and that Paul did not recognize him the high priest. But these interpretations are not probable. It is wholly improbable that, on such an occasion, the high priest, who was the presiding officer in the sanhedrim, should not be known to the accused. The true interpretation, therefore, I suppose is, that which is derived from the fact that Ananias was not then properly the high priest; that there was a vacancy in the office, and that he presided by courtesy, or in virtue of his having been formerly invested with that office. The meaning then will be, "I did not regard or acknowledge him as the high priest. I did not address him as such, since that is not his true character. Had he been truly the high Priest, even if he had thus been guilty of manifest injustice, I would not have used the language which I did. The office, if not the man, would have claimed respect. But as he is not truly and properly clothed with that office, and as he was guilty of manifest injustice, I did not believe that he was to be shielded in his injustice by the law which commands me to show respect to the proper ruler of the people." If this be the true interpretation, it shows that Luke, in this account, accords entirely with the truth of history. The character of Ananias, as given by Josephus; the facts which he has stated in regard to him, all accord with the account here given, and show that the writer of the "Acts of the Apostles" was acquainted with the history of that time, and has correctly stated it.

For it is written. Ex 22:28. Paul adduces this to show that it was his purpose to observe the law; that he would not intentionally violate it; and that, if he had known Ananias to be high priest, he would have been restrained by his regard for the law from using the language which he did.

Of the ruler of thy people. This passage had not any peculiar reference to the high priest, but it inculcated the general spirit of respect for those in office, whatever that office was. As the office of high priest was one of importance and authority, Paul declares here that he would not be guilty of showing disrespect for it, or of using reproachful language towards it. {+} "wist" "knew" {c} "written" Ex 22:28; Ec 10:20; 2 Pe 2:10; Jude 1:8

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 6

Verse 6. But when Paul perceived. Probably by his former acquaintance with the men who composed the council. As he had been brought up in Jerusalem, and had been before acquainted with the sanhedrim, Ac 9:2, he would have an acquaintance, doubtless, with the character of most of those present, though he had been absent from them for fourteen years, Ga 2:1.

The one part, etc. That the council was divided into two parties, Pharisees and Sadducees. This was commonly the case, though it is uncertain which had the majority. In regard to the opinions of these two sects, See Barnes "Mt 3:7".

He cried out, etc. The reasons why Paul resolved to take advantage of their difference of opinion were probably,

(1.) that he saw that it was impossible to expect justice at their hands; and he, therefore, regarded it as prudent and proper to consult his safety, He saw, from the conduct of Ananias, and from the spirit manifested, Ac 23:4, that they, like the other Jews, had prejudged the case, and were driven on by blind rage and fury.

(2.) His object was to show his innocence to the chief captain. To ascertain that was the purpose for which he had been arraigned. Yet that, perhaps, could be most directly and satisfactorily shown by bringing out, as he knew he could do, the real spirit which actuated the whole council, as a spirit of party strife, contention, and persecution. Knowing, therefore, how sensitive they were on the subject of the resurrection, he seems, to have resolved to do what he would not have done had they been disposed to hear him according to the rules of justice—to abandon the direct argument for his defence, and to enlist a large part, perhaps a majority of the council, in his favour. Whatever may be thought of the propriety of this course, it cannot be denied that it was a master-stroke of policy, and that it evinced a profound knowledge of human nature.

I am a Pharisee. That is, I was of that sect among the Jews. I was born a Pharisee, and I ever continued while a Jew to be of that sect. In the main he agreed with them still. He did not mean to deny that he was a Christian, but that so far as the Pharisees differed from the Sadducees, he was in the main with the former. He agreed with them, not with the Sadducees, in regard to the doctrine of the resurrection, and the existence of angels and spirits.

The son of a Pharisee. What was the name of his father is not known. But the meaning is, simply, that he was entitled to all the immunities and privileges of a Pharisee. He had, from his birth, belonged to that sect, nor had he ever departed from the great cardinal doctrines which distinguished that sect—the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. Comp. Php 3:5.

Of the hope and resurrection of the dead. That is, of the hope that the dead will be raised. This is the real point of the persecution and opposition to me.

I am called in question. Gr., I am judged; that is, I am persecuted, or brought to trial. Orobio charges this upon Paul as an artful manner of declining persecution, unworthy the character of an upright and honest man. Chubb, a British Deist of the seventeenth century, charges it upon Patti as an act of gross "dissimulation, as designed to conceal the true ground of all the troubles that he had brought upon himself; and as designed to deceive and impose upon the Jews." He affirms also, that "St. Paul probably invented this pretended charge against himself, to draw over a party of the unbelieving Jews unto him." See Chubb's Posthumous Works, vol. ii. p. 238., Now, in reply to this we may observe,

(1.) that there is not the least evidence that Paul denied that he had been, or was then, a Christian. An attempt to deny this, after all that they knew of him, would have been vain; and there is not the slightest hint that he attempted it.

(2.) The doctrine of the resurrection of the dead was the main and leading doctrine which he had insisted on, and which had been to him the cause of much of his persecution. Ac 17:31,32; 1 Co 15; Ac 13:34 Ac 26:6,7,23,25.

(3.) Paul defended this by an argument which he deemed invincible, and which constituted, in fact, the principal evidence of its truth—the fact that the Lord Jesus had been raised. That fact had given demonstration to the doctrine of the Pharisees, that the dead would rise. As Paul had everywhere proclaimed the fact that Jesus had been raised up, and as this had been the occasion of his being opposed, it was true that he had been persecuted on account of that doctrine.

(4.) The real ground of the opposition which the Sadducees made to him, and of their opposition to his doctrine, was the additional zeal with which he urged this doctrine, and the additional argument which he brought far the resurrection of the dead. Perhaps the cause of the opposition of this great party among the Jews—the Sadducees—to Christianity, was the strong confirmation which the resurrection of Christ gave to the doctrine which they so much hated—the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. It thus gave a triumph to their opponents among the Pharisees; and Paul, as a leading and zealous advocate of that doctrine, would excite their special hatred.

(5.) All that Paul said, therefore, was strictly true. It was because he advocated this doctrine that he was opposed. That there were other causes of opposition to him might be true also; but still this was the main and prominent cause of the hostility.

(6.) With great propriety, therefore, he might address the Pharisees, and say, "Brethren, the great doctrine which has distinguished you from the Sadducees is at stake. The great doctrine which is at the foundation of all our hopes—the resurrection of the dead—the doctrine of our fathers, of the Scriptures, of our sect, is in danger. Of that doctrine I have been the advocate. I have never denied it. I have endeavoured to establish it, and have everywhere defended it, and have devoted myself to the work of putting it on an imperishable basis among the Jews and the Gentiles. For my zeal in that I have been opposed. I have excited the ridicule of the Gentile, and the hatred of the Sadducee. I have thus been persecuted and arraigned; and for my zeal in this, in urging the argument in defence of it, which I have deemed most irrefragable—the resurrection of the Messiah—I have been persecuted and arraigned, and now cast myself on your protection against the mad zeal of the enemies of the doctrine of our fathers. Not only, therefore, was this an act of policy and prudence in Paul, but what he affirmed was strictly true, and the effect was as he had anticipated.

{a} "a Pharisee" Ac 26:5; Php 3:5

{*} "of the hope" "concerning"

{b} "the hope" Ac 24:15,21; 26:6; 28:20

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 7

Verse 7. A dissension. A dispute or difference.

And the multitude. The council. Comp. Ac 14:4. The Pharisees embraced, as he desired and expected, his side of the question, and became his advocates, in opposition to the Saducees, who were arrayed against him.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 8

Verse 8. For the Sadducees say. They believe.

No resurrection. Of the dead. By this doctrine they also understood that there was no future state, and that the soul did not exist after death. See Barnes "Mt 22:23".

Neither angel. That there are no angels. They deny the existence of good or bad angels. See Barnes "Mt 3:7".

Nor spirit. Nor soul. That there was nothing but matter. They were materialists, and supposed that all the operations which we ascribe to mind, could be traced to some modification of matter. The Sadducees, says Josephus, (Jewish war, b. ii. chap. viii. &. 14,) "take away the belief of the immortal duration of the soul, and the punishments and rewards in hades." "The doctrine of the Sadducees is this," says he, (Ant: b. xviii, chap. i. & 4,) "that souls die with the bodies." The opinion that the soul is material, and that there is nothing but matter in the universe, has been held by many philosophers, ancient and modern, as well as by the Sadducees.

Confess both. Acknowledge, or receive both as true; i.e., that there is a future state, and that there are spirits distinct from matter, as angels, and the disembodied souls of men. The two points in dispute were,

(1,) whether the dead would be raised and exist in a future state; and, (2,) whether mind was distinct from matter. The Sudducees denied both, and the Pharisees believed both. Their belief of the latter point was, that spirits existed in two forms—that of angels, and that of souls of men distinct from the body.

{c} "Saducees say" Mt 22:23; Mr 12:18; Lu 20:27

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 9

Verse 9. A great cry. A great clamour and tumult.

The scribes. The learned men. They would naturally be the chief speakers.

Of the Pharisees' part. Who were Pharisees; or who belonged to that party. The scribes were not a distinct sect, but might be either Pharisees or Sadducees.

We find no evil in this man. No opinion which is contrary to the law of Moses; and no conduct in spreading the doctrine of the resurrection which we do not approve. The importance of this doctrine, in their view, was so great as to throw into the back ground all the other doctrines that Paul might hold; and provided this were propagated, they were willing, to vindicate and sustain him. A similar testimony was offered to the innocence of the Saviour by Pilate, Joh 19:6.

But if a spirit or an angel, etc. They here referred, doubtless, to what Paul had said in Ac 22:17,18. He had declared that he had gone among the Gentiles in obedience to a command which he received in a vision in the temple. As the Pharisees held to the belief of spirits and angels, and to the doctrine that the will of God was often delivered to men by their agency, they were ready now to admit that he had received such a communication, and that he had gone among the Gentiles in obedience to it, to defend their great doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. We are not to suppose that the Pharisees had become the friends of Paul, or of Christianity. The true solution of their conduct doubtless is, that they were so inflamed with hatred against the Sadducees, that they were willing to make use of any argument against their doctrine. As the testimony of Paul might be turned to their account, they were willing to vindicate him. It is remarkable, too, that they perverted the statement of Paul in order to oppose the Sadducees. Paul had stated distinctly, Ac 22:17,18,) that he had been commanded to go by the Lord, meaning the Lord Jesus. He had said nothing of "a spirit, or an angel." Yet they would unite with the Sadducees so far as to maintain that he had received no such command from the Lord Jesus. But they might easily vary his statements, and suppose that an "angel or a spirit" had spoken to him, and thus made use of his conduct as an argument against the Sadducees. Men are not always very careful about the exact correctness of their statements, when they wish to humble a rival.

Let us not fight against God. See Barnes "Ac 5:39".

These words are wanting in many MSS. and in some of the ancient versions. The Syriac reads it, "If a spirit or an angel have spoken to him, what is there in this?" i.e., what is there unusual or wrong.

{a} "no evil" Ac 25:25; 26:31

{b} "spirit" Ac 22:17,18

{c} "not fight" Ac 5:39

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 10

Verse 10. A great dissension. A great tumult, excitement, or controversy.

Into the castle. See Barnes "Ac 21:34".

{*} "dissension" "disturbance"

{+} "chief captain" "commander"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 11

Verse 11. The Lord stood by him. Evidently the Lord Jesus. See Barnes "Ac 1:24".

Comp. Ac 22:18. The appearance of the Lord in this case was a proof that he approved the course which Paul had taken before the sanhedrim.

Be of good cheer. It would not be remarkable if Paul, by these constant persecutions, should be somewhat dejected in mind. The issue of the whole matter was as yet doubtful. In these circumstances, it must have been peculiarly consoling to him to hear these words of encouragement from the Lord Jesus, and this assurance that the object of his desires should be granted, and that he would be permitted to bear the same witness of him in Rome. Nothing else can comfort and sustain the soul in trials, and persecutions, but evidence of the approbation of God, and the promises of his gracious aid.

Bear witness also at Rome. This had been the object of his earnest wish, Ro 1:10; 15:23,24, and this promise of the Lord Jesus was fulfilled, Ac 28:30,31. The promise which was here made to Paul was not directly one of deliverance from the present persecution, but it implied that, and made it certain.

{d} "stood by him" Ps 46:1,7; Ac 18:9; 27:23,24

{++} "good cheer" "courage"

{&} "witness" "testify"

{e} "Rome" Ac 28:30,31; Ro 1:15

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 12

Verse 12. Certain of the Jews. Some of the Jews. They were more than forty in number, Ac 23:13.

Banded together. Made an agreement, or compact. They conspired to kill him.

And bound themselves under a curse. See the margin. The Greek is, "they anathematized themselves;" i.e., they bound themselves by a solemn oath. They invoked a curse on themselves, or devoted themselves to destruction, if they did not do it. Lightfoot remarks, however, that they could be absolved from this vow by the Rabbins, if they were unable to execute it. Under various pretences they could easily be freed from such oaths, and it was common to take them; and if there was any difficulty in fulfilling them, they could easily apply to their religious teachers and be absolved.

That they would neither eat nor drink. That is, that they would do it as soon as possible. This was a common form of an oath, or curse, among the Jews. Sometimes they only vowed abstinence from particular things, as from meat or wine. But in this case, to make the oath more certain and binding, they vowed abstinence from all kinds of food and drink till they had killed him. Who these were—whether their were Sadducees or not—is not mentioned by the sacred writer. It is evident, however, that the minds of the Jews were greatly inflamed against Paul; and as they saw him in the custody of the Roman tribune, and as there was no prospect that he would punish him, they resolved to take the matter into their own hands. Michaelis conjectures that they were of the number of the Sicarii, or cut-throats, with which Judea then abounded. See Barnes "Ac 21:38".

It is needless to remark that this was a most wicked oath. It was a deliberate purpose to commit murder; and it shows the desperate state of morals among the Jews at that time, and the infuriated malice of the people against the apostle.

{|} "Certain" "Some"

{f} "Certain" Ac 23:21,30; 25:3

{1} "oath" "with an oath of execration"

{g} "till" Ps 31:13

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Which had made this conspiracy. This oath, sunwmosian, this agreement or compact. This large number of desperate men, bound of by so solemn an oath, would be likely to be successful; and the life Paul was therefore in peculiar danger. The manner in which they purposed to accomplish their design is stated in Ac 23:15.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 14

Verse 14. And they came, etc. Probably by a deputation.

To the chief priests and elders. The members of the great council, or sanhedrim. It is probable that the application was made to the party of the Sadducees, as the Pharisees had shown their determination to defend Paul. They would have had no prospect of success had they attacked the castle; and they therefore devised this ingenious mode of obtaining access to Paul, where they might easily despatch him.

Under a great curse. Greek, "We have anathematized ourselves with an anathema." We have made the vow as solemn as possible.

{h} "Chief Priests" Hos 4:9

{**} "slain" "killed"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 15

Verse 15. Ye, with the council. With the concurrence or request of the sanhedrim. It was only by such a request that they had any hope that the chief captain would remove Paul from the castle.

