New European Commentary

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Deeper Commentary


26:1 And Agrippa said to Paul: You are permitted to speak for yourself. Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defence- "For yourself" may be a reference here to how Paul defended himself, and did not use any advocate or legal team. We recall how the Jews had made use of one, Tertullus, to make their case in an earlier trial. Paul was using these trials as an opportunity to witness to the Gospel and not just to defend himself. We can sense his eagerness as he makes his case for Christ.

26:2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, that I am to make my defence before you this day concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews- Agrippa was Herod Agrippa the second. The whole Herod family had had the Gospel witnessed to them. Herod the Great was told of the birth of the Lord by the wise men and Jewish scribes; his son Antipas and granddaughter Herodias were witnessed to by John the Baptist; his son Agrippa the first had killed James and tried to kill Peter because their message had tweaked his conscience; and now his son Agrippa II was being witnessed to by Paul. This was a family the Lord surely tried to appeal to. Again we sense Paul's eager using of these trials as an opportunity to witness; as his appeal to Caesar had been accepted, he could have actually refused to testify in this trial. But he eagerly used the opportunity to witness by all means, and we need to take some of that spirit with us in our lives.

The codex Beza adds at this point: "taking courage, and receiving comfort by the Holy Spirit". In this case, Paul is directly alluding to his Lord's promise to provide the right words to say in times of public witness under persecution such as this (Mt. 10:18-20).

26:3 Especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews. Therefore, I beg that you hear me patiently- "Hear me patiently" is an allusion to the LXX of Prov. 25:15: "By long patience is a prince persuaded". Paul had the spiritual ambition to even try to convert Agrippa. We too need that ambition, never writing people off as unreachable by our witness. Agrippa "the prince" is perhaps framed in terms of this verse when he is recorded as replying using the same word as in Prov. 25:15: "You almost persuade me to be a Christian" (:28).

26:4 My manner of life from my youth, which was from the beginning among my own nation and at Jerusalem, do all the Jews know- The Jews who were accusing Paul had personally known him in his Pharisee days. They were personal witnesses of his transformation.

26:5 Having knowledge of me from the first (if they are willing to admit it) that after the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee- The Jews were unwilling to admit [Gk. 'be legal witnesses in court'] that they knew Paul's past. For it was his radical transformation which was in fact the great witness to the utter truth of Paul's case. By denying it, they were witnesses against themselves. They were in denial of his transformation, which was the proof of the things he taught about the Lord Jesus. And likewise, presentation of true theology alone in our age will convert very few. It is the truth of it seen in our lives which is the compelling witness.

26:6- see on Acts 22:6.

And now I stand here to be judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers- This is another statement to the effect that the Christian Gospel offered the same sure hope which the promise to Abraham and the fathers offered to Abraham and his singular seed. The Lord's death had opened the scope of that promise to whoever wished to associate with the seed. Paul is arguing that the accusations against him are really all about the promise God made to the Jewish fathers. The Jews were therefore accusing God far more than himself.

26:7 To which our twelve tribes earnestly serve night and day, hoping to attain the promises. And concerning this hope I am accused by the Jews, O king!- "Night and day" refers to the evening and morning synagogue services, where the promises to Abraham were alluded to or repeated. Paul goes on to explain that the hope of attaining the promises implied belief in a resurrection; for the promises of eternal inheritance, blessing etc. had clearly not been obtained and could only be obtained by immortalization. The Sadducees amongst his accusers would of course take issue with this, as they denied the resurrection and argued that the promises gave hope only in this life. Hence their manic materialism. But Paul doesn't appear to raise that point; his appeal at this point was to his judges, seeking to convert them, rather than seeking to expose the obvious lines of weakness in the position of his opponents. And this needs to be remembered in all our witness; that we are seeking to convert to Christ, rather than merely exposing logical error in those who are against us.

