Acts 26

Paul Offers His Defense

1So Agrippa
See the note on King Agrippa in 25:13.
said to Paul, “You have permission
Grk “It is permitted for you.”
to speak for yourself.” Then Paul held out his hand
Or “extended his hand” (a speaker’s gesture).
and began his defense:
Or “and began to speak in his own defense.”

2 “Regarding all the things I have been accused of by the Jews, King Agrippa,
See the note on King Agrippa in 25:13.
I consider myself fortunate that I am about to make my defense before you today,
3because you are especially
BDAG 613 s.v. μάλιστα 1 states, “μ. γνώστην ὄντα σε since you are outstandingly familiar Ac 26:3.”
familiar with all the customs and controversial issues
Grk “several controversial issues.” BDAG 428 s.v. ζήτημα states, “in our lit. only in Ac, w. the mng. it still has in Mod. Gk. (controversial) question, issue, argumentAc 15:2; 26:3. ζ. περί τινος questions about someth.18:15; 25:19.”
of the Jews. Therefore I ask
BDAG 218 s.v. δέομαι states, “In our lit. only w. the mng. to ask for something pleadingly, ask, request,” and then in section a.α states, “w. inf. foll.…Ac 26:3.”
you to listen to me patiently.
4Now all the Jews know the way I lived
Grk “my manner of life.”
from my youth, spending my life from the beginning among my own people
Or “nation.”
and in Jerusalem.
5They know,
These words are repeated from v. 4 (“all the Jews know”). Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, it was necessary to begin a new sentence at the beginning of v. 5 in the translation, but for this to make sense, the main verb ἵσασι ({isasi) has to be repeated to connect with the ὅτι (hoti) clause (indirect discourse) in v. 5.
because they have known
Grk “having known me from time past.” The participle προγινώσκοντες (proginōskontes) has been translated as a causal adverbial participle.
me from time past,
BDAG 866 s.v. προγινώσκω 2 has “Know from time past…προγινώσκοντές με ἄνωθεν Ac 26:5.” L&N 28.6 states, “‘they have already known me beforehand, if they are willing to testify’ Ac 26:5.”
if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party
That is, strictest religious party. “Party” alone is used in the translation because “the strictest religious party of our religion” would be redundant.
of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.
See the note on Pharisee in 5:34.
6And now I stand here on trial
BDAG 568 s.v. κρίνω 5.a.α has “κρίνεσθαι ἐπί τινι be on trial because of a thing Ac 26:6.”
because of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors,
Or “forefathers”; Grk “fathers.”
7a promise
Grk “to which [promise] our twelve tribes…” The antecedent of the relative pronoun (the promise in v. 6) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
that our twelve tribes hope to attain as they earnestly serve God
Or “earnestly worship.” The object of this service, God, is omitted but implied: BDAG 587 s.v. λατρεύω states, “Without the dat. of the one to whom service is given: ἐν ἐκτενείᾳ νύκτα κ. ἡμέραν λ. serve (God) earnestly night and day Ac 26:7.” Although clear from the context in Greek, “God” must be supplied as the recipient of the service for the modern English reader.
night and day. Concerning this hope the Jews are accusing me,
Grk “I am being accused by the Jews.” The passive construction was simplified by converting it to an active one in the translation.
Your Majesty!
Grk “O King!”
8Why do you people
The word “people” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied to indicate that the second person pronoun (“you”) is plural (others in addition to King Agrippa are being addressed).
BDAG 568 s.v. κρίνω 3 states, “τί ἄπιστον κρίνεται παρ᾿ ὑμῖν; why do you think it is incredible? Ac 26:8.” The passive construction (“why is it thought unbelievable…”) has been converted to an active one to simplify the translation.
it is unbelievable
Or “incredible.” BDAG 103 s.v. ἄπιστος 1 states, “unbelievable, incredible…τί ἄπιστον κρίνεται παρ᾿ ὑμῖν…; why does it seem incredible to you? Ac 26:8.”
Grk “if.” The first-class conditional construction, which assumes reality for the sake of argument, has been translated as indirect discourse.
God raises the dead?
9Of course,
BDAG 737 s.v. οὖν 3 states, “It has been proposed that some traces of older Gk. usage in which οὖν is emphatic, = certainly, really, to be sure etc. (s. L-S-J-M s.v. 1) remain in the pap…and in the NT…indeed, of course Ac 26:9.”
I myself was convinced
Grk “I thought to myself.” BDAG 255 s.v. δοκέω 2.a has “ἔδοξα ἐμαυτῷ δεῖν πρᾶξαι = Lat. mihi videbar I was convinced that it was necessary to do Ac 26:9.”
that it was necessary to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus the Nazarene.
10And that is what I did in Jerusalem: Not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons by the authority I received
Grk “by receiving authority.” The participle λαβών (labōn) has been taken instrumentally.
from the chief priests, but I also cast my vote
Grk “cast down a pebble against them.” L&N 30.103 states, “(an idiom, Grk ‘to bring a pebble against someone,’ a reference to a white or black pebble used in voting for or against someone) to make known one’s choice against someone - ‘to vote against.’ …‘when they were sentenced to death, I also voted against them’ Ac 26:10.”
against them when they were sentenced to death.
Grk “when they were being executed”; but the context supports the sentencing rather than the execution itself (cf. L&N 30.103).
11I punished
Grk “and punishing…I tried.” The participle τιμωρῶν (timōrōn) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style. Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.
them often in all the synagogues
See the note on synagogue in 6:9.
and tried to force
The imperfect verb ἠνάγκαζον (ēnankazon) has been translated as a conative imperfect (so BDAG 60 s.v. ἀναγκάζω 1, which has “ἠνάγκαζον βλασφημεῖν I tried to force them to blaspheme Ac 26:11”).
them to blaspheme. Because I was so furiously enraged
Or “was so insanely angry with them.” BDAG 322 s.v. ἐμμαίνομαι states, “to be filled with such anger that one appears to be mad, be enraged…περισσῶς ἐμμαινόμενος αὐτοῖς being furiously enraged at them Ac 26:11”; L&N 88.182 s.v. ἐμμαίνομαι, “to be so furiously angry with someone as to be almost out of one’s mind - ‘to be enraged, to be infuriated, to be insanely angry’ …‘I was so infuriated with them that I even went to foreign cities to persecute them’ Ac 26:11.”
at them, I went to persecute
Or “I pursued them even as far as foreign cities.”
them even in foreign cities.

