King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Acts 26

Paul’s defence before Agrippa. (1-11) His conversion and preaching to the Gentiles. (12-23) Festus and Agrippa convinced of Paul’s innocence. (24-32)

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Paul’s defence before Agrippa

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.

His conversion and preaching to the Gentiles

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.

Festus and Agrippa convinced of Paul’s innocence

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.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. S. Paul having obtained liberty of speaking, stretches out his right hand, disengaged from his cloak. We must recollect that S. Paul still bore his chains about him, those chains in which he gloried; (v. 26.) it is therefore necessary to suppose that his left hand only was tied; or, what is less likely, that these chains were not so tight nor heavy as to hinder the easy motion of the right. It is observed by Apuleius, that orators in this action closed the two shorter fingers, and had the others extended. Calmet.

Ver. 5. According to the most sure sect.[1] In the Greek, the most exact or approved: for such was esteemed that of the Pharisees. Wi.

Ver. 6. For the hope of the promise. That is, of the promised Messias, and of salvation by him. Wi.

Ver. 8. He speaks now to the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection. Can you say it is impossible for Him, whom you all allow to be omnipotent, to raise any of the dead to life? Is it not easier to reanimate a body, whose parts are dissolved by death, than create what had no existence? “And why should He, who daily from the corrupted seed brings forth plants, leaves, wood, not be able to call back into their primitive state the flesh and bones from the dust into which they have been dissolved.” S. Greg. hom. xxvi. in Evang.

Ver. 10. I brought the sentence.[2] That is, from those who in the great council were judges of life and death, to those officers who were to put the sentence in execution. This seems to be the sense of these words, rather than, I voted, or gave my voice in condemning them; for we have no grounds to think S. Paul was one of the council, or of the judges. Wi.

Ver. 14. It is generally supposed that S. Paul addresses king Agrippa in the Greek language, which was the common tongue of a great part of the East. V.

Ver. 16. Wherein I will appear to thee. From whence interpreters take notice, that Christ divers times appeared to S. Paul to reveal things to him. Wi.

Ver. 17. Delivering thee, &c. That is, from many attempts, both of the Jews and Gentiles, against thee. Wi.

Ver. 18. That they may be converted from the darkness of error to the light of the gospel, and from the power of Satan to the liberty of the children of God.

Ver. 23. That Christ should suffer, &c. Lit. if Christ be passible. If, here is expounded not as implying a condition, but as an affirmation; so that the sense is, that Christ, according to the predictions of the prophets, was to suffer, was to be the first that should rise from the dead, &c. Wi. — First, &c. Many had been raised from the dead before Jesus; the child of the widow of Sarepta, Lazarus, and others. How, then, is Jesus first? He is the first who rises not to die again; and as such the Messias is always represented by the prophets. Others were raised from the dead, but returned again to their graves. Jesus dies no more. He is the first too who raises himself. Calmet.

Ver. 24. It is not surprising that Festus should have taken S. Paul for a madman. The resurrection of the dead, remission of sins, receiving baptism, and faith, announcing light to the nations, &c. were subjects completely unintelligible to a Roman. To a Jew the terms were customary and common. The eloquence and manner in which he spoke on these subjects, might shew him to be a man of great learning.

Ver. 28. In a little thou persuadest me to become a Christian. According to the common exposition, Agrippa speaks in a jest, and ironically; and as for the words, they are the same as, thou almost persuadest me, &c. Wi.

Ver. 29. Except these chains. That is, I heartily wish all men in the same condition as myself, not only to be prisoners as I am, but to be Christians, as I am. Wi.

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[1] V. 5. Certissimam, akribestaten, accuratissimam.

[2] V. 10. Ego sententiam detuli, katenegka psephon, calculum, suffragium. It was the custom for judges to give their votes either by taking up a white or a black stone: that it, a white stone, if the persons judged were found not guilty, and a black stone, if guilty: so Ovid,

Mos erat antiquis niveis, atrisque lapillis,

His damnare reos, illis absolvere culpa.

So that psephos was a lapillus, or a little stone made use of in giving sentence, and from thence taken for the sentence itself.