26:8 Why would any of you think it incredible that God raises the dead?- If we have really died and resurrected with the Lord, we will be dead unto the things of this world (Col. 2:20; 3:1). This is why Paul could imply that the greatest proof that Christ had risen from the dead was the change in character which had occurred within him (Acts 26:8 ff.). This was “the power of his resurrection"; and it works within us too. The death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth aren’t just facts we know; if they are truly believed, there is within them the power of ultimate transformation.

"Any of you..." is an attempt to soften the force of Paul's repeated appeals to Agrippa personally as "you". Paul has so far said nothing specific about the resurrection. But he sees that Agrippa thinks or [Gk. krino] 'judges' that incredible, a bridge too far for his faith. But Paul implies that in fact, Agrippa is not judging Paul personally so much as judging within his own mind whether Christ rose from the dead. Which, Paul is implying, is what this court case is all about. Paul cuts to the essence- the whole issue was not about him personally and his alleged desecration of the temple. It was about whether men judged that Jesus had resurrected. That was the core of the case, psychologically and subconsciously; and this is why Paul goes on to unashamedly preach to Agrippa and seek his conversion. Just as God made huge personal efforts to convert men like Pharoah and Nebuchadnezzar. At least we must take the lesson that we should seek to convert literally all men; for all have a conscience.

26:9 I truly thought that I should do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth- The "thought" connects with the challenge of :8 as to why any should "think" resurrection to be incredible. Paul is saying that his changed thinking could be replicated in them also changing their thinking about the Lord Jesus. Paul remains on the psychological level, as discussed on :8. He sees that Agrippa is thinking to deny his own conscience, just as Paul had done. Just as Paul had imprisoned people because of his bad conscience (:10), so Agrippa would be doing if he left Paul in prison.

26:10 And this I did in Jerusalem, and I shut up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death I gave my vote against them- "This I did" shows that his "thought" of :9 became action; he is recognizing the truth of the Lord's teaching that thought is action. The repeated account of Paul's conversion in Acts, when the record is highly abbreviated otherwise, is because Paul is set up as the parade example of all conversions to Christ (1 Tim. 1:13-18).

26:11 And in all the synagogues I often punished them- I am convinced that a major reason for the success of the early church was that they weren’t paranoid about issues of fellowship and guilt-by-association; they were simply radical preachers. They preached an exclusive message, but they wished to be inclusive rather than exclusive. The Lord Himself taught that the time would come when His followers would be disfellowshipped from the synagogues. But He doesn’t teach them to leave the synagogues, even though first century Judaism was both doctrinally and morally corrupt. Acts 26:11 would seem to imply that there were Christians “in every synagogue”.

Trying to force them to blaspheme- Gk. 'necessitated'. It could be claimed that it is never 'necessary' to blaspheme; for some died under torture, not accepting any way out, and thus shall receive a "better resurrection" (Heb. 11:35). But Paul takes a more gracious view here; he recognized that the torture he had applied left the Christians with no other human choice but to blaspheme the name of Jesus, and he takes full blame for this. See on 1 Tim. 1:13.

And being furiously enraged at them, I persecuted them even in foreign cities- Paul’s progressive appreciation of his own sinfulness is reflected in how he describes what he did in persecuting Christians in ever more terrible terms, the older he gets. He describes his victims as “men and women” whom he ‘arrested’ (Acts 8:3; 22:4), then he admits he threatened and murdered them (Acts 9:3), then he persecuted “the way” unto death (Acts 22:4); then he speaks of them as “those who believe” (Acts 22:19) and finally, in a crescendo of shame with himself, he speaks of how he furiously persecuted, like a wild animal, unto the death, “many of the saints”, not only in Palestine but also “to foreign [Gentile] cities” (Acts 26:10,11). He came to appreciate his brethren the more, as he came to realize the more his own sinfulness. And this is surely a pattern for us all.  

26:12- see on Acts 22:6.

Thus I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests- These were the very men who were accusing him, and he is now stating that they were involved as accessories to extrajudicial murder and torture. "Thus I journeyed" invites his audience to imagine the rabid thinking which dominated his mind; the psychological change in him could only have been achieved by external agency. And that agency was the spirit of the risen Lord.