Signify to the chief captain. Send a message or request to him.

That he bring him down unto you. That he bring him from the castle to the usual place of the meeting of the sanhedrim. As this was at some distance from the castle, or tower of Antonia, where Paul was, they supposed it would be easy to waylay him, and take his life.

Tomorrow. This is wanting in the Syriac, Vulgate, and Ethiopic versions. It is, however, probably the correct reading of the text, as it would be necessary to convene the council, and make the request of the tribune, which might require the whole of one day.

As though ye would enquire, etc. This request appeared so reasonable that they did not doubt that the tribune would grant it to the council. And though it was obviously a false and wicked pretence, yet these conspirators knew the character of the persons to whom they addressed themselves so well, that they did not doubt that they would prevail On the council to make the request. Public justice must have been deeply fallen, when it was known that such an iniquitous request could be made with the certain prospect of success.

Or ever he come near. Before he comes near to the sanhedrim. The great council will thus not be suspected of being privy to the deed. We will waylay him, and murder him in the way. The plan was well laid; and nothing but the interposition of Providence could have prevented its execution.

{+} "chief captain" "Commander"

{++} "perfectly" "exactly"

{+++} "ever" "before"

{i} "ready to kill" Ps 21:11

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 16

Verse 16. Paul's sister's son. This is all we know of the family of Paul. Nor do we know for what purpose he was at Jerusalem. It is possible that Paul might have a sister residing there; though, as Paul had been sent there formerly for his education, it seems more probable that this young man was sent there for the same purpose.

Entered into the castle. Paul had the privileges of a Roman citizen; and as no well-founded charge had been laid against him, it is probable that he was not very closely confined, and that his friends might have free access to him.

{a} "he went" 2 Sa 17:17

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 17

Verse 17. Called one of the centurions. Who might at that time have had special charge of the castle, or been on guard. Paul had the most positive assurance that his life would be spared, and that he would yet see Rome; but he always understood the Divine promises and purposes as being consistent with his own efforts, and with all proper measures of prudence and diligence in securing his own safety. He did not rest merely on the Divine promise without any effort of his own; but he took encouragement from those promises to put forth his own exertions for security and for salvation.

{b} "Paul called" Pr 22:3; Mt 10:16

{*} "chief captain" "commander"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 18

Verse 18. And prayed me. And asked me.

{c} "prisoner" Ac 18:17; Eph 3:1; 4:1; Phm 1:9

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 19

Verse 19. Took him by the hand. As an expression of kindness and civility. He did it to draw him aside from the multitude, that he might communicate his message privately.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 20

Verse 20. And he said, etc. In what way this young man had received intelligence of this, we can only conjecture. It is not improbable that he was a student under some one of the Jewish teachers, and that he might have learned it of him. It is not at all probable that the purpose of the forty men would be very closely kept. Indeed, it is evident that they were not themselves very anxious about concealing their oath, as they mentioned it fully to the chief priests and elders, Ac 23:14.

{d} "have agreed" Ac 23:12

{+} "perfectly" "exactly"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 21

Verse 21. Looking for a promise from thee. Waiting for you consent to bring him down to them.

{e} "yield unto them" Ex 23:2

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 22

Verse 22. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 23

Verse 23. And he called unto him two centurions, etc. Each centurion had under him one hundred men. The chief captain resolved to place Paul beyond the power of the Jews, and to protect him as became a Roman citizen.

Two hundred soldiers. These foot-soldiers were designed only to guard Paul till he was safely out of Jerusalem. The horsemen only were intended to accompany him to Caesarea. Ac 23:32.

And horsemen. These were commonly attached to foot-soldiers. In this case, however, they were designed to attend Paul to Caesarea.

And spearmen. Dexiolabouv. This word is found nowhere else in the New Testament, and occurs in no classic writer. It properly means those who take, or apprehend by the right hand; and might be applied to those who apprehend prisoners, or to those who hold a spear or dart in the right hand for the purpose of throwing it. Some have conjectured that it should be read dexiobolouv, —those who cast or throw [a spear] with the right hand. So the Vulgate, the Syriac, and the Arabic understand it. They were probably those who were armed with spears or darts, and who attended on the tribune as a guard.

At the third hour of the night. At nine o'clock. This was in order that it might be done with secrecy, and to elude the band of desperadoes that had resolved to murder Paul. If it should seem that this guard was very numerous for one man, it should be remembered,

(1.) that the number of those who had conspired against him was also large; and,

(2.) that they were men accustomed to scenes of blood, of desperate characters, and who had solemnly sworn that they would take his life. In order, therefore, to deter them effectually from attacking the guard, it was made very numerous and strong, and nearly five hundred men were appointed to guard Paul as he left Jerusalem.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 24

Verse 24. And provide them beasts. One for Paul, and one for each of his attendants. The word translated beasts—kthnh of a general character, and may be applied either to horses, to camels, or to asses. The latter were most commonly employed in Judea.

Unto Felix the governor. The governor of Judea. His place of residence was Caesarea, about sixty miles from Jerusalem. See Barnes "Ac 8:40".

His name was Antonius Felix, and was a freedman of Antonia, the mother of the emperor Claudius. He was high in the favour of Claudius, and was made by him governor of Judea. Josephus calls him Claudius Felix. He had married three wives in succession that were of royal families, one of whom was Drusilla, afterwards mentioned in Ac 23:24, who was sister to king Agrippa. Tacitus (Hist. v. 9) says, that he governed with all the authority of a king, and the baseness and insolence of a slave. "He was an unrighteous governor, a base, mercenary, and bad man." (Clarke.) See his character further described See Barnes "Ac 24:25".

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 25

Verse 25. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 26

Verse 26. Unto the most excellent governor Felix. The most honoured, etc. This was a mere title of office.

Greeting. A term of salutation in an epistle wishing health, joy, and prosperity.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 27

Verse 27. Should have been killed of them. Was about to be killed by them. The life of Paul had been twice endangered in this manner, Ac 21:30; 23:10.

With an army. With a band of soldiers, Ac 23:10.

{f} "this man" Ac 21:33; 24:7

{++} "taken of the Jews" "seized by"

{&} "should have been killed" "would"

{|} "army" "with the soldiers"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 28

Verse 28. No Barnes text on this verse.

{g} "And when" Ac 22:30

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 29

Verse 29. Questions of their law. So he understood the whole controversy to be.

Worthy of death. By the Roman law. He had been guilty of no crime against the Roman people.

Or of bonds. Of chains, or of confinement.

{*) "accused of" "Concerning"

{a} "questions" Ac 18:15; 25:19

{b} "laid" Ac 26:31

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 30

Verse 30. No Barnes text on this verse.

{c} "when it was told" Ac 23:20,21

{d} "gave commandment" Ac 24:8; 25:6

{+} "straightway" "immediately"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 31

Verse 31. To Antipatris. This town was anciently called Cafar-Saba. Josephus says (Antiq. xiii. 23,) that it was about seventeen miles from Joppa. It was about twenty-six miles from Caesarea, and of course about thirty-five from Jerusalem. Herod the Great changed the name to Antipatris, in honour of his father Antipater. It was situated in a fine plain, and watered with many springs and fountains.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 32

Verse 32. They left the horsemen. As they were then beyond the danger of the conspirators, the soldiers who had guarded them thus far returned to Jerusalem.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 33

Verse 33. No Barnes text on this verse.

{e} "epistle" Ac 23:25-30

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 34

Verse 34. Of what province he was. Greek, Of what heparchy eparciav he was. He knew from the letter of Lysias that he was a Roman, but he was not informed of what place or province he was. This he doubtless did in order to ascertain whether he properly belonged to his jurisdiction. Roman provinces were districts of country which were entrusted to the jurisdiction of procurators. How far the jurisdiction of Felix extended is not certainly known. It appears, however, that it included Cilicia.

Was of Cilicia. Tarsus, the birthplace of Paul, was in this province, Ac 21:39.

{f} "Cilicia" Ac 21:39

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 23 - Verse 35

Verse 35. In Herod's judgment hall. Greek, In the praetorium of Herod. The word here used denoted, formerly, the tent of the Roman praetor; and as that was the place where justice was administered, it came to be applied to halls, or courts of justice. This had been reared probably by Herod the Great as his palace, or as a place for administering justice. It is probable also that prisons, or places of security, would be attached to such places.

{g} "accusers" Ac 24:1; 25:16

{h} "Herod's" Mt 27:27


THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 1

Verse 1. And after five days. This time was occupied, doubtless, in their receiving the command to go to Caesarea, and in making the necessary arrangements. This was the twelfth day after his arrival at Jerusalem. See Ac 24:11.

Ananias the High Priest. See Barnes "Ac 23:2".

Descended. Came down from Jerusalem. This was the usual language when a departure from Jerusalem was spoken of. See Barnes "Ac 15:1".

With a certain orator named Tertullus. Appointed to accuse Paul. This is a Roman name, and this man was doubtless a Roman. As the Jews were, to a great extent, ignorant of the Roman customs and laws, and of their mode of administering justice, it is not improbable that they were in the habit of employing Roman lawyers to plead their causes.

Who informed the governor against Paul. Who acted as the accuser, or who managed their cause before the governor.

{i} "Ananias" Ac 23:2; 25:2

{k} "who informed" Ps 11:2

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 2

Verse 2. And when he was called forth. When Paul was called forth from prison. See Ac 23:35.

We enjoy great quietness. This was said in the customary style of flatterers and orators, to conciliate his favour, and is strikingly in contrast with the more honest and straightforward introduction in the reply of Paul, Ac 24:10. Though it was said for flattery, and though Felix was in many respects an unprincipled man, yet it was true that his administration had been the means of producing much peace and order in Judea, and that he had done many things that tended to promote their welfare. In particular, he had arrested a band of robbers, with Eleazar at their head, whom he had sent to Rome to be punished, (Jos. Ant. b. xx. chap. viii.;) he had arrested the Egyptian false prophet, who had led out four thousand men into the wilderness, and who threatened the peace of Judea, See Barnes "Ac 21:38" and he had repressed a sedition which arose between the inhabitants of Caesarea and of Syria. Jos. Jewish Wars, b. ii. chap. xiii. 2.

Very worthy deeds. Acts that tended much to promote the peace and security of the people. He referred to those which have just been mentioned as having been accomplished by Felix, particularly his success in suppressing riots and seditions; and as, in the view of the Jews, the case of Paul was another instance of a similar kind, he appealed to him with the more confidence that he would suppress that also.

By thy providence. By thy foresight, skill, vigilance, prudence.

{l} "worthy deeds" Ps 12:2

{++} "providence" "prudence"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 3

Verse 3. We accept it always. We admit that it is owing to your vigilance, and we accept your interposition to promote peace, with gratitude.

Always, and in all places. Not merely in your presence, but we always acknowledge that it is owing to your vigilance that the land is secure. "What we now do in your presence, we do also in your absence; we do not commend you merely when you are present." (Wetstein.)

Most noble Felix. This was the title of office.

With all thankfulness. In this, there was probably sincerity, for there was no doubt that the peace of Judea was owing to Felix. But at the same time that he was an energetic and vigilant governor, it was also true that he was proud, and avaricious, and cruel. Josephus charges him with injustice and cruelty in the case of Jonathan, the high priest, (Ant. b. xx. chap. viii. § 5;) and Tacitus, (Hist. b. v. ch. 9,) and Suetonius, (Life of Claudius, ch. 28,) concur in the charge.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 4

Verse 4. Be not further tedious unto thee. By taking up your time with an introduction, and with commendation.

{&} "tedious" "troublesome"

{|} "clemency" "goodness"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 5

Verse 5. We have found this man a pestilent fellow. Loimon. This word is commonly applied to a plague, or pestilence; and then to a man who corrupts the morals of others, or who is turbulent, and an exciter of sedition. Our translation somewhat weakens the force of the original expression. Tertullus did not say that he was a pestilent fellow, but that he was the very pestilence itself. In this he referred to their belief, that he had been the cause of extensive disturbances everywhere among the Jews.

And a mover of sedition. An exciter of tumult. This they pretended he did by preaching doctrines contrary to the laws and customs of Moses, and exciting the Jews to tumult and disorder.

Throughout the world. Throughout the Roman empire, and thus leading the Jews to violate the laws, and to produce tumults, riots, and disorder.

And a ringleader. prwtostathn. This word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is properly a military word, and denotes one who stands first in an army, a standard-bearer, a leader, or commander. The meaning is, that Paul had been so active, and so prominent in preaching the gospel, that he had been a leader, or the principal person, in extending the sect of the Nazarenes.

Of the sect. The original word here airesewv is the word from which we have derived the term heresy. It is, however, properly translated sect, or party, and should have been so translated in Ac 24:14. See Barnes "Ac 5:17".

Of the Nazarenes. This was the name usually given to Christians by way of contempt. They were so called because Jesus was of Nazareth.

{a} "fellow" Lu 23:2; Ac 6:13; 16:20; 17:6; 21:28; 1 Pe 2:18,19

{*} "sedition" "insurrection"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 6

Verse 6. Who also hath gone about. Who has endeavoured.

To profane the temple. This was a serious, but unfounded charge. It arose from the gross calumny of the apostle, when they pretended that he had introduced Greeks into that sacred place, Ac 21:28. To this charge the apostle replies in Ac 24:18.

And would have judged. That is, would have condemned and punished.

According to our law. Their law, which forbade the introduction of strangers into the temple.

{+} "about" "attempted"

{b} "profane" Ac 19:37; 21:28

{++} "took" "seized"

{c} "according" Joh 18:31

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 7

Verse 7. But the chief captain, etc. Tertullus pretends that they would have judged Paul righteously, if Lysias had not interposed; but the truth was, that, without regard to law or justice, they would have murdered him on the spot.

{d} "chief captain" Ac 21:33

{&} "chief captain" "commander"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 8

Verse 8. Commanding his accusers, Ac 23:30.

By examining of whom. That is, the Jews who were then present. Tertullus presented them as his witnesses of the truth of what he had said. It is evident that we have here only the summary or outline of the speech which Tertullus made. It is incredible that a Roman rhetorician would have, on such an occasion, delivered an address so brief, so meager, and so destitute of display as this. But it is doubtless a correct summary of his address, and contains the leading points of the accusation. It is customary for the sacred writers, as for other writers, to give only the outline of discourses and arguments. Such a course was inevitable, unless the New Testament had been swelled to wholly undue proportions.

{e} "accusers" Ac 23:30

{|} "take knowledge" "Gain"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 9

Verse 9. And the Jews also assented. The Jews who had accompanied Tertullus to Caesarea. They had gone as the accusers of Paul; and they bore testimony, when called upon, to the truth of all that the orator had said. Whether they were examined individually or not, is not declared. In whatever way their testimony was arrived at, they confirmed unanimously the accusation which he had brought against Paul.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 10

Verse 10. Had beckoned unto him to speak. Either by a nod or by the hand.

Hast been of many years. Felix and Cumanus had been joint-governors of Judea; but after Cumanus had been condemned for his bad administration of the affairs, the government fell entirely into the hands of Felix. This was about seven years before Paul was arraigned before him, and with might be called many years, as he had been long enough there to become acquainted the customs and habits of the Jews; and it might also be called long in comparison with the short time which any of his immediate predecessors had held the office. See Josephus, Ant. b. xx. ch. vi., vii.

