Vincent's Word Studies
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
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:
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.
Lit., a knower.
See on Acts 15:2.
My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
My manner of life, etc
The repeated articles give additional precision to the statement: "the manner of life, that which was from my youth; that which was from the beginning."
Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
For the hope ( ἐπ' ἐλπίδι)
Lit., "on the ground of the hope."
Made of God
The article clearly defines what promise, "the one, namely, made of God."
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.
Twelve tribes (δωδεκάφυλον)
Only here in New Testament. A collective term, embracing the tribes as a whole. Meyer renders our twelve-tribe-stock.
Instantly (ἐν ἐκτενείᾳ)
Only here in New Testament. Lit., in intensity. See on fervently, 1 Peter 1:22. Compare more earnestly, Luke 22:44; without ceasing, Acts 12:5; fervent, 1 Peter 4:8. See, also, on instantly and instant, Luke 7:4; Luke 23:23.
Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?
That God should raise the dead (εἰ ὁ Θεὸς νεκροὺς ἐγείρει)
Much better, as Rev., if God raises the dead. He does not put it as a supposition, but as a fact: if God raises the dead, as you admit that he has the power to do, and as your own writings tell you that he has done.
I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
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.
Saints (τῶν ἁγίων)
Lit., the holy ones. Paul did not call the Christians by this name when addressing the Jews, for this would have enraged them; but before Agrippa he uses the word without fear of giving offence. On this word ἅγιος, holy, which occurs over two hundred times in the New Testament, it is to be noted how the writers of the Greek scriptures, both in the New Testament and, what is more remarkable, in the Septuagint, bring it out from the background in which it was left by classical writers, and give preference to it over words which, in pagan usage, represented conceptions of mere externality in religion. Even in the Old Testament, where externality is emphasized, ἅγιος is the standard word for holy.
Gave my voice (κατήνεγκα ψῆφον)
Lit., laid down my vote. See on counteth, Luke 14:28. Some suppose that Paul here refers to casting his vote as a member of the Sanhedrim; in which case he must have been married and the father of a family. But this there is no reason for believing (compare 1 Corinthians 7:7, 1 Corinthians 7:8); and the phrase may be taken as expressing merely moral assent and approval.
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.
Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,
Whereupon (ἐν οἶς)
See on Acts 24:18. Better, on which errand; in which affairs of persecution.
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.
Above the brightness of the sun
Peculiar to this third account of Paul's conversion. The other peculiarities are: the falling of his companions to the ground along with himself; the voice addressing him in Hebrew; and the words, "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks."
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.
It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks
Or, goads. The sharp goad carried in the ploughman's hand, against which the oxen kick on being pricked. The metaphor, though not found in Jewish writings, was common in Greek and Roman writings. Thus, Euripides ("Bacchae," 791): "Being enraged, I would kick against the goads, a mortal against a god." Plautus ("Truculentus, 4, 2, 55): "If you strike the goads with your fists, you hurt your hands more than the goads." "Who knows whether at that moment the operation of ploughing might not be going on within sight of the road along which the persecutor was travelling? (Howson, "Metaphors of St. Paul").
And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
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;
Have I appeared (ὤφθην)
See on Luke 22:43.
To make (προχειρίσασθαι)
Better, as Rev., appoint. See on Acts 3:20.
A minister and a witness
Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
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.
Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
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.
For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.
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:
Help of God (ἐπικουρίας τῆς παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ)
Lit., "help that is from God." The article defines the nature of the help more sharply than A. V. The word for help originally meant alliance.
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.
That Christ should suffer (εἰ παθητὸς ὁ Χριστὸς)
Rather, if or whether the Messiah is liable to suffering. He expresses himself in a problematic form, because it was the point of debate among the Jews whether a suffering Messiah was to be believed in. They believed in a triumphant Messiah, and the doctrine of his sufferings was an obstacle to their receiving him as Messiah. Note the article, "the Christ," and see on Matthew 1:1.
And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
Much learning doth make thee mad (τὰ πολλά σε γράμματα εἰς μανίαν περιτρέπει)
The A. V. omits the article with much learning: "the much knowledge" with which thou art busied. Rev., "thy much learning." Doth make thee mad: literally, is turning thee to madness.
But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
Speak forth (ἀποφθέγγομαι)
See on Acts 2:4.
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.
King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
Almost thou persuadest (ἐν ὀλίγῳ με πείθεις)
Lit., in a little thou persuadest. The rendering almost must be rejected, being without sufficient authority. The phrase, in a little, is adverbial, and means in brief; summarily. We may supply pains or talk. "With little pains, or with a few words." The words are ironical, and the sense is, "You are trying to persuade me off-hand to be a Christian." Thou persuadest (πείθεις) is, rather, thou art for persuading; thou attemptest to persuade; a force which both the present and the imperfect sometimes have.
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.
Almost and altogether (ἐν ολίγῳ καὶ ἐν μεγάλῳ).
Lit., in little and in great; i.e., with little or with great pains.
Better, as Rev., might become. Agrippa's word, "to become a Christian," is repeated.
Except these bonds
An exquisite touch of Christian courtesy.
And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them:
The king, the governor, Bernice
Mentioned in the order of their rank.
And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.
Referring, not to Paul's past conduct, but to the general character of his life.
Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.