26:13- see on Acts 22:6.

But at midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining around me and those that journeyed with me- The repeated "O King" is because Paul was specifically seeking to convert Agrippa. His spiritual ambition in attempting this is an encouragement to us all in our witness to those who seem so unreachable by the Gospel we preach. "Shining around me" suggests the light was not shone down from Heaven as in a beam; but that the Lord Himself stood near Paul, next to him. The word literally means 'to be a halo around'. Paul was in this sense sanctified, made a saint, through standing with the Lord. Those with him could have responded to this grace too, but chose not to. "And those that journeyed with me" would suggest that the Lord sought to bring them from darkness to light also, but they refused to understand the word spoken, although they heard it.

26:14 And when we had all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic: Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the cattle prod- The idea is that Paul understood the voice that was speaking; whereas the men with him heard the voice but chose not to understand. Perhaps Saul had been observing oxen ploughing along the road to Damascus, hence the usage of that analogy. The Lord's question as to "why" Saul so persecuted the believers in the body of Christ was left unanswered. The answer was that Paul's bad conscience was leading him to denial, and that denial was expressing itself in unreasonable anger. And the Jews who were persecuting Paul were in just the same situation. They knew in their consciences that Jesus of Nazareth had been their Messiah; "this is the heir, come let us kill Him" was how the Lord's parable explained it. That guilty conscience meant a desire to eliminate those like Paul who had at first denied it and then accepted it. They were driven by the very same psychological factors which Paul was driven by.

26:15 And I said: Who are you, Lord? And the Lord said: I am Jesus whom you persecute- The question "Why?" was answered by Saul with the question "Who are you, Lord?". This may not have been a request for information. It is perhaps in the spirit of Jacob's meeting with Angel, wrestling God as Saul had done, and then asking the Angel's name as Jacob did (Gen. 32:29). As the Lord Jesus called Saul by name, so the Angel gave Jacob a new name, Israel. And it could be that although unrecorded, the Lord then changed Saul to Paul. To ask someone's name can be understood as a Hebraism for recognizing their greatness or superiority.

26:16 But arise, and stand upon your feet- This is a quotation from Ezekiel's experience, having seen the glory of God and being asked to go and witness it to an Israel who would not listen because they preferred Babylon (Ez. 2:1,2).

For to this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a servant and a witness both of the things in which you have seen me, and of the things which I will reveal to you- “A servant” is literally, a slave. The apostles in their letters usually open by reminding their readers that they are slaves of the Lord Jesus- this is how they saw themselves. Paul was called to be a slave of the Gospel (Acts 26:16; Gk. hypereten- a galley slave, rowing the boat chained to the oars). There were slaves who were made stewards or managers [‘bishops’] of the Master’s business, but essentially they themselves were still slaves.

26:17 Delivering you from the people of the Jews and from the Gentiles, to whom I send you- Paul was therefore confident that he could not be ultimately destroyed by the union of Jews and Gentiles now gathered against him. But we must factor in here that eventually, the Lord did not deliver him from Gentile power and he died under Nero's persecution. The promise of deliverance was therefore in order that he might conduct his intended ministry; but when that ministry was over, then he was in fact delivered to the power of Gentile persecution and execution.

26:18 T
o open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light- The Lord Jesus seems to have encouraged Paul to see Moses as his hero. Thus he asked him to go and live in Arabia before beginning his ministry, just as Moses did (Gal. 1:17). When he appeared to Paul on the Damascus road, he spoke in terms reminiscent of the Angel's commission to Moses at the burning bush: “I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of those things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the (Jewish) people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to...turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance... Whereupon... I (Paul) was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision" (Acts 26:16-19). Moses was promised that he would be protected from Pharaoh so that he could bring out God's people from the darkness of Egyptian slavery ("the power of Satan"); going from darkness to light is used by Peter as an idiom to describe Israel's deliverance from Egypt, which the new Israel should emulate (1 Pet. 2:9). Moses led Israel out of Egypt so that they might be reconciled to God, and be led by him to the promised inheritance of Canaan. As Moses was eventually obedient to that heavenly vision, so was Paul- although perhaps he too went through (unrecorded) struggles to be obedient to it, after the pattern of Moses being so reluctant.

