Acts 26:1-8 — Paul Tells of His Former Life
1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.”
So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself:
2 “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews,
3 especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.
4 “My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know.
5 They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers.
7 To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews.
8 Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?
Paul’s address was that of courteous introduction, recognizing Agrippa’s knowledge, and requesting that he should hear him in patience.
What were the probable values of that method of address? First of all I seem to hear in it a genuine sigh of relief that he was to be heard by one who would at least be able technically to follow his argument. His plea for a patient hearing suggested his memory of former interruptions. It is well perhaps to be reminded that Agrippa granted him his patient hearing; but it is well also to notice that the address was never finished, for Festus interrupted him …
As he looked into the face of Agrippa, and knew him a magnificent man in many respects, of physical presence, of mental ability, expert as Paul said, and as Rabbinical writers agree, in all the technicalities of the Hebrew economy, I think he felt within him: “Oh, that this man could only see these things as I have seen them through the light of the resurrection of the Lord.” I think the passion for his saving possessed him as he asked Agrippa to hear him patiently. In that appeal to Agrippa, if that be the deepest sense of it, there is an interesting revelation of Paul’s personal conviction that the logic of “The Way” was irresistible. — Morgan, pages 519-520.
Paul demonstrated to Agrippa that faith in the risen Christ was, in fact, the culmination of the strict Judaism in which he was trained and, rather than being an unbelievable occurrence, it was exactly what the Jews had been promised in their Scriptures. He explained that he had been a strict Jew who believed in the ceremonial and moral aspects of his religion, but also in the spiritual aspects, which included hope in the resurrection of the dead.
stretched out his hand (v.1) — a gesture of earnestness — He was probably chained to a Roman soldier (v.29)
of the Jews (v.2) = should be “of Jews” — referring to their national and religious characteristics
Extra-biblical sources agree that Agrippa was an expert (v.3) in the technicalities of Judaism.
customs and questions (v.3) — habits of practice and theories of doctrine
religion (v.5) — external rites and forms
for this hope’s sake (v.7) — referring to the very hope all 12 tribes were looking for and the one promised throughout the Law and the Prophets
In Acts 25:19, Festus talked of Paul’s belief in resurrection mockingly, and while Paul wasn’t there to hear it, he must have known how he and others felt. And so here (v.8), Paul asked Agrippa, who professed to be a practicing Jew, “Why is this thought to be incredible?”
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