A judge. This word is evidently used here in the sense of magistrate, or one appointed to administer the affairs of government. To determine litigated matters was, however, one part of his office. It is remarkable that Paul did not begin his speech as Tertullus had done, by any flattering address, or by any of the arts of rhetoric. He founded his plea on the justice of his cause, and on the fact, that Felix had had so much experience on the affairs of Judea, that he was well qualified to understand the merits of the case, and to judge impartially. Paul was well acquainted with his character, See Barnes "Ac 24:25"and would not by flattering words declare that which was not strictly true.

I do the more cheerfully, etc. Since you are so well acquainted with the customs and habits of the Jews, I the more readily submit the case to your disposal. This address indicated great confidence in the justice of his cause; and was the language of a man bold, fearless, and conscious of his innocence.

{1} "governor" "Felix, made Procurator over Judea, A.D. 53"

{f} "answer" 1 Pe 3:15

{+} "myself" "make my defence"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 11

Verse 11. Because that thou mayest understand. Greek, "Thou being able to know." That is, he could understand or know, by taking the proper evidence. Paul does not mean to say that Felix could understand the case, because he had been many years a judge of that nation. That fact would qualify him to judge correctly, or to understand the customs of the Jews. But the fact that he had been but twelve days in Jerusalem, and had been orderly and peaceable there, Felix could ascertain only by the proper testimony. The first part of Paul's defence Ac 24:11-13 consists in an express denial of what they alleged against him.

Are yet but twelve days. Beza reckons these twelve days in this manner: The first was that on which he came to Jerusalem, Ac 21:15. The second he spent with James and the apostles, Ac 21:18. Six days were spent in fulfilling his vow, Ac 21:21,26. On the ninth day the tumult arose, being the seventh day of his vow, and on this day he was rescued by Lysias, Ac 21:27; 22:29. The tenth day he was before the sanhedrim, Ac 22:30; 23:10. On the eleventh the plot was laid to take his life; and on the same day, at evening, he was removed to Caesarea. The days on which he was confined at Caesarea are not enumerated, since his design in mentioning the number of days was to show the improbability that, in that time, he had been engaged in producing a tumult; and it would not be pretended that he had been so engaged while confined in a prison at Caesarea. The defence of Paul here is, that but twelve days occurred from the time that he went to Jerusalem, till he was put under the custody of Felix; and that during so short a time it was wholly improbable that he would have been able to excite sedition.

For to worship. This farther shows that the design of Paul was not to produce sedition. He had gone up for the peaceful purpose of devotion, and not to produce riot and disorder. That this was his design in going to Jerusalem, or at least a part of his purpose, is indicated by the passage in Ac 20:16. It should be observed, however, that our translation conveys an idea which is not necessarily in the Greek—that this was the design of his going to Jerusalem. The original is, "Since I went up to Jerusalem worshipping," proskunhswn i.e., he was actually engaged in devotion when the tumult arose. But his main design m going to Jerusalem, was to convey to his suffering countrymen there the benefactions of the Gentile churches. See Ac 24:17; Ro 15:25,26.

{h} "neither found me" Ac 25:8; 28:17

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Neither can they prove the things, etc. That is, that I am a mover of sedition, or a disturber of the peace of the people. This appeal he boldly makes; he challenges investigation; and as they did not offer to specify any acts of disorder or tumult excited by him, this charge falls of course.

{i} "prove the things" 1 Pe 3:16

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 14

Verse 14. But this I confess, etc. The next specification in the charge of Tertullus was, Ac 24:5, that he was "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes." To this, Paul replies in this and the two following verses. Of this reply we may observe,

(1.) that he does not stoop to notice the contempt implied in the use of the word Nazarenes. He was engaged in a more important business than to contend about the name which they chose to give to Christians.

(2.) He admits that he belonged to that sect or class of people. That he was a Christian he neither denied, nor was disposed to deny.

(3.) He maintains that in this way he is still worshipping the God of his fathers. Of this, the fact that he was engaged in worship in the temple, was sufficient proof.

(4.) He shows them that he believed only what was written in the law and the prophets; that this involved the main doctrine of their religion—the hope of the resurrection of the dead, Ac 24:15; and that it was his constant and earnest desire to keep a pure conscience in all things, Ac 24:16. These are the points of his defence to this second charge, and we shall see that they fully meet and dispose of the accusation.

After the way. After the manner or mode of worship.

Which they call heresy. This translation does not express to us the force of the original. We have attached to the word heresy an idea which is not conveyed by the Greek word, and now commonly understand by it, error of doctrine. In Paul's answer here, there is an explicit reference to their charge, which does not appear in our version. The charge of Tertullus was, that he was the ringleader of the sect thv airesewv of the Nazarenes, Ac 24:5. To this, Paul replies, "After the way which they call sect, (airesin, not error of doctrine, but after a way which they maintain is producing division or schism,) so worship I the God of my fathers." Paul was not ashamed to be called a follower of that sect or party among the Jewish people. Nor should we be ashamed to worship God in a mode that is called heresy or schism, if we do it in obedience to conscience and to God.

So worship I. I continue to worship. I have not departed from the characteristic of the Jewish people, the proper and public acknowledgment of the God of the Jews.

The God of my fathers. My fathers' God; Jehovah; the God whom my Jewish ancestors adored. There is something very touching in this, and fitted to find its way to the heart of a Jew. He had introduced no new object of worship, (comp. De 13:1-5;) he had not become a follower of a false or foreign God; and this fact was really a reply to their charge, that he was setting up a new sect in religion. The same thing Paul affirms of himself in 2 Ti 1:3: "I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with a pure conscience."

Believing all things, etc. Particularly respecting the Messiah. So he more fully explains his meaning in his speech before king Agrippa, Ac 26:23.

In the Law and in the Prophets. Commanded in the law of Moses, and foretold by the prophets. That Paul had ever disbelieved any of these things, they could not prove; and his whole course had shown that he fully credited the sacred records. Most of his arguments in defending Christianity had been drawn from the Jewish writings.

{*} "heresy" "A sect"

{a} "worship" Mic 4:5

{b} "God of my fathers" 2 Ti 1:3

{c} "written in the law" Lu 24:27; Ac 26:22; 28:23

{d} "in the prophets" Mt 22:40; Lu 16:16; Joh 1:45; Ac 13:15; Ro 3:21

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 15

Verse 15. And have hope toward God. Having a hope of the resurrection of the dead, which arises from the promises of God.

Which they themselves, etc. That is, the Pharisees. Perhaps he designated in this remark the Pharisees who were present, he held nothing in this great cardinal point, which they did not also hold. For the reasons why Paul introduced this point so prominently, and the success of thus introducing it, See Barnes "Ac 23:1, also Ac 23:2-9.

Both the just and unjust. Of the righteous and the wicked; that is, of all the race. As they held this, they could not arraign him for holding it also.

{e} "hope toward God" Ac 23:6; 26:6,7; 28:20

{+} "allow" "admit"

{f} "resurrection of the dead" Da 12:2; Joh 5:28,29; 1 Co 15:12-27; Re 20:6,13

{++} "unjust" "righteous and unrighteous"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 16

Verse 16. And herein. In this, or for this purpose.

Do I exercise myself. askw. I accustom or employ myself; I make it my constant aim and endeavour. It is the purpose of my constant study. Paul often appeals to his conscientiousness as the leading habit of his life. Even before his conversion he endeavoured to act according to the dictates of conscience. See Ac 26:9. Comp. Php 3:5,6.

To have always a conscience, etc. To do that which is right, so that my conscience shall approve of it, and never reproach me.

Void of offence. Aroskopon. That which is inoffensive, or which does not cause one to stumble or fall. lie means, that he endeavoured to keep his conscience so enlightened and pure in regard to duty, and that he acted according to its dictates in such a way, that his conduct should not be displeasing to God, or injurious to man. To have such a conscience implies two things:

(1.) That it be enlightened or properly informed in regard to truth and duty; and,

(2,) that that which is made known to be right should be honestly and faithfully performed. Without these two things, no man can have a conscience that shall be inoffensive and harmless.

Toward God. In an honest endeavour to discharge all the duties of public and private worship, and to do constantly what he requires. In believing all that he has spoken; doing all that he requires; and offering to him the service which he approves.

Toward men. In endeavouring to meet all the demands of justice and mercy; to advance their knowledge, happiness, and salvation; so that I may look back on my life with the reflection that I have done all that I ought to have done, and all that I could do, to promote the welfare of the whole human family. What a noble principle of conduct was this! How devoted, and how pure! How unlike the conduct of those who live to gratify debasing sensual appetites, or for gold or honour; and who pass their lives in such a manner as to offer the grossest offence to God, and to do the most injury to man! The great and noble aim of Paul was to be pure; and no slander of his enemies, no trials, persecutions, or perils, and no pains of dying, could take away the approving voice of conscience. Alike in his travels, and in his persecutions; among friends and foes; when preaching in the synagogue, the city, or the desert; or when defending himself before governors and kings, he had this testimony of a self-approving mind. Happy they who thus frame their lives. And happy will be the end of a life where this has been the grand object of the journey through this world.

{g} "have always" Ac 23:1

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 17

Verse 17. Now after many years. After many years' absence. Paul here commences a reply to the charges of Tertullus, that he had endeavoured to profane the temple, Ac 24:6. He begins by saying that his design in coming up to Jerusalem was to bring to them needed aid in a time of distress. It would be absurd to suppose, therefore, that his object in coming was to violate the customs of the temple, and to defile it.

I came to bring. See Ac 11:29,30. See Barnes "Ro 15:25".

Alms. Charities; the gift of the churches.

To my nation. Not to all the nation; but to the poor saints or Christians who were in Judea, and who were suffering much by persecutions and trials.

And offerings. The word used here properly denotes an offering or gift of any kind; but it is usually applied to an oblation, or offering made to God in the temple—a thank-offering, a sacrifice. This is probably its meaning here. He came to bring aid to his needy countrymen, and an offering to God; and it was, therefore, no part of his purpose to interfere with, or to profane the worship of the temple.

{h} "to bring alms" Ac 11:29,30; 20:16; Ro 15:25

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 18

Verse 18. Certain Jews from Asia. Ac 21:27.

Found me purified in the temple. Ac 21:26,27. They found me engaged in the sacred service of completing the observance of my vow.

Neither with multitude. Not having introduced a multitude with me—in a quiet and peaceful manner.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 19

Verse 19. Who ought to have been here, etc. They were the proper witnesses; as they had stayed away, it showed that they were not prepared to undergo a strict examination. Paul, therefore, justly complains that the very persons who alone could testify against him were absent, and showed that there was really no well-founded charge against him. They alone could testify as to anything that occurred in the temple; and as they were not present, that charge ought to be dismissed.

{i} "here before thee" Ac 25:16

{&} "object" "accuse me"

{|} "ought" "anything"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 20

Verse 20. Or else. Since they are not here to witness against me in regard to what occurred in the temple, let these here present bear witness against me, if they can, in regard to any other part of my conduct. This was a bold appeal, and it showed his full consciousness of innocence.

Let these same here say. The Jews who are here present. Any evil doing. Any improper conduct, or any violation of the law.

While I stood before the council. The sanhedrim, Ac 23:1-10. As they were present there, Paul admits that they were competent to bear witness to his conduct on that occasion; and calls upon them to testify, if they could, to any impropriety in his conduct.

{&} "evil doing" "crime"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 21

Verse 21. Except it be for this one voice. For this one expression, or decimation. This was what Paul had said before the council—the main thing on which he had insisted; and he calls on them to testify to this, and to show, if they could, that in this declaration he had been wrong. Chubb and other infidels have supposed that Paul here acknowledges that he was wrong in the declaration which he made, when he said, that he was called in question for the doctrine of the resurrection of the del (Ac 23:6,) and his conscience reproached him for appearing to be time-serving, and for concealing the true cause of offence against him; and for attempting to take advantage of their divisions of sentiment, and endeavouring to produce discord in the council. But against this interpretation we may urge the following considerations:

(1.) Paul wished to fix their attention on the main thing which he had said before the council.

(2.) It was true, as has been shown on the passage, (Ac 23:1-10), that this was the principal doctrine which Paul had been defending.

(3.) If they were prepared to witness against him for holding and teaching the resurrection of the dead as a false or evil doctrine, he called on them to do it. As this had been the only thing which they had witnessed before the council, he calls on them to testify to what they knew only, and to show, if they could, that this was wrong.

Touching the resurrection, etc. Respecting the resurrection, Ac 23:6.

{*} "one voice" "declaration"

{+} "cried" "proclaimed"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 22

Verse 22. Having more perfect knowledge of that way Our translation of this verse is very obscure, and critics are divided about the proper interpretation of the original. Many (Erasmus, Luther, Michaelis, Morus, etc.) render it, "Although he had a more perfect knowledge of the Christian doctrine than Paul's accusers had, yet he deferred the hearing of the cause till Lysias had come down." They observe, that he might have obtained this knowledge, not only from the letter of Lysias, but from public rumour, as there were doubtless Christians at Caesarea. They suppose that he deferred the cause, either with the hope of receiving a bribe from Paul, (comp. Ac 24:26,) or to gratify the Jews with his being longer detained as a prisoner. Others, among whom are Beza, Grotius, Rosenmuller, and Doddridge, suppose that it should be rendered, "He deferred them, and said, After I have been more accurately informed concerning this way, when Lysias has come down, I will hear the cause." This is doubtless the true interpretation of the passage, and it is rendered more probable by the fact that Felix sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith of Christ, (Ac 24:24,) evidently with a design to make himself better acquainted with the charges against him, and the nature of his belief.

Of that way. Of the Christian religion. This expression is repeatedly used by Luke to denote the Christian doctrine. See Barnes "Ac 9:2".

He deferred them. He put them off; he postponed the decision of the case; he adjourned the trial.

When Lysias, etc. Lysias had been acquainted with the excitement and its causes, and Felix regarded him as an important witness in regard to the true nature of the charges against Paul.

I will know the uttermost, etc. I shall be fully informed and prepared to decide the cause.

{a} "Lysias" Ac 24:7

{+} "chief captain" "commander"

{&} "I will know" "I will determine"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 23

Verse 23. And he commanded, etc. It is evident from this verse, that Felix was disposed to show Paul all the favours that were consistent with his safe keeping. He esteemed him to be a persecuted man, and doubtless regarded the charges against him as entirely malicious. What was Felix's motive in this cannot be certainly known. It is not improbable, however, that he detained him,

(1.) to gratify the Jews by keeping him in custody as if he were guilty; and,

(2.) that he hoped the friends of Paul would give him money to release him. Perhaps it was for this purpose that he gave orders that his friends should have free access to him, that thus Paul might be furnished with the means of purchasing his freedom.