Paul was to bring others to the light just as John had (Lk. 1:77,79 =  Acts 13:47; 26:18,23).

God’s manifestation of His word through preaching is limited by the amount of manifestation His preachers allow it. Through the first century preaching of the Gospel, men and women were "turned from darkness to light... that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified" (Acts 26:18).

And from the power of Satan to God-

 There are some clear contrasts drawn here:

To open their eyes

(They were blind).

To turn them from darkness

to light.

From the power of Satan (sin)

unto God (cp. 1 Jn. 1:5).


receive forgiveness of sins.

(Gentiles without inheritance by faith in “the hope of Israel”)

them (the Jews) that had access to sanctification by faith.


 Ephesians 4:17–20 almost seems to directly allude back to this passage in Acts 26:18: “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ...”. Being under the power of Satan is therefore a result of having an empty, vain, fleshly mind (i.e. the Satan of evil desires in our mind having full power) and being ignorant, without understanding. Matthew 13:19 says that Satan (cp. Mk. 4:15) has power over a person because of their lack of understanding of the Word. Ephesians 4:17–20 is referring to the same thing as “the power of Satan” defined in Acts 26:18. “To open their eyes” implies to have the eyes of understanding opened (cp. Eph. 1:18).


 Acts 26:18 implies that it was “the power of Satan” that stopped the Gentiles from sharing the inheritance of the Gospel which was preached to the Jews in the promises (Gal. 3:8; Jn. 4:22). “Satan” is often connected with the Law and the Jewish system. Maybe this is another example. Note too the allusions in this verse to Is. 42:6,7: “I... will... keep you, and give you for a... light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house”. This equates the power of Satan with a prison house, and the Law is likened to a prison in Gal. 3:23 and 4:3.

There are allusions in Acts 26:18 to the Jews’ crucifixion of Jesus: “This is your hour, and the power of darkness” (Lk. 22:53); “Satan” (the Jews) has desired to have you” (Lk. 22:31), Jesus warned the disciples at the last supper.

The previous verse (Acts 26:17) shows the Lord Jesus strengthening Paul to be brave in his mission to the Gentiles – “delivering you from the [Jewish] people, and from the Gentiles”. Jesus Himself was “delivered to the Gentiles” (Lk. 18:32–33) for crucifixion by the Jews, and Mk. 15:15 implies Jesus was delivered to “the people”, too. The phrase “the people’ frequently occurs in the crucifixion records. It is as if Jesus is saying: ‘I was delivered to the Gentiles and (Jewish) people because of My preaching; I am now commissioning you to preach, facing the same battle against (the Jewish) Satan and man’s blindness to the Word of God, due to his love of the flesh, as I did; but I will deliver you from the Gentiles and Jewish people, rather than deliver you to them, as I was. You are going to spend your life going through the same experiences as I faced in My last hours’. Thus, in yet another way, we can understand how Paul could say “I am crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20).

To the end they may receive remission of sins and an inheritance among those that are sanctified by faith in me- Salvation is not a purely personal matter. It is part of a shared experience, something we obtain a part in. Christ is His body. He doesn't exist separate from His body; for all existence in the Bible is bodily existence. And we are His body. He is us. Likewise we are the branches of the Christ-vine (Jn. 15). Because we are all in the one body of Christ, therefore we are intimately associated with the other parts of the body.

26:19- see on Acts 13:9.

Therefore, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision- "Disobedient" is literally 'not persuaded'. Paul is saying that he was not unpersuaded by the Lord's appearance. And this is the same word used by Agrippa in :28, when he says Paul has almost persuaded him to become a Christian. Paul was witnessing from his own experience of being persuaded by the Lord; and he wants to persuade others.