12 “While doing this very thing,
Grk “in which [activity].” Due to the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started at the beginning of v. 12 in the translation. The referent of the relative pronoun (“which”) was specified as “this very thing” for clarity.
as I was going
Grk “going.” The participle πορευόμενος (poreuomenos) has been taken temporally.
to Damascus with authority and complete power
L&N 37.40 s.v. ἐπιτροπή states, “the full authority to carry out an assignment or commission - ‘authority, complete power.’ πορευόμενος εἰς τὴν Δαμασκὸν μετ᾿ ἐξουσίας καὶ ἐπιτροπῆς τῶν ἀρχιερέων ‘going to Damascus with authority and complete power from the high priests’ Ac 26:12. In Ac 26:12 the combination of ἐξουσία and ἐπιτροπή serves to reinforce the sense of complete authority.”
from the chief priests,
13about noon along the road, Your Majesty,
Grk “O King.”
I saw a light from heaven,
Or “from the sky” (the same Greek word means both “heaven” and “sky”).
brighter than the sun, shining everywhere around
The word “everywhere” has been supplied in the translation to clarify the meaning of περιλάμψαν (perilamyan). Otherwise the modern reader might think that each of the individuals were encircled by lights or halos. See also Acts 9:7; 22:6, 9.
me and those traveling with me.
14When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic,
Grk “in the Hebrew language.” See Acts 22:7 and 9:4.
‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? You are hurting yourself
Grk “It is hard for you.”
by kicking against the goads.’
“Goads” are pointed sticks used to direct a draft animal (an idiom for stubborn resistance). See BDAG 539-40 s.v. κέντρον 2.
Sayings which contain the imagery used here (kicking against the goads) were also found in Greek writings; see Pindar, Pythians 2.94–96; Euripides, Bacchae 795.
15So I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord replied,
Grk “said.”
‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.
16But get up and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this reason, to designate you in advance
L&N 30.89 has “‘to choose in advance, to select beforehand, to designate in advance.’”
as a servant and witness
As a servant and witness. The commission is similar to Acts 1:8 and Luke 1:2. Paul was now an “eyewitness” of the Lord.
to the things
BDAG 719 s.v. ὁράω A.1.b states, “W. attraction of the relative ὧν = τούτων ἅ Lk 9:36; Ac 22:15. The attraction may be due to colloq. breviloquence in μάρτυρα ὧν τε εἶδες με ὧν τε ὀφθήσομαί σοι a witness to the things in which you saw me and to those in which I shall appear to you Ac 26:16b.”
you have seen
‡ Some mss read “of the things in which you have seen me.” The accusative object με (me, “me”) is found after εἶδές (eides) in B C*vid 614 945 1175 1505 1739 1891 2464 pc sy sa; it is lacking in Ƥ74 א A C2 E Ψ 096 Maj. latt bo. The external evidence is relatively evenly divided, though there is a slight preference for the omission. NA27 includes the word in brackets, indicating some doubt as to its authenticity.
and to the things in which I will appear to you.
17I will rescue
Grk “rescuing.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, the participle ἐξαιρούμενος (exairoumenos) has been translated as a finite verb and a new sentence started in the translation at the beginning of v. 17.
you from your own people
That is, from the Jewish people. Grk “the people”; the words “your own” have been supplied to clarify the meaning.
and from the Gentiles, to whom
The antecedent of the relative pronoun is probably both the Jews (“your own people”) and the Gentiles, indicating the comprehensive commission Paul received.
I am sending you
18to open their eyes so that they turn
To open their eyes so that they turn… Here is Luke’s most comprehensive report of Paul’s divine calling. His role was to call humanity to change their position before God and experience God’s forgiveness as a part of God’s family. The image of turning is a key one in the NT: Luke 1:79; Rom 2:19; 13:12; 2 Cor 4:6; 6:14; Eph 5:8; Col 1:12; 1 Thess 5:5. See also Luke 1:77–79; 3:3; 24:47.
from darkness to light and from the power
BDAG 352-53 s.v. ἐξουσία 2 states, “Also of Satan’s power Ac 26:18.” It is also possible to translate this “the domain of Satan” (cf. BDAG 353 s.v. 6)
of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share
Or “and an inheritance.”
among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