{b} "liberty" Ac 27:3; 28:16

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 24

Verse 24. Felix came with his wife Drusilla. Drusilla was the daughter of Herod Agrippa the elder, and was engaged to be married to Epiphanes, the son of king Antiochus, on condition that he would embrace the Jewish religion; but as he afterwards refused to do that, the contract was broken off. Afterwards she was given in marriage, by her brother Agrippa the younger, to Azizus king of Emesa, upon his consent to be circumcised. When Felix was governor of Judea, he saw Drusilla, and fell in love with her, and sent to her Simon, one of his friends, a Jew, by birth a Cyprian, who pretended to be a magician, to endeavour to persuade her to forsake her husband, and to marry Felix. Accordingly, in order to avoid the envy of her sister Bernice, who treated her ill on account of her beauty, "she was prevailed on," says Josephus, "to transgress the laws of her forefathers, and to marry Felix." Josephus, Antiq. b. xx. chap. vii. § 1, 2. She was, therefore, living in adultery with him; and this was probably the reason why Paul dwelt in his discourse before Felix particularly on "temperance," or chastity. See Barnes "Ac 24:25".

He sent for Paul, and heard him. Perhaps he did this in order to be more fully acquainted with the case which was submitted to him. It is possible, also, that it might have been to gratify his wife, who was a Jewess, and who doubtless had a desire to be acquainted with the principles of this new sect. It is certain also that one object which Felix had in this, was to let Paul see how dependent he was on him, and to induce him to purchase his liberty.

Concerning the faith in Christ. Concerning the Christian religion. Faith in Christ is often used to denote the whole of Christianity, as it is the leading and characteristic feature of the religion of the gospel.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 25

Verse 25. And as he reasoned. Greek, "And he discoursing." dialegomenou de autou No argument should be drawn from the word that is used here, to prove that Paul particularly appealed to reason, or that his discourse was argumentative. That it was so, is indeed not improbable, from all that we know of the man, and from the topics on which he discoursed. But the word used here means simply, as he discoursed, and is applied usually to making a public address, to preaching, etc., in whatever way it is done, Ac 17:2; 18:4,19; 19:8,9; 24:12.

Felix and Drusilla intended this as a matter of entertainment or amusement. Paul readily obeyed their summons, as it gave him an opportunity to preach the gospel to them; and as they desired his sentiments in regard to the faith in Christ, he selected those topics which were adapted to their condition, and stated those principles of the Christian religion which were fitted to arrest their attention, and lead them to repentance. Paul seized every opportunity of making known the gospel; and whether a prisoner or at liberty, whether before princes, governors, kings, or common people, was equally prepared to defend the pure and holy doctrines of the cross. His boldness in this instance is the more remarkable, as he was dependent on Felix for his pardon. A timeserver or an impostor would have chosen such topics as would have conciliated the favour of the judge, and procured his pardon, he would have flattered his vanity, or palliated his vices. But such an idea never seems to have occurred to Paul. His aim was to defend the truth, and to save, if possible, the souls of Drusilla and of Felix.

Of righteousness, peri dikaiosunhv. Of justice. Not of the justice of God particularly, but of the nature and requirements of justice in the relations of life, the relations which we sustain to God and to man. This was a proper topic with which to introduce his discourse, as it was the office of Felix to dispense justice between man and man; and as his administration was not remarkable for the exercise of that virtue. It is evident that he could be influenced by a bribe, (Ac 24:26;) and it was proper for Paul to dwell on this as designed to show him the guilt of his life, and his danger of meeting the justice of a Being who cannot be bribed, but who will dispense equal justice alike to the great and the mean. That Paul dwelt also on the justice of God, as the moral Governor of the world, may also be presumed. The apprehension of that justice, and the remembrance of his own guilty life, tended to produce the alarm of Felix, and to make him tremble.

Temperance. Egkrateiav. The word temperance we now use commonly to denote moderation, or restraint in regard to eating and drinking, particularly to abstinence from the use of ardent spirits. But this is not its meaning here. There is no reason to suppose that Felix was intemperate in the use of intoxicating liquors. The original word here denotes a restraint of all the passions and evil inclinations; and may be applied to prudence, chastity, and moderation in general. The particular thing in the life of Felix which Paul had probably in view, was the indulgence of licentious desires, or incontinence. He was living in adultery with Drusilla; and for this, Paul wished doubtless to bring him to repentance.

And judgment to come. The universal judgment; the judgment that was to come on all transgressors. On this topic Paul also dwelt when he preached before the Areopagus at Athens, Ac 17:31. These topics were admirably adapted to excite the alarm of both Felix and Drusilla. It evinced great boldness and faithfulness in Paul to select them; and the result showed that he correctly judged of the kind of truth which was adapted to alarm the fears of his guilty auditor.

Felix trembled. In view of his past sins, and in the apprehension of the judgment to come. The Greek emfobov does not denote that his body was agitated or shaken, but only that he was alarmed, or terrified. That such fear usually shakes the frame, we know; but it is not certain that the body of Felix was thus agitated. He was alarmed and terrified; and looked with deep apprehension to the coming judgment. This was a remarkable instance of the effect of truth on the mind of a man unaccustomed to such alarms, and unused to hear such truth. It shows the power of conscience, when thus under the preaching of a prisoner the judge should be thrown into violent alarm.

And answered, Go thy way, etc. How different is this answer from that of the jailer of Philippi when alarmed in a similar manner. He asked, "What must I do to be saved?" and was directed to Him in whom he found peace from a troubled conscience, Ac 16:30,31. Felix was troubled; but instead of asking what he should do, he sent the messenger of God away. He was evidently not prepared to break off his sins, and turn to God. He sought peace by sending away his reprover; and manifestly intended then to banish the subject from his mind. Yet, like others, he did not intend to banish it altogether. He looked forward to a time when he should be more at leisure; when the cares of office should press less heavily on his attention; or when he should be more disposed to attend to it. Thus multitudes, when they are alarmed, and see their guilt and danger, resolve to defer it to a more convenient time. One man is engaged in a career of pleasure, and it is not now a convenient time to attend to his soul's salvation. Another is pressed with business; with the cares of life; with a plan of gain; with the labours of office, or of a profession, and it is not now a convenient time for him to attend to religion. Another supposes that his time of life is not the most convenient. His youth he desires to spend in pleasure, and waits for a more convenient time in middle age. His middle life he spends in business, and the toils of the world, and this is not a convenient time. Such a period he expects then to find in old age. But as age advances, he finds an increasing disposition to defer it; he is still indisposed to attend to it; still in love with the world. Even old age is seldom found to be a convenient time to prepare for heaven; and it is deferred from one period of life to another, till death closes the scene. It has been commonly supposed and said, that Felix never found that more convenient time to call for Paul. That he did not embrace the Christian religion, and forsake his sins, is probable, nay, almost certain. But it is not true that he did not take an opportunity of hearing Paul further on the subject; for it is said that he sent for him often, and communed with him. But though Felix found this opportunity, yet

(1) we have no reason to suppose that the main thing —the salvation of his soul— ever again occupied his attention. There is no evidence that he was again alarmed or awakened, or that he had any further solicitude on the subject of his sins. He had passed for ever the favourable time; the golden moments when he might have secured the salvation of his soul.

(2.) Others have no right to suppose that their lives will be lengthened out that they may have any further opportunity to attend to the subject of religion.

(3.) When a sinner is awakened, and sees his past sins, if he rejects the appeal to his conscience then, and defers it to a more convenient opportunity, he has no reason to expect that his attention will ever be again called with deep interest to the subject. He may live; but he may live without the strivings of the Holy Spirit. When a man has once deliberately rejected the offers of mercy; when he has trifled with the influences of the Spirit of God, he has no right or reason to expect that that Spirit will ever strive with him again. Such, we have too much reason to fear was the case with Felix. Though he often saw Paul again, and "communed with him," yet there is no account that he was again alarmed or awakened. And thus sinners often attend on the means of grace after they have grieved the Holy Spirit; they listen to the doctrines of the gospel, they hear its appeals and its warnings, but they have no feeling, no interest, and die in their sins.

A more convenient season. Greek, "Taking time." I will take a time for this.

I will call for thee. To hear thee further on this subject. This he did, Ac 24:26. It is remarkable that Drusilla was not alarmed. She was as much involved in guilt as Felix; but she, being a Jewess, had been accustomed to hear of a future judgment, until it caused in her mind no alarm. Perhaps also she depended on the rites and ceremonies of her religion as a sufficient expiation for her sins. She might have been resting on those false dependencies which go to free the conscience from a sense of guilt, and which thus beguile and destroy the soul.

{|} "reasoned" "discoursed"

{c} "righteousness" Pr 16:12; Jer 22:15-17; Da 4:27; Joh 16:8

{@} "righteousness" "Justice"

{d} "temperance" Pr 31:4,5; Da 5:1-4; Hos 7:5; 1 Pe 4:4

{e} "judgment" Ps 1:3,4; Da 12:2; Mt 25:31-46; 2 Co 5:10; Re 20:12

{a} "trembled" Ps 99:1; Isa 32:11; Hab 3:16; Heb 4:1,12

{b} "Go thy way" Pr 1:24-32; Mt 20:1-5; 25:1-10

{*} "call for thee" "send"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 26

Verse 26. He hoped also. He thought that by giving him access to his friends, and by often meeting him himself, and showing kindness, Paul might be induced to attempt to purchase his freedom with a bribe.

That money should have been given him of Paul. That Paul would give him money to procure a release. This shows the character of Felix. He was desirous of procuring a bribe. Paul had proved his innocence, and should have been at once released. But Felix was influenced by avarice; and he therefore detained Paul in custody, with the hope that, wearied with confinement, he would seek his release by a bribe. But Paul offered no bribe. He knew what was justice; and he would not be guilty, therefore, of attempting to purchase what was his due, or of gratifying a man who prostituted his high office for the purpose of gain. The Roman governors in the provinces were commonly rapacious and avaricious, like Felix. They usually took the office for the purpose of its pecuniary advantage, and they consequently usually disregarded justice, and made the procuring of money their leading object.

He sent for him the oftener. It may seem remarkable that he did not fear again being alarmed. But the hope of money overcame all this. And having once resisted the reasoning of Paul, and the strivings of the Spirit of God, he seems to have had no further alarm or anxiety. He could again hear the same man, and the same truth, unaffected. When sinners have once grieved God's Spirit, they often sit with unconcern under the same truth which once alarmed them, and become entirely hardened and unconcerned.

And communed with him. And conversed with him.

{c} "money" Ex 23:8

{+} "loose him" "release"

{++} "wherefore" "For which cause"

{&} "communed" "conversed"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 24 - Verse 27

Verse 27. But after two years. Paul was unjustly detained during all this time. The hope of Felix seems to have been to weary his patience, and induce him to purchase his freedom.

Came into Felix' room. As governor.

And Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure. Desirous of pleasing them, even at the expense of justice. This shows the principle on which he acted.

Left Paul bound. Left him in custody to the charge of his successor. His object in this was to conciliate the Jews; that is, to secure their favour, and to prevent them, if possible, from accusing him for the evils of his administration before the emperor. The account which Luke gives here coincides remarkably with that which Josephus has given. He says, that Porcius Festus was sent as successor to Felix by Nero. He does not indeed mention Paul, or say that Felix sought to conciliate the favour of the Jews; but he gives such an account as to make the statement by Luke perfectly consistent with his character while in office. He informs us that Felix was unpopular, and that there was reason to apprehend that the Jews would accuse him before the emperor; and, therefore, the statement in the Acts, that he would be willing to show the Jews a favour, is in perfect keeping with his character and circumstances, and is one of those undesigned coincidences, which show that the author of the Acts was fully acquainted with the circumstances of the time, and that his history is true. The account in Josephus is, that

when Porcine Festus was sent as successor to Felix by Nero, the principal inhabitants of Caesarea went up to Rome to accuse Felix; and he had been certainly brought to punishment, unlessNero had yielded to the importunate solicitations of his brother Pallas, who was at that time had in the greatest honour by him. [Antiq. b. xx. chap. viii. & 9.]

The plan of Felix, therefore, in suppressing the enmity of the Jews, and conciliating their favour by injustice to Paul, did not succeed; and is one of those instances, so numerous in the world, where a man gains nothing by wickedness. He sought money from Paul by iniquity, and failed; he sought by injustice to obtain the favour of the Jews, and failed in that also. And the inference from the whole transaction is, that "honesty is the best policy," and that man in any office should pursue a course of firm, and constant, and undeviating integrity.

{|} "room" "succeeded Felix"

{&} "shew the Jews a pleasure" "Gratify the Jews"

{&} "shew" Mr 15:15; Ac 25:9


THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 1

Verse 1. Now when Festus was come. See Barnes "Ac 24:27".

Into the province. The province of Judea; for Judea at that time was a Roman province.

After three days. Having remained three days at Caesarea.

He ascended. This was the usual language which described a journey to Jerusalem. Thus the English people speak of going up to London, because it is the capital. See Barnes "Ac 15:1".

To Jerusalem. The governors of Judea at this time usually resided at Caesarea; but as Jerusalem had been the former capital; as it was still the seat of the religious solemnities; as the sanhedrim held its meetings there; and as the great, and rich, and learned men, and the priests resided there, it is evident that a full knowledge of the state of the province could be obtained only there. Festus therefore, having entered on the duties of his office, early went to Jerusalem to make himself acquainted with the affairs of the nation.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 2

Verse 2. Then the High Priest. The high priest at this time was Ismael, the son of Fabi. He had been promoted to that office by Agrippa. Josephus' Antiq. b. xx. ch. viii. & 8. It is probable, however, that the person here intended was Ananias, who had been high priest, and who would retain the name. See Barnes "Ac 23:2".

Some Mss. read high priests here, in the plural number, and this reading is approved by Mill and Griesbach. There is, however, no improbability in supposing that the high priest Ismael might have been also as much enraged against Paul as the others.

Informed him against Paul. Informed him of the accusation against him; and doubtless endeavoured to prejudice the mind of Festus against him. They thus showed their unrelenting disposition. It might have been supposed that after two years this unjust prosecution would be abandoned and forgotten. But malice does not thus forget its object; and the spirit of persecution is not thus satisfied. It is evident that there was here every probability that injustice would be done to Paul, and that the mind of Festus would be biassed against him. He was a stranger to Paul, and to the embittered feelings of the Jewish character, he would wish to conciliate their favour on entering on the duties of his office. And a strong representation therefore, made by the chief men of the nation, would be likely to prejudice him violently against Paul, and to unfit him for the exercise of impartial justice.

{*} "informed against" "Brought an accusation"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 3

Verse 3. And desired favour against him. Desired the favour of Festus, that they might accomplish their wicked purpose on Paul.

Would send for him to Jerusalem. Probably under a pretence that he might be tried by the sanhedrim; or perhaps they wished Festus to hear the cause there, and to decide it while he was at Jerusalem. Their real motive is immediately stated.

Laying wait in the way to kill him. That is, they would lie in wait, or they would employ a band of Sicarii, or assassins, to take his life on the journey. See Barnes "Ac 21:38" See Barnes "Ac 23:12".

It is altogether probable that if this request had been granted, Paul would have been killed. But God had promised him that he should bear witness to the truth at Rome, (Ac 23:11;) and his providence was remarkable in thus influencing the mind of the Roman governor, and defeating the plans of the Jewish council.