26:20- see on Acts 13:24,25.

But declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to their repentance- It seems likely that Paul went to hear John the Baptist preach; "there went out to him all the land of Judea and they of Jerusalem" (Mk. 1:5), and at this time Paul was living in Jerusalem. I believe Paul heard John and was convicted by him of Christ. John preached the need to "bring forth fruits meet unto repentance" (Mt. 3:8); and Paul here made those his own watchwords in his world-wide preaching.

Paul preached that men "should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance" (Acts 26:18-20). As with Mt. 21:28-31, this refers primarily to baptism. "Repent and turn to God" surely matches "Repent and be baptized" in Acts 2:38. Turning to God is associated with baptism in Acts 9:35; 11:21; 15:19; 1 Thess. 1:9.  Following conversion, our works should match the profession of faith we have made. But there is no proof here for the equation 'Forgiveness = repentance + forsaking'. The "works" seem to refer to positive achievement rather than undoing the results of past failures. Works meet for repentance are fruits of repentance (Mt. 3:8 cp. Lk. 3:8). We have shown that there are different degrees of fruit/ repentance which God accepts, and that this fruit is brought forth to God, and that its development takes time. We cannot therefore disfellowship a believer for not bringing forth fruit in one aspect of his life.

16:21 For this cause the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me- The "cause" was that they had been called upon to repent, and their refusal to do so was leading them to try to kill Paul. This is how conscience works. We seek to eliminate the persons or issues causing our guilt, and which summon us to repentance. The opposition to Christian preaching is exactly because it is [or should be] a call to repentance.

26:22 Therefore, having obtained the help that is from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses did say should happen- "The help that is from God" was the gift of the Spirit, both in cleansing Paul psychologically from his past, and in empowering him in his life's work of witness. Paul testified to the Lord Jesus (e.g. Acts 26:22; 1 Cor. 15:15 s.w.), and He in turn bore witness to the [preaching of] the word of his grace (Acts 15:8). In Paul's witness lay His witness. The reference to "small and great" is yet another hint that Paul is witnessing specifically at this time to "the great", his judges. And Paul insists that he is saying nothing radically new, and therefore Judaism ought to have no problem with him teaching what was in their own Scriptures.

26:23 That the Christ must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles- Elsewhere, Paul took a prophecy concerning how Christ personally would be the light of the whole world (Is. 49:6), and applies it to himself in explanation of why he was devoted to being a light to the whole world himself (Acts 13:47- although here in 26:23 he applies it to Jesus personally). Paul even says that this prophecy of Christ as the light of the world was a commandment to him; all that is true of the Lord Jesus likewise becomes binding upon us, because we are in Him. Note that Paul says that God has commanded us to witness; it wasn’t that Paul was a special case, and God especially applied Isaiah’s words concerning Christ as light of the Gentiles to Paul. They apply to us, to all who are in Christ. And when on trial, Paul explained his preaching to the Jews “and then to the Gentiles” as being related to the fact that he had to “shew” the Gospel to them because Christ rose from the dead to “shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:20,23). In other words, he saw his personal preaching as shewing forth the light of Jesus personally.

The RV offers another slant on this. The Lord Jesus was the light of the world on account of His resurrection: “He first by the resurrection from the dead should proclaim light both to the [Jewish] people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:23 RV). If we are baptized into His death and resurrection, we too are the light of this world in that the light of His life breaks forth in us. And this is exactly why belief in His resurrection is an imperative to preach it. And it’s why the great commission flows straight out of the resurrection narrative.

We have suggested elsewhere that Paul was first called to the Gospel by the preaching of John the Baptist. He initially refused to heed the call to “do works meet for repentance”. But, fully aware of this, he preached this very same message to others (Mt. 3:8 cp. Acts 26:20).