19 “Therefore, King Agrippa,
See the note on King Agrippa in 25:13.
I was not disobedient
I was not disobedient. Paul’s defense is that he merely obeyed the risen Jesus. He was arrested for obeying heavenly direction and preaching the opportunity to turn to God.
to the heavenly
According to L&N 1.5, “In Ac 26:19 the adjective οὐράνιος could be interpreted as being related simply to the meaning of οὐρανόςa ‘sky,’ but it seems preferable to regard οὐράνιος in this context as meaning simply ‘from heaven’ or ‘heavenly.’”
20but I declared to those in Damascus first, and then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea,
BDAG 1093-94 s.v. χώρα 2.b states, “of the provincial name (1 Macc 8:3) ἡ χώρα τῆς ᾿Ιουδαίας Ac 26:20.”
and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God,
That they should repent and turn to God. This is the shortest summary of Paul’s message that he preached.
performing deeds consistent with
BDAG 93 s.v. ἄξιος 1.b, “καρποὶ ἄ. τῆς μετανοίας fruits in keeping with your repentanceLk 3:8; Mt 3:8. For this ἄ. τῆς μετανοίας ἔργα Ac 26:20.” Note how Paul preached the gospel offer and the issue of response together, side by side.
21For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple courts
Grk “in the temple.” This is actually a reference to the courts surrounding the temple proper, and has been translated accordingly.
and were trying to kill me.
22I have experienced
Grk “So experiencing…I stand.” The participle τυχών (tucōn) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.
help from God to this day, and so I stand testifying to both small and great, saying nothing except
BDAG 311 s.v. ἐκτός 3.b, “functions as prep. w. gen. οὐδὲν ἐ. ὧν nothing except what (cf. 1 Ch 29:3; 2 Ch 17:19; TestNapht. 6:2) Ac 26:22.”
what the prophets and Moses said
What the prophets and Moses said. Paul argued that his message reflected the hope of the Jewish scriptures.
was going to happen:
BDAG 277-78 s.v. εἰ 2 has “marker of an indirect question as content, that…Sim. also (Procop. Soph., Ep. 123 χάριν ἔχειν εἰ = that) μαρτυρόμενος…εἰ παθητὸς ὁ Χριστός testifyingthat the Christ was to sufferAc 26:23.”
the Christ
Or “the Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”
See the note on Christ in 2:31.
was to suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, to proclaim light both to our people
That is, to the Jewish people. Grk “the people”; the word “our” has been supplied to clarify the meaning.
and to the Gentiles.”
Note how the context of Paul’s gospel message about Jesus, resurrection, and light both to Jews and to the Gentiles is rooted in the prophetic message of the OT scriptures. Paul was guilty of following God’s call and preaching the scriptural hope.