{a} "laying wait" Ac 23:14,15

{+} "wait" "purposing to lie in wait"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 4

Verse 4. But Festus answered, etc. What induced Festus to refuse their request, is not known. It is probable, however, that he was apprized that Paul was a Roman citizen, and that his case could not come before the Jewish sanhedrim, but must be heard by himself. As Cesarea was also at that time the residence of the Roman governor, and the place of holding the courts, and as Paul was lodged there safely, there did not appear any sufficient reason for removing him to Jerusalem for trial. Festus, however, granted them all that they could reasonably ask, and assured them that he should have a speedy trial.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 5

Verse 5. Which among you are able. Enjoy all the advantages of a just trial, and exhibit your accusations with all the learning and talent in your power. This was all that they could reasonably ask at his hands.

{++} "wickedness" "anything amiss"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 6

Verse 6. More than ten days. See the margin. The Syriac reads it, "eight or ten." The Vulgate, "not more than eight or ten." The Coptic, "eight or ten." Griesbach supposes this to be the true reading, and has admitted it into the text.

Sitting in the judgment seat. On the tribunal; or holding a court for the trial of Paul.

Commanded Paul to be brought. To be brought up for trial. He had been secured but was placed in the care of a soldier, who was commanded to let him have all the freedom that was consistent with his security.

{&} "tarried" "passed"

{1} "more than ten days" "Or, as some copies read, no more than eight or ten days"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 7

Verse 7. Grievous complaints. Heavy accusations. Doubtless the same with which they had charged him before Felix, Ac 24:5,6. Comp. Ac 25:19.

Which they could not prove. Ac 24:13,19.

{|} "come" "when he appeared"

{&} "complaints" "accusations"

{b} "which they could not prove" Ps 35:11; Mt 5:11,12; Ac 24:5,13

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 8

Verse 8. While he answered, etc. See this answer more at length in Ac 24:10-21. As the accusations against him were the same now as then, he made to them the same reply.

{**} "for himself" "made his defense"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 9

Verse 9. But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure. Desirous of securing their favour, as he had just entered on his administration. Comp. Ac 24:27. In this he evinced rather a desire, of popularity than an inclination to do justice, Had he been disposed to do right at once, he would have immediately discharged Paul. Festus perceived that the case was one that did not come fairly within the jurisdiction of a Roman magistrate; that it pertained solely to the customs and questions among the Jews, (Ac 25:18-20;) and he therefore proposed that the case should be tried before him at Jerusalem. It is remarkable, however, that he had such a sense of justice, and law, as not to suffer the case to go out of his own hands. He proposed still to hear the cause, but asked Paul whether he was willing that it should be tried at Jerusalem? As the question which he asked Paul was one on which he was at liberty to take his own course, and as Paul had no reason to expect that his going to Jerusalem would facilitate the cause of justice, it is not remarkable that he declined the offer, as perhaps Festus supposed he would.

{++} "pleasure" "desiring to gratify the Jews"

{&&} "judged of" "concerning"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 10

Verse 10. Then said Paul, etc. The reasons why Paul declined the proposal to be tried at Jerusalem are obvious. He had experienced so much violent persecution from his countrymen, and their minds were so full of prejudice, misconception, and enmity, that he had neither justice nor favour to hope at their hands. He knew, too, that they had formerly plotted against his life, and that he had been removed to Cesarea for the purpose of safety. It would be madness and folly to throw himself again into their hands, or to give them another opportunity to form a plan against his life. As he was, therefore, under no obligation to return to Jerusalem, and as Festus did not propose it because it could be supposed that justice would be promoted by it, but to gratify the Jews, Paul prudently declined the proposal, and appealed to the Roman emperor.

I stand at Caesar's judgment seat. The Roman emperors, after Julius Caesar, were all called Caesar; thus, Augustus Caesar, Claudius Caesar, etc., as all the kings of Egypt were called Pharaoh, though they had each his proper name, as Pharaoh Necho, etc. The emperor at this time (A. D. 60) was Nero, one of the most cruel and impious men that ever sat on a throne. It was under him that Paul was afterwards beheaded. When Paul says, "I stand at Caesar's judgment-seat, he means to say that he regarded the tribunal before which he then stood, and on which Festus sat, as really the judgment-seat of Csesar. The procurator, or governor, held his commission from the Roman emperor, and it was, in fact, his tribunal. The reason why Paul made this declaration may be thus expressed:

I am a Roman citizen. I have a right to justice. I am under no obligation to put myself again in the hands of the Jews. I have a right to a fair and impartial trial; and I claim the protection and privileges which all Roman citizens have before their tribunals, the right of a fair and just trial.

It was, therefore, a severe rebuke of Festus for proposing to depart from the known justice of the Roman laws; and, for the sake of popularity, proposing to him to put himself in the hands of his enemies.

Where I ought to be judged. Where I have a right to demand and expect justice. I have a right to be tried where courts are usually held, and according to all the forms of equity which are usually observed.

Have I done no wrong. I have not injured their persons, property, character, or religion, This was a bold appeal, which his consciousness of innocence and the whole course of proceedings enabled him to make, without the possibility of their gainsaying it.

As thou very well knowest. Festus knew, probably, that Paul had been tried by Felix, and that nothing was proved against him. He had now seen the spirit of the Jews, and the cause why they arraigned him. He had given Paul a trial, and had called on the Jews to adduce their "able" men to accuse him; and, after all, nothing had been proved against him. Festus knew, therefore, that he was innocent. This abundantly appears also from his own confession, Ac 25:18,19. As he knew this, and as Festus was proposing to depart from the regular course of justice for the sake of popularity, it was proper for Paul to use the strong language of rebuke, and to claim what he knew Festus did not dare to deny him, the protection of the Roman laws. Conscious innocence may be bold; and Christians have a right to insist on impartial justice, and the protection of the laws. Alas! how many magistrates there have been like Festus, who, when Christians have been arraigned before them, have been fully satisfied of their innocence, but who, for the sake of popularity, have departed from all the rules of law, and all the claims of justice.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 11

Verse 11. For if I be an offender. If I have injured the Jews so as to deserve death. If it can be proved that I have done injury to any one.

I refuse not to die. I have no wish to escape justice. I do not wish to evade the laws, or to take advantage of any circumstances to screen me from just punishment. Paul's whole course showed that this was the noble spirit which actuated him. No true Christian wishes to escape from the laws. He will honour them, and not seek to evade them. But, like other men, he has rights; and he may and should insist that justice should be done.

No man may deliver me unto them. No man shall be allowed to do it. This bold and confident declaration Paul could make, because he knew what the law required, and he knew that Festus would not dare to deliver him up contrary to the law. Boldness is not incompatible with Christianity; and innocence, when its rights are invaded, is always bold. Jesus firmly asserted his rights when on trial, (Joh 18:23;) and no man is under obligation to submit to be trampled on by an unjust tribunal in violation of the laws.

I appeal unto Caesar. I appeal to the Roman emperor, and carry my cause directly before him. By the Valerian, Porcian, and Sempronian laws, it had been enacted, that if any magistrate should be about to beat, or to put to death, any Roman citizen, the accused could appeal to the Roman people, and this appeal carried the cause to Rome. The law was so far changed under the emperors, that the cause should be carried before the emperor, instead of the people. Every citizen had the right of this appeal; and when it was made, the accused was sent to Rome for trial. Thus Pliny (Ep. 10, 97) says, that those Christians who were accused, and who, being Roman citizens, appealed to Csesar, he sent to Rome to be tried. The reason why Paul made this appeal was, that he saw that justice would not be done him by the Roman governor. He had been tried by Felix, and justice had been denied him; and he was detained a prisoner in violation of law, to gratify the Jews. He had now been tried by Festus, and saw that he was pursuing the same course; and he resolved, therefore, to assert his rights, and remove the cause, far from Jerusalem and from the prejudiced men in that city, at once to Rome. It was in this mysterious way that Paul's long-cherished desire to see the Roman church, and to preach the gospel there, was to be gratified. See Barnes "Ro 1:9, and Ro 1:10,11. For this he had prayed long, (Ro 1:10; 15:23,24; ) and now at length this purpose was to be fulfilled. God answers prayer; but it is often in a way which we little anticipate. He so orders the train of events—he so places us amidst a press of circumstances—that the desire is granted in a way which we could never have anticipated, but which shows in the best manner that he is a hearer of prayer.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 12

Verse 12. When he had conferred with the council. With his associate judges, or with those who were his counsellors in the administratien of justice. They were made up ofthe chief persons, probably military as well as civil, who were about him, and who were his assistants in the administration of the affairs of the province.

Unto Caesar shalt thou go. He was willing in this way to rid himself of this trial, and of the vexation attending it. He did not dare to deliver him to the Jews in violation of the Roman laws; and he was not willing to do justice to Paul, and thus make himself unpopular with the Jews. He was, therefore, probably rejoiced at the opportunity of thus freeing himself from all the trouble in the case, in a manner against which none could object.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 13

Verse 13. And after certain days, king Agrippa. This Agrippa was the son of Herod Agrippa, (Ac 12:1,) and great grandson of Herod the Great. His mother's name was Cypros. Josephus' Jewish Wars, b. ii. chap. xi. & 6. When his father died, he was at Rome with the emperor Claudius. Josephus says that the emperor was inclined to bestow upon him all his father s dominions, but was dissuaded by his ministers. The reason of this was, that it was thought imprudent to bestow so large a kingdom on so young a man, and one so inexperienced. Accordingly, Claudius sent Cuspius Fadus to be procurator of Judea, and of the entire kingdom. Josephus' Antiq. b. xix. chap. ix. § 2., When Herod, the brother of his father Agrippa the Great, died in the eighth year of the reign of Claudius, his kingdom—the kingdom of Chalcis—was bestowed by Claudius on Agrippa. Josephus' Antiq. b. xx. chap. v. & 2. Afterwards he bestowed on him the tetrarchy of Philip and Batanea, and added to it Trachonitis with Abila. Antiq. b. xx. chap. vii. § 1. After the death of Claudius, Nero his successor added to his dominions Julius in Perea, and a part of Galilee. Agrippa had been brought up at Rome; and was strongly attached to the Romans. When the troubles commenced in Judea which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem, he did all that he could to preserve peace and order, but in vain. He afterwards joined his troops with those of the Romans, and assisted them at the destruction of Jerusalem. After the captivity of that city, he went to Rome with his sister Bernice, where he ended his days. He died at the age of seventy years, about A.D. 90. His manner of living with his sister gave occasion to reports respecting him very little to his advantage.

And Bernice. She was sister of Agrippa. She had been married to Herod, king of Chalcis, her own uncle by her father's side. After his death, she proposed to Polemon, king of Pontus and part of Cilicia, that if he would become circumcised she would marry him. He complied, but she did not continue long with him. After she left him, she returned to her brother Agrippa, with whom she lived in a manner such as to excite scandal. Josephus directly charges her with incest with her brother Agrippa. Antiq. b. xx. chap. vii. § 3.

To salute Festus. To show him respect as the governor of Judea.

{*} "certain days" "some"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 14

Verse 14. Festus declared Paul's case. He did this, probably, because Agrippa, being a Jew, would be supposed to be interested in the case. It was natural that this trial should be a topic of conversation, and perhaps Festus might be disposed to ask what was proper to be done in such cases.

Left in bonds. Greek, "a prisoner"—desmiov. He was left in custody, probably in the keeping of a soldier, Ac 24:23,27.

{*} "bonds" "left a prisoner"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 15

Verse 15. About whom, etc. Ac 25:1-5.

To have judgment against him. Thome have him condemned.

{a} "when I was at Jerusalem" Ac 25:2,3

{+} "informed me" "laid an information"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 16

Verse 16. It is not the manner, etc. He here states the reasons which he gave to the Jews for not delivering Paul into their hands. In Ac 25:4,5, we have an account of the fact that he would not accede to the requests of the Jews; and he here states that the reason of his refusal was, that it was contrary to the Roman law. Appian, in his Roman history, says, "It is not their custom to condemn men before they are heard." Philo de Preesi. Rom. says the same thing. In Tacitus (Annul. ii.) it is said, "A defendant is not to be prohibited from adducing all things, by which his innocence may be established." It was for this that the equity of the Roman jurisprudence was celebrated throughout the world. We may remark, that it is a subject of sincere gratitude to the God of our nation, that this privilege is enjoyed in the highest perfection in this land. It is the privilege of every man here to be heard; to know the charges against him; to be confronted with the witnesses; to make his defence; and to be tried by the laws, and not by the passions and caprices of men. In this respect our jurisprudence surpasses all that Rome ever enjoyed; and is not inferior to that of the most favoured nation of the earth.

To deliver. To give him up as a favour—carizesyai—to popular clamour and caprice. Yet our Saviour, in violation of the Roman laws, was thus given up by Pilate, Mt 27:18-25.

Have the accusers face to face. That he may know who they are, and hear their accusations, and refute them. Nothing contributes more to justice than this. Tyrants suffer men to be accused without knowing who the accusers are, and without an opportunity of meeting the charges. It is one great principle of modem jurisprudence, that the accused may know the accusers, and be permitted to confront the witnesses, and adduce all the testimony possible in his own defence.

And have license. Greek, "Place of apology," may have the liberty of defending himself.

{++} "manner" "custom"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 17

Verse 17. Therefore, when they were come hither, etc. See Ac 25:6.

{b} "when they" Ac 25:6

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 18

Verse 18. None accusation, etc. No charge as I expected of a breach of the peace; of a violation of the Roman law; of atrocious crime. It was natural that Festus should suppose that they would accuse Paul of some such offence. He had been arraigned before Felix; had been two years in custody; and the Jews were exceedingly violent against him. All this, Festus would presume, must have arisen from some flagrant and open violation of the laws.

{%} "none accusation" "No"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 19

Verse 19. But had certain questions. Certain inquiries, or litigated and disputed subjects; certain points of dispute in which they differed. zhthmata tina.

Of their own superstition. deisidaimoniav.

This word properly denotes the worship or fear of demons; but was applied by the Greeks and Romans to the worship of their gods. It is the same word which is used in Ac 17:22, where it is used in a good sense. See Barnes "Ac 17:22".

There are two reasons for thinking that Festus used the word here in a good sense, and not in the sense in which we use the word superstition.

(1.) It was the word by which the worship of the Greeks and Romans, and therefore of Festus himself, was denoted, and he would naturally use it in a similar sense in applying it to the Jews. He would wish simply to describe their worship in such language as he was accustomed to use when speaking of religion.

(2.) He knew that Agrippa was a Jew. Festus would not probably speak of the religion of his royal guest as superstition, but would speak of it with respect. He meant, therefore, to say simply that they had certain inquiries about their own religion; but accused him of no crime against the Roman laws.

And of one Jesus, which was dead. Gr., "Of one dead Jesus." It is evident that Festus had no belief that Jesus had been raised up; and in this he would expect that Agrippa would concur with him. Paul had admitted that Jesus had been put to death; but he maintained that he had been raised from the dead. As Festus did not believe this, he spoke of it with the utmost contempt. "They had a dispute about one dead Jesus, whom Paul affirmed to be alive." In this manner a Roman magistrate could speak of the glorious truth of the Christian religion; and this shows the spirit with which the great mass of philosophers and statesmen regarded its doctrines.

