Acts 26

When God’s servant is given a chance to speak for himself, it is well if he may speak for Christ instead, nor need he be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ in any company. Though they answer with scorn and contempt, it is certain that God will in some way use the testimony for His glory.

1 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:

2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:

3 Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.

4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;

5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:

7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.

8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?

9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.

11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.

12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,

13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.

14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.

16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;

17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,

18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:

20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.

22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:

23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.

25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.

26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.

27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.

28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.

29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.

30 And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:

31 And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.

32 Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.

Acts 26:1-11 – ​Paul Permitted to Speak for Himself

   Though Paul’s defense before Agrippa is in substance the same as that from the castle stairs at Jerusalem, it differs in the extended description of the remarkable change which had passed over his life in consequence of the direct interposition of Jesus Christ. And in the opening paragraph he lays great stress on his determined opposition to the doctrine of Christ, as a proof that his conversion was trustworthy evidence.
   Stretching out his hand, the Apostle began by congratulating himself on the opportunity of laying his case before the great-grandson of Herod the Great, whose elaborate training in all matters of the Jewish religion made him unusually competent to deal with the matters in debate. He asked why it should be so hard to credit the attested fact of the Lord’s resurrection. He granted that he himself had resisted the evidence when he had first heard it. Indeed, he had everything to lose if he accepted it. His fiery persecution of the Christians proved at least that he was an impartial witness. So he pleaded before that group of high and mighty potentates. What a contrast between their splendid robes and sparkling jewels, and the poor, worn, shackled prisoner! But they are remembered only because of this chance connection with Paul, while Paul has led the mightiest minds of subsequent ages. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Acts 26:12-21 – ​Obedient to His Heavenly Vision

   Nowhere else is there such deliverance from the glare and cross-lights of earth as is afforded by a vision of the face of Jesus, brighter than the sun at noon. To everyone there comes the opportunity of catching a vision of that face, sometimes reflected in a human one, as Paul first saw it in the countenance of Stephen. It confronts us when we go on forbidden paths, and summons us to arise and follow the life which is life indeed.
   Acts 26:16: What we have seen is only a part of the great unveiling. He will show us other and greater things than these. Acts 26:17: We shall be delivered, even as we are sent. The Master holds Himself responsible for our safety while we are engaged in His work. Acts 26:18: We have here an anticipation of Colossians 1:19.
   We must not disobey the heavenly visions that visit us. When Paul in his dream beheld the beckoning Macedonian, he made a straight course for Europe. Sometimes, in obeying, the first appearances are discouraging, as when the missionaries, on landing at Philippi, met only a few women beside the little river; but the final results will justify the first stepping-out of faith. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Acts 26:19—I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision.

​   To us, also, the heavenly visions come. On our summer holidays, rising between us and some soaring Alp, or meeting us in our walk beside the gently-breaking sea; on beds of pain and in chambers of watching; visions of the risen Lord; visions of his infinite grief and pain which we have caused; visions of the possibilities of our life as a minister and witness of the things which we have seen; visions of results far down the vista wherein dark souls should become light, slaves emancipated, the defiled saintly. Ah, visions of God! ye leave an indelible impression that moulds and ennobles all after-years! Pitiable the soul to which visions of a holier, sweeter life never come, or, if they come, are never seen.
   The one important matter is our treatment of them. We may indolently refuse to follow the beckoning hand and obey the voice that calls. We may return to our evil courses and follow the devices and desires of our own hearts. We may cling to the prison cell, instead of following the angel that strikes us on our side, and bids us go forth into freedom. And if so, like Balsam, we shall become spiritually blind, and fail to see visions that the dumb creatures recognize, and that would fain arrest us in our perilous career.
   On the other hand, if we will obey the vision, we shall not only retain the impression, and feel its prolonged and enthralling power, but shall receive still further manifestations of the will of God. “A witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee” (Acts 26:16). To those who love and obey Him, He is ever drawing near with fresh and deeper thoughts of the Father. —Our Daily Homily

Acts 26:22-32 – ​Convincing His Inquisitors

   Paul was in his element. He was delivering to kings and governors the testimony which it was the constant object of his life to give, when suddenly he was stopped by Festus, who, on hearing of the resurrection of the dead, accused Paul of madness. Paul addressed him with perfect respect, and then turned to King Agrippa for justification. But Agrippa did not choose to be entrapped in the discussion of these deep religious truths. With the contempt of a man of the world he smiled at the enthusiastic earnestness of this man who fancied that a wearer of purple would embrace faith in a crucified Messiah. It was as if he said, “In a little while you’ll be making me–a Christian!”
   Paul immediately caught up his words. With evident sincerity he broke in with, I would to God that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am (here he must have raised his fettered hands) except these bonds. He was no common criminal, as his judges were fain to admit, and the proceedings of that day probably, under God, saved Paul’s life, for Nero could hardly condemn to death a man who had been pronounced innocent by such hearers as these. —Through the Bible Day by Day