24 As Paul
Grk “he”; the referent (Paul) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
was saying these things in his defense, Festus
See the note on Porcius Festus in 24:27.
exclaimed loudly, “You have lost your mind,
On the term translated “lost your mind” see BDAG 610 s.v. μαίνομαι, which has “you’re out of your mind, you’re raving, said to one whose enthusiasm seems to have outrun better judgment 26:24.”
The expression “You have lost your mind” would be said to someone who speaks incredible things, in the opinion of the hearer. Paul’s mention of the resurrection (v. 23) was probably what prompted Festus to say this.
Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane!”
25But Paul replied,
Grk “said.”
“I have not lost my mind, most excellent Festus,
See the note on Porcius Festus in 24:27.
but am speaking
Or “declaring.” BDAG 125 s.v. ἀποφθέγγομαι states, “speak out, declare boldly or loudly…τὶ: σωφροσύνης ῥήματα Ac 26:25.”
true and rational
BDAG 987 s.v. σωφροσύνη 1 has “gener. soundness of mind, reasonableness, rationality…ἀληθείας καὶ σωφροσύνης ῥήματα true and rational words (opp. μαίνομαι) Ac 26:25.”
26For the king knows about these things, and I am speaking freely
BDAG 782 s.v. παρρησιάζομαι 1 states, “speak freely, openly, fearlessly…likew. in the ptc. w. a verb of saying foll.…παρρησιασάμενοι εἶπαν 13:46. - 26:26.” This could refer to boldness in speaking here.
to him,
Grk “to whom I am speaking freely.” The relative pronoun (“whom”) was replaced by the personal pronoun (“him”) to simplify the translation.
because I cannot believe
Grk “I cannot convince myself.” BDAG 792 s.v. πείθω 3.a states, “οὐ πείθομαι w. acc. and inf. I cannot believe Ac 26:26” (see also BDAG 586 s.v. λανθάνω).
that any of these things has escaped his notice,
BDAG 586 s.v. λανθάνω states, “λανθάνειν αὐτὸν τούτων οὐ πείθομαι οὐθέν I cannot bring myself to believe that any of these things has escaped his notice Ac 26:26.”
for this was not done in a corner.
This term refers to a hidden corner (BDAG 209 s.v. γωνία). Paul’s point is that these events to which he refers were not done in a secret, hidden place, tucked away outside of view. They were done in public for all the world to see.
27Do you believe the prophets,
“Do you believe the prophets?” Note how Paul made the issue believing the OT prophets and God’s promise which God fulfilled in Christ. He was pushing King Agrippa toward a decision not for or against Paul’s guilt of any crime, but concerning Paul’s message.
King Agrippa?
See the note on King Agrippa in 25:13.
I know that you believe.”
See the note on King Agrippa in 25:13.
said to Paul, “In such a short time are you persuading me to become a Christian?”
Or “In a short time you will make me a Christian.” On the difficulty of the precise nuances of Agrippa’s reply in this passage, see BDAG 791 s.v. πείθω 1.b. The idiom is like 1 Kgs 21:7 LXX. The point is that Paul was trying to persuade Agrippa to accept his message. If Agrippa had let Paul persuade him, he would have converted to Christianity.
The question “In such a short time are you persuading me to become a Christian?” was probably a ploy on Agrippa’s part to deflect Paul from his call for a decision. Note also how the tables have turned: Agrippa was brought in to hear Paul’s defense, and now ends up defending himself. The questioner is now being questioned.
29Paul replied, “I pray to God that whether in a short or a long time
BDAG 703 s.v. ὀλίγος 2.b.β has “καὶ ἐν ὀλ. καὶ ἐν μεγάλῳ whether in a short or a long time vs. 29 (cf. B-D-F #195; GWhitaker, The Words of Agrippa to St. Paul: JTS 15, 1914, 82f; AFridrichsen, SymbOsl 14, ’35, 50; Field, Notes 141–43; s. Rob. 653).”
not only you but also all those who are listening to me today could become such as I am, except for these chains.”
Except for these chains. The chains represented Paul’s unjust suffering for the sake of the message. His point was, in effect, “I do not care how long it takes. I only hope you and everyone else hearing this would become believers in Christ, but without my unjust suffering.”

30 So the king got up, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them, 31and as they were leaving they said to one another,
Grk “they spoke to one another saying.” The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant in English and has not been translated.
“This man is not doing anything deserving
BDAG 93 s.v. ἄξιος 1.b has “θανάτου ἢ δεσμῶν ἄ. nothing deserving death or imprisonment 23:29; 26:31.”
Not doing anything deserving death… Here is yet another declaration of Paul’s innocence, but still no release. The portrayal shows how unjust Paul’s confinement was.
death or imprisonment.”
See the note on King Agrippa in 25:13.
said to Festus,
See the note on Porcius Festus in 24:27.
“This man could have been released
Or “set free.”
if he had not appealed to Caesar.”
Or “to the emperor” (“Caesar” is a title for the Roman emperor).
If he had not appealed to Caesar. Ultimately Agrippa and Festus blamed what Paul himself had done in appealing to Caesar for his own continued custody. In terms of Luke’s narrative, this still appears unjust and a denial of responsibility.

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