{c} "But had certain" Ac 18:15

{|} "certain" "some"

{%} "superstition" "Religion"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 20

Verse 20. And because I doubted of such manner of questions. See the margin. Because I hesitated about the right way of disposing of them; because I was ignorant of their nature and bearing, I proposed to go to Jerusalem, that the matter might be there more fully investigated. It is obvious, that if Paul was not found guilty of any violation of the laws, he should have been at once discharged. Some interpreters understand this as affirming that he was not satisfied about the question of Paul's innocence, or certain whether he ought to be set at liberty or not.

{1} "doubted" "Or, I was doubtful how to inquire hereof"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 21

Verse 21. But when Paul had appealed. Ac 25:11.

To be reserved. To be kept; not to be tried at Jerusalem, but to be sent to Rome for trial.

Unto the hearing. Margin, "the judgment." That Augustus might hear and decide the cause.

Of Augustus. The reigning emperor at this time was Nero. The name Augustus—sebastou—properly denotes that which is venerable, or worthy of honour and reverence. It was first applied to Caesar Octavianus, who was the Roman emperor in the time when our Saviour was born, and who is usually called Augustus Caesar. But the title continued to be used of his successors in office, as denoting the veneration or reverence which was due to the rank of emperor.

{2} "the hearing of Augustus" "judgment"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 22

Verse 22. Then Agrippa said, etc. Agrippa doubtless had heard much of the fame of Jesus, and of the new sect of Christians; and probably he was induced by mere curiosity to hear what Paul could say in explanation and defence of the doctrine of Christianity. This wish of Agrippa gave occasion to the noblest defence which was ever made before any tribunal, and to as splendid eloquence as can be found anywhere in any language. See Ac 26.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 23

Verse 23. With great pomp. Gr., "With much phantasy"—fantasiav—, with much show, parade, and splendour, it was an occasion on which he could exhibit much of the splendour of royalty, and he chose to do it.

Into the place of hearing. The court-room, or the place where the judges heard and tried causes.

With the chief captains. Gr., The chiliarchs; the commanders of a thousand men. It means here that the military officers were assembled.

The principal men of the city. The civil officers, or the men of reputation and influence.

{d} "pomp" Eze 7:24

{**} "chief captains" "commanders"

{e} "Paul" Ac 9:15

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 24

Verse 24. Have dealt with me. Have appeared before me, desiring me to try him. They have urged me to condemn him.

Crying out, etc. Ac 22:22. They had sought that he should be put to death.

{a} "all the multitude" Ac 25:3,7

{*} "with me" "Applied to me"

{b} "that he ought" Ac 22:22

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 25

Verse 25. No Barnes text on this verse.

{c} "nothing worthy" Ac 23:9,29; 26:31

{d} "appealed to Augustus" Ac 25:11,12

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 26

Verse 26. Of whom. Respecting his character, opinions, manner of life, and respecting the charges against him.

No certain thing. Nothing definite, and well established. They had not accused Paul of any crime against the Roman laws; and Festus professes himself too ignorant of the customs of the Jews to inform the emperor distinctly of the nature of the charges, and the subject of trial.

Unto my lord. To the emperor; to Caesar. This name lord the emperors Augustus and Tiberius had rejected, and would not suffer it to be applied to them. Suetonius (Life of Augustus, v. 53) says, "The appellation of Lord he always abhorred as abominable and execrable." See also Suetonius' Life of Tiberius, v. 27. The emperors that succeeded them, however, admitted the title, and suffered themselves to be called by this name. Nothing would be more satisfactory to Nero, the reigning emperor, than this title.

I might have somewhat to write. As Agrippa was a Jew, and was acquainted with the customs and doctrine of the Jews, Festus supposed that, after hearing Paul, he would be able to inform him of the exact nature of these charges, so that he could present the case intelligibly to the emperor.

{+} "lord" "Our sovereign"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 25 - Verse 27

Verse 27. For it seemeth to me unreasonable, Festus felt that he was placed in an embarrassing situation, he was about to send a prisoner to Rome to be tried, who had been tried by himself, and who had appealed from his jurisdiction; and yet he was ignorant of the charges against him, and of the nature of his offences, if any had been committed. When prisoners were thus sent to Rome to be tried before the emperor, it would be proper that the charges should be all specified, and the evidence stated by which they were supported. Yet Festus could do neither; and it is not wonderful that he felt himself perplexed and embarrassed; and that he was glad to avail himself of the desire which Agrippa had expressed to hear Paul, that he might be able to specify the charges against him.

Withal. Also; at the same time.

To signify. To specify, or make them known. In concluding this chapter, we may observe:

(1.) That in the case of Agrippa, we have an instance of the reasons which induce many men to hear the gospel, he had no belief in it; he had no concern for its truth or its promises; but he was led by curiosity to desire to hear the minister of the gospel of Christ. Curiosity thus draws multitudes to the sanctuary. In many instances they remain unaffected and unconcerned in regard to its provisions of mercy. They listen, and are unmoved, and die in their sins. In many instances, like Agrippa, they are almost persuaded to be Christians, Ac 26:28. But, like him, they resist the appeals; and die uninterested in the plan of salvation. In some instances, they are converted; and their curiosity, like that of Zaccheus, is made the means of their embracing the Saviour, Lu 19:1-9. Whatever may be the motive which induces men to desire to hear, it is the duty of the ministry cheerfully and thankfully, like Paul, to state the truth, and to defend the Christian religion.

(2.) In Festus we have a specimen of the manner in which the great men, and the rich, and the proud, usually regard Christianity. They esteem it to be a subject of inquiry in which they have no interest; a question about "one dead Jesus," whom Christians affirm to be alive. Whether he be alive or not, whether Christianity be true or false, they suppose, is an inquiry which does not pertain to them. Strange that it did not occur to Festus that if he was alive, his religion was true; and that it was possible that it might be from God. And strange that the men of this world regard the Christian religion as a subject in which they have no personal interest, but as one concerning which Christians only should inquire, and in which they alone should feel any concern.

(3.) In Paul we have the example of a man unlike both Festus and Agrippa. He felt a deep interest in the subject—a subject which pertained as much to them as to him. He was willing not only to look at it with curiosity, but to stake his life, his reputation, his all, on its truth, he was willing to defend it everywhere, and before any class of men. At the same time that he urged his rights as a Roman citizen, yet it was mainly that he might preach the gospel. At the same time that he was anxious to secure justice to himself, yet his chief anxiety was to declare the truth of God. Before any tribunal, before any class of men, in the presence of princes, nobles, and kings, of Romans and of Jews, he was ready to pour forth irresistible eloquence and argument in defence of the truth. Who would not rather be Paul than either Festus or Agrippa? Who would not rather be a prisoner like him, than invested with authority like Festus, or clothed in splendour like Agrippa? And who would not rather be an honest and cordial believer of the gospel like Paul, than, like them, to be cold contemners or neglecters of the God that made them, and of the Saviour that died, and rose again?

{e} "it seemeth" Pr 18:13

{++} "crimes" "charges"


THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 1

Verse 1. Then Paul stretched forth the hand. See Barnes "Ac 21:40".

This was the usual posture of orators or public speakers. The ancient statues are commonly made in this way, with the right hand extended. The dress of the ancients favoured this. The long and loose robe, or outer garment, was fastened usually with a hook or clasp on the right shoulder, and thus left the arm at full liberty.

And answered for himself. It cannot be supposed that Paul expected that his defence would be attended with a release from confinement; for he had himself appealed to the Roman emperor, Ac 25:11. This design in speaking before Agrippa was, doubtless,

(1.) to vindicate his character, and obtain Agrippa':s attestation to his innocence, that thus he might allay the anger of: the Jews;

(2.) to obtain a correct representation of the case to the emperor, as Festus had desired this, in order that Agrippa might enable him to make a fair statement of the case, (Ac 25:26,27;) and,

(3.) to defend his own conversion, and the truth of Christianity, and to preach the gospel in the hearing of Agrippa and the attendants, with a hope that their minds might be improved by the truth, and that they might be converted to God.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 2

Verse 2. I think myself happy. I esteem it a favour and a privilege to be permitted to make my defence before one acquainted with Jewish customs and opinions. His defence, on former occasions, had been before Roman magistrates, who had little acquaintance with the opinions and customs of the Jews, who were not disposed to listen to the discussion of the points of difference between him and them, and who looked upon all their controversies with contempt. See Ac 24, Ac 25. They were, therefore, little qualified to decide a question which was closely connected with the Jewish customs and doctrines; and Paul now rejoiced to know that he was before one who, from his acquaintance with the Jewish customs and belief, would be able to appreciate his arguments and motives. Paul was not now on his trial; but he was to defend himself, or state his cause, so that Agrippa might be able to aid Festus in transmitting a true account of the case to the Roman emperor. It was his interest and duty, therefore, to defend himself as well as possible; and to put him in possession of all the facts in the case. His defence is, consequently, made up chiefly of a most eloquent statement of the facts just as they had occurred.

I shall answer. I shall be permitted to make a statement, or to defend myself.

Touching, etc. Respecting.

Whereof I am accused of the Jews. By the Jews. The matters of the accusation were—his being a mover of sedition, a ringleader of the Christians, and a profaner of the temple, Ac 24:5,6

{&} "answer for myself" "make my defence"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 3

Verse 3. To be expert. To be skilled, or well acquainted.

In all customs. Rites, institutions, laws, etc. Everything pertaining to the Mosaic ritual, etc.

And questions. Subjects of debate, and of various opinions. The inquiries which had existed between the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, etc. Paul could say this of Agrippa without falsehood or flattery. Agrippa was a Jew, and had passed much of his time in the kingdom over which he presided; and though he had passed the early part of his life chiefly at Rome, yet it was natural that he should make himself acquainted with the religion of his fathers. Paul did not know how to flatter men; but he was not unwilling to state the simple truth, and to commend men as far as truth would permit.

Wherefore. On this account; because you are acquainted with those customs. The Romans, who regarded those customs as superstitious, and those questions as matters to be treated with contempt, could not listen to their discussion with patience. Agrippa, who knew their real importance, would be disposed to lend to all inquiries respecting them a patient attention.

{a} "expert in all customs" De 17:18

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 4

Verse 4. My manner of life. My opinions, principles, and conduct.

From my youth. Paul was born in Tarsus; but at an early period he had been sent to Jerusalem for the purpose of education in the school of Gamaliel, Ac 22:3.

Which was at the first. Which was from the beginning; the early part of which, the time when the opinions and habits are formed.

Know all the Jews. It is not at all improbable that Paul was distinguished in the school of Gamaliel for zeal in the Jewish religion. The fact that he was early entrusted with a commission against the Christians, (Ac 9,) shows that he was known. Comp. Php 3:4-6. He might appeal to them, therefore, in regard to the early part of his life; and, doubtless, to the very men who had been his violent accusers.

{c} "manner of life" 2 Ti 3:10

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 5

Verse 5. Which knew me. Who were well acquainted with me.

From the beginning. anwyen. Formerly, or from the very commencement of my career. Who were perfectly apprized of my whole course.

If they would testify. If they would bear witness to what they knew.

That after the most straitest. The most rigid, the most strict; not only in regard to the written law of God, but the traditions of the elders. Paul himself elsewhere testifies, Php 3:4-6, that he had enjoyed all the advantages of birth and training in the Jewish religion, and that he had early distinguished himself by his observance of its rites and customs.

Sect. Division, or party.

I lived a Pharisee. I lived in accordance with the rules and doctrines of the Pharisees. See Barnes "Mt 3:7".

The reasons why Paul here refers to his early life are:

(1.) As he had lived during the early period of his life without crime; as his principles had been settled by the instruction of the most able of their teachers, it was to be presumed that his subsequent life had been of a similar character.

(2.) As he, at that period of his life, evinced the utmost zeal for the laws and customs of his country, it was to be presumed that he would not be found opposing or reviling them at any subsequent period. From the strictness and conscientiousness of his past life, he supposed that Agrippa might argue favourably respecting his subsequent conduct. A virtuous and religious course in early life is usually a sure pledge of virtue and integrity in subsequent years.

{*} "straitest" "According to the strictest"

{d} "Pharisee" Ac 22:3; Php 3:5

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 6

Verse 6. And now I stand. I stand before the tribunal. I am arraigned.

And am judged. Am tried with reference to being judged. I am undergoing a trial on the point in which all my nation are agreed.

For the hope. On account of the hope; or because, in common with my countrymen, I had entertained this hope, and now believe in its fulfillment.

Of the promise, etc. See the references in the margin. It is not quite certain whether Paul refers here to the promise of the Messiah, or to the hope of the resurrection of the dead. When he stood before the Jewish sanhedrim, Ac 23:6, he said that he was called in question on account of holding the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. But it may be observed, that in Paul's view, the two things were closely united. He hoped that the Messiah would come, and he hoped therefore for the resurrection of the dead. He believed that he had come, and had risen; and therefore he believed that the dead would rise. He argued the one from the other. And as he believed that Jesus was the Messiah, and that he had risen from the dead, and had thus furnished a demonstration that the dead would rise, it was evident that the subject of controversy between him and the Jews involved everything that was vital to their opinions and their hopes. See Ac 24:8. <\/p>

Made of God. Made by God. See the marginal references. The promises had been made to the fathers of a Messiah to come, and that embraced the promise of a future state, or of the resurrection of the dead. It will help us to understand the stress which Paul and the other apostles laid on the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, to remember that it involved the whole doctrine of the separate existence of the soul, and of a future state. The Sadducees denied all this; and when the Pharisees, the Saviour, and the apostles opposed them, they did it by showing that there would be a future state of rewards and punishments. See the argument of the Saviour with the Sadducees explained: See Barnes "Lu 20:27-38".

Unto our fathers. Our ancestors, the patriarchs, etc.

{e} "I stand" Ac 23:6

{f} "promise made of God" Ge 3:15; 22:18; 49:10; De 18:15; 2 Sa 7:12 Isa 4:2; 7:14; 9:6,7; Jer 23:5; 33:14-16; Eze 34:23; Da 9:24; Mic 7:20 Zec 13:1,7; Mal 3:1; Ac 13:32; Ga 4:4

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 7

Verse 7. Unto which promise. To the fulfillment of which promise, they hope to come; i.e., they hope and believe that the promise will be fulfilled, and that they will partake of its benefits.

Our twelve tribes. This was the name by which the Jews were designated. The ancient Jewish nation had hoped to come to that promise; it had been the hope and expectation of the nation. Long before the coming of the Messiah, ten of the twelve tribes had been carried captive to Assyria, and had not returned, leaving but the two tribes of Benjamin and Judah. But the name, "the twelve tribes," to designate the Jewish people, would be still retained. Comp. Jas 1:1. Paul here says that the hope had been that of the Jewish nation. Except the comparatively small portion of the Sadducees, the great mass of the nation had held to the doctrine of a future state. This Agrippa would well know.

Instantly. Constantly; with intensity; with an effort—en ekteneia— with zeal. This was true; for, amidst all the sins of the nation, they observed with punctuality and zeal the outward forms of the worship of God.

Serving God. In the ordinances and observances of the temple. As a nation, they did not serve him in their hearts; but they kept up the outward form of religious worship.

Day and night. With unwearied zeal; with constancy and ardour, Lu 2:37. The ordinary Jewish services and sacrifices were in the morning and evening, and might be said to be performed day and night. Some of their services, as the paschal supper, were prolonged usually till late at night. The main idea is, that they kept up the worship of God with constant and untiring zeal and devotion.

For which hope's sake. On account of my cherishing this hope in common with the great mass of my countrymen. See Ac 23:6. If Paul could convince Agrippa that the main point of his offence was that which had been the common belief of his countrymen, it would show to his satisfaction that he was innocent. And on this ground Paul put his defence: that he held only that which the mass of the nation had believed, and that he maintained this in the only consistent and defensible manner—that God had, in fact, raised up the Messiah, and had thus given assurance that the dead should rise.

{g} "serving God" Lu 2:37; 1 Th 3:10

{1} "day and night" "night and day"

{+} "hope to come" "to attain in its fulfillment"

{++} "hope's sake" "concerning which hope"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 8

Verse 8. Why should it be thought, etc. The force of this question will be better seen by an interrogation point after why, ti. "What! Is it to be thought a thing incredible?" etc. It intimates surprise that it should be thought incredible; or implies that no reason could be given why such a doctrine should be unworthy of belief.

A thing incredible. A doctrine which cannot be credited or believed. Why should it be regarded as absurd?

With you. This is in the plural number; and it is evident that Paul here addressed not Agrippa alone, but those who were with him. There is no evidence that Agrippa doubted that the dead could be raised; but Festus, and those who were with him, probably did; and Paul, in the ardour of his speech, turned and addressed the entire assembly. It is very evident that we have only an outline of this argument, and there is every reason to suppose that Paul would dwell on each part of the subject at greater length than is here recorded.

That God should raise the dead. Why should it be regarded as absurd that God—who has all power, who was the Creator of all, who was the Author of the human frame—should again restore man to life, and continue his future existence. The resurrection is no more incredible than the original creation of the human body, and it is attended with no greater difficulties. And as the perfections of God will be illustrated by his raising up the dead; as the future state is necessary to the purposes of justice in vindicating the just, and punishing the unjust; and as God is a righteous moral Governor, it should not be regarded as an absurdity that he will raise up those who have died, and bring them to judgment.

{h} "Why" 1 Co 15:12,20

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 9

Verse 9. I verily thought. I indeed men supposed. Paul here commences the account of his conversion, and states the evidence on which he judged that he was called of God to do what he had done. He begins by saying that it was not because he was originally disposed to be a Christian, but that he was violently and conscientiously opposed to Jesus of Nazareth, and had been converted when in the full career of opposition to him and his cause.

With myself. I thought to myself; or, I myself thought. He had before stated the hopes and expectations of his countrymen, Ac 26:6-8. He now speaks of his own views and purposes. "For myself, I thought," etc.

That I ought to do. That I was bound, or that it was a duty incumbent on me. dein. "I thought that I owed it to my country, to my religion, and to my God, to oppose in every manner the claims of Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah." We here see that Paul was conscientious, and that a man may be conscientious even when engaged in enormous wickedness. It is no evidence that a man is right because he is conscientious. No small part of the crimes against human laws, and almost all the cruel persecutions against Christians, have been carried on under the plea of conscience. Paul here refers to his conscientiousness in persecution, to show that it was no slight matter which could have changed his course. As he was governed in persecution by conscience, it could have been only by a force of demonstration, and by the urgency of conscience equally clear and strong, that could ever have induced him to abandon this course, and become a friend of that Saviour whom he had thus persecuted.

Many things.

Contrary to the name, etc. In opposition to Jesus himself, or to his claims to be the Messiah. The name is often used to denote the person himself, Ac 3:6.

{a} "I verily" 1 Ti 1:13

{*} "verily" "Indeed"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 10

Verse 10. Which thing I also did, etc. Ac 8:3.

And many of the saints, etc. Many Christians, Ac 8:3.

And when they were put to death. In the history of those transactions there is no account of any Christian being put to death, except Stephen, Ac 7. But there is no improbability in supposing that the same thing which had happened to Stephen, had occurred in other cases. Stephen was the first martyr; and as he was a prominent man, his case is particularly recorded.

I gave my voice. Paul was not a member of the sanhedrim, and this does not mean that he voted, but simply that he joined in the persecution; he approved it; he assented to the putting of the saints to death. Comp. Ac 22:20. The Syriac renders it, "I joined with those who condemned them." It is evident also that Paul instigated them in this persecution, and urged them on to deeds of blood and cruelty.

{b} "did in Jerusalem" Ac 8:3; Ga 1:13

{c} "authority" Ac 9:14

{++} "my voice" "vote"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 11

Verse 11. And I punished them oft, etc. See Ac 22:19.

And compelled them to blaspheme. To blaspheme the name of Jesus, by denying that he was the Messiah, and by admitting that he was an impostor. This was the object which they had in view in the persecution. It was not to make them blaspheme or reproach God, but to deny that Jesus was the Messiah, and to reproach him as a deceiver and an impostor. It is not necessarily implied in the expression, "and compelled them to blaspheme," that he succeeded in doing it; but that he violently endeavoured to make them apostatize from the Christian religion, and deny the Lord Jesus. It is certainly not impossible that a few might thus have been induced by the authority of the sanhedrim, and by the threats of Paul to do it; but it is certain that the great mass of Christians adhered firmly to their belief that Jesus was the Messiah.

And being exceedingly mad. Nothing could more forcibly express his rage and violence against the Christians. He raged like a madman; he was so indignant that he laid aside all appearance of reason; and with the fury and violence of a maniac, he endeavoured to exterminate them from the earth. None but a madman will persecute men on account of their religious opinions; and all persecutions have been conducted like this, with the violence, and fury, and ungovernable temper of maniacs.

Unto strange cities. Unto foreign cities; cities out of Judea. The principal instance Of this was his going to Damascus; but there is no evidence that he did not intend also to visit other cities out of Judea, and bring the Christians there, if he found any, to Jerusalem.

{d} "oft in every" Ac 22:19

{++} "strange" "foreign"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 12

Verse 12. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes "Ac 9:5"

{e} "went to Damascus" Ac 9:3

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 13

Verse 13. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes "Ac 9:5"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 14

Verse 14. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes "Ac 9:5"

{&} "pricks" "goads"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 15

Verse 15. No Barnes text on this verse.

See Barnes "Ac 9:5"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 16

Verse 16. But rise, etc. The particulars mentioned in this verse and the two following are not recorded in the account of Paul's conversion in Ac 9. But it is not improbable that many circumstances may have occurred which are not recorded. Paul dwells on them here at length, in order particularly to show his authority for doing what he had done in preaching to the Gentiles.

To make thee a minister. A minister of the gospel; a preacher of the truth.

And a witness. See Barnes "Ac 22:15".

Which thou hast seen. On the road to Damascus; that is, of the Lord Jesus, and of the fact that he was risen from the dead.

And of those things, etc. Of those further manifestations of my person, protection, and will, which I will yet make to you. It is evident from this, that the Lord Jesus promised to manifest himself to Paul in his ministry, and to make to him still further displays of his will and glory. Comp. Ac 22:17,18. This was done by his rescuing him from destruction and danger; by the intimation of his will; and by the growing and expanding view which Paul was permitted to take of the character and perfections of the Lord Jesus. In this we see that it is the duty of ministers to bear witness not only to the truth of religion in general, or of that which they can demonstrate by argument; but more especially of that which they experience in their own hearts, and which they understand by having themselves been the subjects of it. No man is qualified to enter the ministry who has not a personal and practical and saving view of the glory and perfections of the Lord Jesus, and who does not go to his work as a witness of those things which he has felt. And no man enters the ministry with these feelings, who has not, as Paul had, a promise that he shall see still brighter displays of the perfections of the Saviour, and be permitted to advance in the knowledge of him and of his work. The highest personal consolation in this work is the promise of their being admitted to ever-growing and expanding views of the glory of the Lord Jesus, and of experiencing his presence, guidance, and protection.

{|} "make thee" "Appoint"

{f} "minister" Eph 3:7; Col 1:23,25

{g} "witness" Ac 22:15

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 17

Verse 17. Delivering thee from the people. From the Jewish people. This implied that he would be persecuted by them, and that the Lord Jesus would interpose to rescue him.

And from the Gentiles. This also implied that he would be persecuted and opposed by them—-a prospect which was verified by the whole course of his ministry. Yet in all he experienced, according to the promise, the support and the protection of the Lord Jesus. This was expressed in a summary manner in Lu 9:16.

Unto whom now I send thee. Ac 22:21. As the opposition of the Jews arose mainly from the fact that he had gone among the Gentiles, it was important to bring this part of his commission into full view before Agrippa, and to show that the same Saviour who had miraculously converted him, had commanded him to go and preach to them.

{a} "unto whom" Ac 22:21; Ro 11:13

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 18

Verse 18. To open their eyes. To enlighten or instruct them. Ignorance is represented by the eyes being closed, and the instruction of the gospel by the opening of the eyes. See Eph 1:18.

And to turn them from darkness to light. From the darkness of heathenism and sin, to the light and purity of the gospel. Darkness in an emblem of ignorance and of sin; and the heathen nations are often represented as sitting in darkness. See Barnes "Mt 4:16; See Barnes "Joh 1:4" See Barnes "Joh 1:6".

And from the power of Satan. From the dominion of Satan. Comp. Col 1:13; 1 Pe 2:9; See Barnes "Joh 12:31" See Barnes "Joh 16:11".

Satan is thus represented as the prince of this world; the ruler of the darkness of this world; the prince of the power of the air, etc. The heathen world, lying in sin and superstition, is represented as under his control; and this passage teaches, doubtless, that the great mass of the people of this world are the subjects of the kingdom of Satan, and are led captive by him at his will.

Unto God. To the obedience of the one living and true God.

That they may receive forgiveness of sins. Through the merits of that Saviour who died; that thus the partition wall between the Jews and the Gentiles might be broken down, and all might be admitted to the same precious privileges of the favour and mercy of God. See Barnes "Ac 2:38".

And inheritance. An heirship, or lot, (klhron;) that they might be entitled to the privileges and favours of the children of God. See Barnes "Ac 20:32".

Which are sanctified. Among the saints; the children of God. See Barnes "Ac 20:32".

{b} "open their eyes" Isa 35:5; 42:7; Eph 1:18

{c} "turn them" Lu 1:79; Joh 8:12; 2 Co 4:6; 1 Pe 2:9

{d} "power of Satan" Col 1:13

{e} "forgiveness of sins" Lu 1:77; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14

{f} "inheritance" Eph 1:11; Col 1:12; 1 Pe 1:4

{g} "sanctified" Joh 17:17; Ac 20:32; 1 Co 1:30; Re 21:27

{h} "faith" Eph 2:8; Heb 11:6

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 19

Verse 19. Whereupon. Whence, oyen. Since the proof of his being the Messiah, and of his resurrection, and of his calling me to this work, was so clear and plain, I deemed it my duty to engage without delay in the work.

I was not disobedient. I was not incredulous or unbelieving; I yielded myself to the command, and at once obeyed. See Ac 9:6; Comp. Gal 1:16.

To the heavenly vision. To the celestial appearance; or to the vision which appeared to me manifestly from heaven. I did not doubt that this splendid appearance Ac 26:13 was from heaven; and I did not refuse to obey the command of Him who thus appeared to me. He knew it was the command of God his Saviour; and he gave evidence of repentance by yielding obedience to it at once.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 20

Verse 20. See Ac 9:20-23. The 20th verse contains a summary of his labours in obedience to the command of the Lord Jesus. His argument is, that the Lord Jesus had from heaven commanded him to do this, and that he had done no more than to obey his injunction.

{*} "shewed" "declared"

{i} "first" Ac 9:19

{k} "works" Mt 3:8

{+} "meet for" "worthy of"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 21

Verse 21. Caught me in the temple. Ac 21:30.

And went about, etc. Endeavoured to put me to death.

{l} "Jews" Ac 21:30

{++} "caught" "seized"

{&} "about to kill" "attempted"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 22

Verse 22. Having therefore obtained help of God. Paul had seen and felt his danger. He had known the determined malice of the Jews, and their efforts to take his life. He had been rescued by Lysias, and had made every effort to avoid the danger, and to save his life; and at the end of all, he traced his safety entirely to the help of God. It was not by any power of his own that he had been preserved; but it was because God had interposed and rescued him. Those who have been delivered from danger, if they have just views, will delight to trace it all to God. They will regard his hand; and will feel that whatever wisdom they may have had, or whatever may have been the kindness of their friends to aid them, yet that all this also is to be traced to the superintending providence of God.

Witnessing. Bearing testimony to what he had seen, according to the command of Christ, Ac 26:16.

To small. To those in humble life; to the poor, the ignorant, and the obscure. Like his Master, he did not despise them, but regarded it as his duty and privilege to preach the gospel to the poor.

And great. The rich and noble; to kings, and princes, and governors. He had thus stood on Mars' Hill at Athens; he had borne testimony before the wise men of Greece; he had declared the same gospel before Felix, Festus, and now before Agrippa. He offered salvation to all. He passed by none because they were poor; and he was not deterred by the fear of the rich and the great from making known their sins, and calling them to repentance. What an admirable illustration of the proper duties of a minister of the gospel!

Saying none other things, etc. Delivering no new doctrine; but maintaining only that the prophecies had been fulfilled. As he had done this only, there was no reason for the opposition and persecution of the Jews.

Should come. Should come to pass; or, should take place. Paul here evidently means to say, that the doctrine of the atonement, and of the resurrection of Christ, is taught in the Old Testament.

{|} "witnessing" "testifying"

{m} "the prophets" Lu 24:27,46

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 23

Verse 23. That Christ. That the Messiah expected by the Jews should be a suffering Messiah.

Should suffer. Should lead a painful life, and be put to death. See Barnes "Ac 17:3".

Compare Da 9:27; Isa 53.

And that he should be the first, etc. This declaration contains two points: (1.) That it was taught in the prophets that the Messiah should rise from the dead. On this, see the proof alleged in Ac 2:24-32; Ac 13:32-37.

(2.) That he should be the first that should rise. This cannot mean that the Messiah should be the first dead person who should be restored to life, for Elijah had raised the son of the Shunammite, and Jesus himself had raised Lazarus and the widow's son at Nain. It does not mean that he should be the first in the order of time that should rise, but first in eminence, the most distinguished, the chief, the head of those who should rise from the dead. prwtov ex anastasewv nekrwn. In accordance with this he is called Col 1:18 "the beginning, the first-born from the dead;" having, among all the dead who should be raised up, the rights and pre-eminence of the primogeniture, or which pertained to the first-born. In 1 Co 15:20, he is called "the first-fruits of them that slept." This declaration is, therefore, made of him by way of eminence:

(1.) As being chief, a prince among those raised from the dead;

(2.) as being raised by his own power, Joh 10:18

(3.) as, by his rising, securing a dominion over death and the grave, (1 Co 15:25,26;) and,

(4.) as bringing, by his rising, life and immortality to light. He rose to return to death no more. And he thus secured an ascendancy over death and the grave, and was thus, by way of eminence, first among those raised from the dead.

And should shew light unto the people. To the Jews. Should be their instructor and prophet. This Moses had predicted, De 18:15.

And to the Gentiles. This had often been foretold by the prophets, and particularly by Isaiah, Isa 9:1,2. Compare Mt 4:14-16 Isa 11:10; 42:1,4; 44:3; 60:3,5,11; 61:6; 62:2; 66:12.

{n} "the first" 1 Co 15:23

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 24

Verse 24. Festus said with a loud voice. Amazed at the zeal and ardour of Paul. Paul doubtless evinced deep interest in the subject, and great earnestness in the delivery of his defence.

Thou art beside thyself. Thou art deranged; thou art insane. The reasons why Festus thought Paul mad were, probably,

(1.) his great earnestness and excitement on the subject.

(2.) His laying such stress on the gospel of the despised Jesus of Nazareth, as if it were a matter of infinite moment. Festus despised it; and he regarded it as proof of derangement that so much importance was attached to it.

(3.) Festus regarded, probably, the whole story of the vision that Paul said had appeared to him, as the effect of an inflamed and excited imagination; and as the proof of delirium. This is not an uncommon charge against those who are Christians, and especially when they evince any unusual zeal. Sinners regard them as under the influence of delirium and fanaticism; as terrified by imaginary and superstitious fears; or as misguided by fanatical leaders. Husbands often thus think their wives deranged, and parents their children, and wicked men the ministers of the gospel. The gay think it proof of derangement that others are serious, and anxious, and prayerful; the rich, that others are willing to part with their property to do good; the ambitious and worldly, that others are willing to leave their country and home, to go among the Gentiles to spend their lives in making known the unsearchable riches of Christ. The really sober and rational part of the world—they who fear God, and keep his commandments; who believe that eternity is before them, and who strive to live for it—are thus charged with insanity by those who are really deluded, and who are thus living lives of madness and folly. The tenants of a madhouse often think all others deranged but themselves; but there is no madness so great, no delirium so awful, as to neglect the eternal interest of the soul for the sake of the poor pleasures and honours which this life can give.

Much learning. It is probable that Festus was acquainted with the fact that Paul had been well instructed, and was a learned man. Paul had not, while before him, manifested particularly his learning. But Festus, acquainted in some way with the fact that he was well educated, supposed that his brain had been turned, and that the effect of it was seen by devotion to a fanatical form of religion. The tendency of long-continued and intense application to produce mental derangement, is everywhere known.

Doth make thee mad. Impels, drives, or excites thee peritrepei to madness.

{&} "spake for himself" "Made his defence"

{o} "make thee mad" 2 Ki 9:11

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 25

Verse 25. I am not mad. I am not deranged. There are few more happy turns than that which Paul gives to this accusation of Festus. He might have appealed to the course of his argument; he might have dwelt on the importance of the subject, and continued to reason; but he makes an appeal at once to Agrippa, and brings him in for a witness that he was not deranged. This would be far more likely to make art impression on the mind of Festus, than anything that Paul could say in self-defence. The same reply, "I am not mad," can be made by all Christians to the charge of derangement which the world brings against them. They have come, like the prodigal, Lu 15:17 to their right mind; and by beginning to act as if there were a God and Saviour, as if they were to die, as if there were a boundless eternity before them, they are conducting [themselves] according to the dictates of reason. And as Paul appealed to Agrippa, who was not a Christian, for the reasonableness and soberness of his own views and conduct, so may all Christians appeal even to sinners themselves, as witnesses that they are acting as immortal beings should act. All men know that if there is an eternity, it is right to prepare for it; if there is a God, it is proper to serve him, if a Saviour died for us, we should love him; if a hell, we should avoid it; if a heaven, we should seek it. And even when they charge us with folly and derangement, we may turn at once upon them, and appeal to their own consciences, and ask them if all our anxieties, and prayers, and efforts, and self-denials, are not right? One of the best ways of convicting sinners, is to appeal to them just as Paul did to Agrippa. When so appealed to, they will usually acknowledge the force of the appeal; and will admit that all the solicitude of Christians for their salvation is according to the dictates of reason.

Most noble Festus. This was the usual title of the Roman governor. Comp. Ac 24:3.

Of truth. In accordance with the predictions of Moses and the prophets; and the facts which have occurred in the death and resurrection of the Messiah. In proof of this he appeals to Agrippa, Ac 26:26,27. Truth here stands opposed to delusion, imposture, and fraud.

And soberness. Soberness (swfrosunhv, wisdom) stands opposed here to madness, or derangement, and denotes sanity of mind. The words which I speak are those of a sane man, conscious of what he is saying, and impressed with its truth. They were the words, also, of a man who, under the charge of derangement, evinced the most perfect self-possession and command of his feelings; and who uttered sentiments deep, impressive, and worthy of the attention of mankind.

{*} "soberness" "a sound mind"

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 26

Verse 26. For the king. King Agrippa.

Knoweth. He had been many years in that region, and the fame of Jesus and of Paul's conversion were probably well known to him.

These things. The things pertaining to the early persecutions of Christians; the spread of the gospel; and the remarkable conversion of Paul. Though Agrippa might not have been fully informed respecting these things, yet he had an acquaintance with Moses and the prophets; he knew the Jewish expectation respecting the Messiah; and he could not be ignorant respecting the remarkable public events in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and of his having been put to death by order of Pontius Pilate on the cross.

I speak freely. I speak openly, boldly. I use no disguise; and I speak the more confidently before him, because, from his situation, he must be acquainted with the truth of what I say. Truth is always bold and free; and it is an evidence of honesty when a man is willing to declare everything without reserve before those who are qualified to detect him if he is an impostor. Such evidence of truth and honesty was given by Paul.

For I am persuaded. I am convinced; I doubt not that he is well acquainted with these things.

Are hidden from him. That he is unacquainted with them.

For this thing. The thing to which Paul had mainly referred in this defence, his own conversion to the Christian religion.

Was not done in a corner. Did not occur secretly and obscurely; but was public, and was of such a character as to attract attention. The conversion of a leading persecutor, such as Paul had been, and in the manner in which that conversion had taken place, could not but attract attention and remark. And although the Jews would endeavour as much as possible to conceal it, yet Paul might presume that it could not be entirely unknown to Agrippa.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 27

King Agrippa. This bland personal address is an instance of Paul's happy manner of appeal. He does it to bring in the testimony of Agrippa to meet the charge of Festus that he was deranged.

Believest thou the prophets? The prophecies respecting the character, the sufferings, and the death of the Messiah.

I know that thou believest. Agrippa was a Jew; and, as such, he of course believed the prophets. Perhaps, too, from what Paul knew of his personal character, he might confidently affirm that he professed to be a believer. Instead, therefore, of waiting for his answer, Paul anticipates it, and says that he knows that Agrippa professes to believe all these prophecies respecting the Messiah. His design is evident. It is

(1) to meet the charge of derangement, and to bring in the testimony of Agrippa, who well understood the subject, to the importance and the truth of what he was saying.

(2.) To press on the conscience of his royal hearer the evidence of the Christian religion, and to secure if possible his conversion. "Since thou believest the prophecies, and since I have shown that they are fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, that he corresponds in person, character, and work with the prophets, it follows that his religion is true." Paul lost no opportunity of pressing the truth on every class of men. He had such a conviction of the truth of Christianity, that he was deterred by no rank, station, or office; by no fear of the rich, the great and the learned; but everywhere urged the evidence of that religion as indisputable. In this lay the secret of no small part of his success. A man whoreally believes the truth, will be ready to defend it. A man who truly loves religion, will not be ashamed of it anywhere.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 28

Verse 28. Then Agrippa said unto Paul. He could not deny that he believed the prophets. He could not deny that the argument was a strong one, that they had been fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. He could not deny that the evidence of the miraculous interposition of God in the conversion of Paul was overwhelming. And instead, therefore, of charging him as Festus had done with derangement, he candidly and honestly avows the impression which the proof had made on his mind.

Almost. Except a very little. en oligw. Thou hast nearly convinced me that Christianity is true, and persuaded me to embrace it. The arguments of Paul had been so rational; the appeal which he had made to his belief of the prophets had been so irresistible, that he had been nearly convinced of the truth of Christianity. We are to remember,

(1.) that Agrippa was a Jew, and that he would look on this whole subject in a different manner from the Roman Festus.

(2.) That Agrippa does not appear to have partaken of the violent passions and prejudices of the Jews who had accused Paul.

(3.) His character, as given by Josephus, is that of a mild, candid, and ingenuous man. He had no particular hostility to Christians; he knew that they were not justly charged with sedition and crime; and he saw the conclusion to which a belief of the prophets inevitably tended. Yet, as in thousands of other cases, he was not quite persuaded to be a Christian. What was included in the "almost"—what prevented his being quite persuaded—we know not. It may have been that the evidence was not so clear to his mind as he would profess to desire; or that he was not willing to give up his sins; or that he was too proud to rank himself with the followers of Jesus of Nazareth; or that, like Felix, he was willing to defer it to a more convenient season. There is every reason to believe that he was never quite persuaded to embrace the Lord Jesus; and that he was never nearer the kingdom of heaven than at this moment. It was the crisis, the turning point in Agrippa's life, and in his eternal destiny; and, like thousands of others, he neglected or refused to allow the full conviction of the truth on his mind, and died in his sins.

Thou persuadest me. Thou dost convince me of the truth of the Christian religion, and persuadest me to embrace it.

To be a Christian. On the name Christian, See Barnes "Ac 11:26".

On this deeply interesting case, we may observe,

(1.) that there are many in the same situation as Agrippa— many who are almost, but not altogether, persuaded to be Christians. They are found among

(a) those who have been religiously educated;

(b) those who are convinced by argument of the truth of Christianity;

(c) those whose consciences are awakened, and who feel their guilt, and the necessity of some better portion than this world can furnish.

(2.) Such persons are deterred from being altogether Christians by the following, among other causes:

(a) By the love of sin—the love of sin in general, or some particular sin which they are not willing to abandon.

(b) The fear of shame, persecution, or contempt, if they become Christians.

(c) By the temptations of the world—its cares, vanities, and allurements—which are often prosecuted most strongly in just this state of mind.

(d) The love of office, the pride of rank and power, as in the case of Agrippa.

(e) A disposition, like Felix, to delay to a more favourable time the work of religion, until life has wasted away, and death approaches, and it is too late; and the unhappy man dies ALMOST a Christian.

(3.) This state of mind is one of peculiar interest, and peculiar danger. It is not one of safety; and it is not one that implies any certainty that the "almost Christian" will ever be saved. There is no reason to believe that Agrippa ever became fully persuaded to become a Christian. To be almost persuaded to do a thing which we ought to do, and yet not to do it, is the very position of guilt and danger. And it is no wonder that many are brought to this point—the turning point, the crisis of life —and then lose their anxiety, and die in their sins. May the God of grace keep us from resting in being almost persuaded to be Christians. And may every one who shall read this account of Agrippa be admonished by his convictions, and be alarmed by the fact that he then paused, and that his convictions there ended! And may every one resolve, by the help of God, to forsake everything that prevents his becoming an entire believer, and without delay embrace the Son of God as his Saviour!

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 29

Verse 29. I would to God. I pray to God; I earnestly desire it of God. This shows

(l.) Paul's intense desire that Agrippa, and all who heard him, might be saved.

(2.) His steady and constant belief that none but God could incline them to become altogether Christians. Hence he expressed it as the object which he earnestly sought of God, that they might be true believers. Paul knew well that there was nothing that would overcome the reluctance of the human heart to be an entire Christian, but the grace and mercy of God. He had addressed to them the convincing arguments of religion; and he now breathed forth his earnest prayer to God that these arguments might be effectual. So prays every faithful minister of the cross.

All that hear me. Festus, and the military and civil officers who had been assembled to hear his defence, Ac 25:23.

Were both almost, and altogether, etc. Paul had no higher wish for them than that they might have the faith and consolations which he had himself enjoyed. He had so firm a conviction of the truth of Christianity, and had experienced so much of its consolations and supports amidst all his persecutions and trials, that his highest desire for them was, that they might experience the same inexpressibly pure and holy consolations. He well knew that there was neither happiness nor safety in being almost a Christian; and he desired, therefore, that they would give themselves, as he had done, entirely and altogether to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Except these bonds. These chains. This is an exceedingly happy and touching appeal. Probably Paul, when he said this, lifted up his arm with the chain attached to it. His wish was, that they might be partakers of the pure joys which religion had conferred on him; that in all other respects they might partake of the effects of the gospel, except those chains. Those he did not wish them to bear. The persecutions, and unjust trials, and confinements which he had been called to suffer in the cause, he did not desire them to endure. True Christians wish others to partake of the full blessings of religion. The trials which they themselves experience from without, in unjust persecutions, ridicule, and slander, they do not wish them to endure. The trials which they themselves experience from an evil heart, from corrupt passions, and from temptations, they do not wish others to experience. But even with these, religion confers infinitely more pure joy than the world can give; and even though others should be called to experience severe trials for their religion, still Christians wish that all should partake of the pure consolations which Christianity alone can furnish in this world and the world to come.

{a} "would to God" 1 Co 7:7

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 30

Verse 30. No notes from Barnes on this verse.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 31

Verse 31. This man doeth nothing worthy of death. This was the conclusion to which they had come, after hearing all that the Jews had to allege against him. It was the result of the whole investigation; and we have, therefore, the concurring testimony of Claudius Lysias, Ac 23:29, of Felix, Ac 24 of Festus, Ac 25:26,27, and of Agrippa, to his innocence. More honourable and satisfactory testimony of his innocence Paul could not have desired. It was a full acquittal from all the charges against him; and though he was to be sent to Rome, yet he went there with every favourable circumstance of being acquitted there also.

THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 26 - Verse 32

Verse 32. Then said Agrippa unto Festus, etc. This is a full declaration of the conviction of Agrippa, that Paul was innocent. It is an instance also where boldness and fidelity will be attended with happy results. Paul had concealed nothing of the truth. He had made a bold and faithful appeal Ac 26:27 to Agrippa himself, for the truth of what he was saying. By this appeal, Agrippa had not been offended. It had only served to impress him more with the innocence of Paul. It is an instance which shows us that religion may be commended to the consciences and reason of princes, and kings, and judges, so that they will see its truth. It is an instance which shows us that the most bold and faithful appeals may be made by the ministers of religion to their hearers, for the truth of what they are saying. And it is a full proof that the most faithful appeals, if respectful, may be made without offending men, and with the certainty that they will feel and admit their force. All preachers should be as faithful as Paul; and whatever may be the rank and character of their auditors, they should never doubt that they have truth and God on their side, and that their message, when most bold and faithful, will commend itself to the consciences of men.

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