26:24 And as he thus made his defence, Festus said with a loud voice: Paul, you are mad. Your much learning is turning you mad- The loudness of the voice was surely a statement of the depth of unease within his conscience. Again, we see a basic psychological lesson: the louder a person shouts down another, the louder is the internal voice of their own disquiet at the truth being presented. Luke uses the same term in describing how the Jews "with loud voices" demanded both the Lord's crucifixion and the death of Stephen, who had likewise touched their consciences (Lk. 23:23; Acts 7:57). The reference to "much learning", much reading of words, may be a reference to how Paul perhaps had begged for the scriptures to be brought to him in his confinement, and he spent his time for those many months poring over the parchments. We recall how he begged Timothy to bring him such scrolls when imprisoned in Rome.

26:25 But Paul said: I am not mad, most excellent Festus, but speak words of truth and soberness- Point blank disagreement with a powerful judge who is shouting at you isn't a smart thing to do. But Paul was there to witness, to seek to convert his judges, rather than to justify himself. If he were out for self-preservation, as are most men who stand in the dock, he would have let this accusation go unchallenged. But Paul is alluding to how he had been "exceedingly mad" before his conversion (:11); and now he was sane.

26:26 For the king knows of these things, to whom also I speak freely. For I am persuaded that none of these things is hidden from him. For this has not been done in a corner- Paul is really out to convert the king; he says that the king knows the truth of all he is saying, and appeals for him to be honest to his conscience and not kick against the goads. The king was of course appraised of the situation with Paul- everybody knew that. So "none of these things is hidden from him" more naturally refers to the truth of the appeal Paul is making to him.

Paul exhorts us to speak ‘freely’ in our preaching (2 Cor. 3:12), just as he himself “spoke freely’ in his witness to Agrippa. He there is our pattern. Our salvation is through faith in God's absolute grace; but if it is real faith, we will preach it on the housetops, we simply can't keep the knowledge of such grace, such great salvation, to ourselves. "Having, then, such hope, we use much freedom of speech" in preaching (2 Cor. 3:12 YLT). 

Despite this direct and emotional appeal, Paul still framed it in terms understandable by his audience; "this has not been done in a corner" is a quotation from Plato. According to Simon Kistemaker, it was a term "which philosophers pejoratively used for uneducated teachers". Paul seems to be saying that he is highly qualified as a teacher- but because of experience, rather than academic qualification.

26:27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you believe- This suggests that Paul in full flow, even shackled and in prison clothes, had a fleck of arrogance and aggression in his presentation. He was challenging the very conscience of his king and judge. He addresses Agrippa directly by the personal pronoun "you" (:2,3,7,19,27), and mentions his name, when usually a king was addressed by titles and not addressed as "you" in this way. This sets a pattern for our personal appeal to people in our preaching. To ask a personal question like that of your king-judge was just not to be done in court. It would be judged today as contempt of court. But Paul was not standing there in self-defence, but for witness, all out of persuade towards faith in Christ. And that is what our witness should be; not self-defending our theological positions, but earnestly seeking to persuade towards faith in our hearers. How did Paul know that Agrippa believed the prophets? Was there an awkward silence in response to his question? Or was Paul being purely rhetorical, hastening on to say that he knew or recognized that Agrippa claimed to believe the Jewish prophets. We can assume that Luke's highly abbreviated account of the trial has left out frequent quotation from the prophets by Paul, in order to demonstrate that the Lord had to die, rise again and be witnessed to by the members of His glorified body.

And Agrippa said to Paul: You almost persuade me to become a Christian- Paul was not against using persuasion; he didn’t just ‘preach the truth’ and leave it for others to decide. Agrippa commented: “With but a little [more] persuasion thou wouldest fain make me a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that whether with little [persuasion] or with much, not only thou but also all that hear me this day, might become such as I am” (Acts 26:28,29 RV). Paul wasn’t against using persuasion to bring men unto his Lord, and neither should we be. He didn't just make a lame witness to true propositions and leave it to his audience to believe or disbelieve it.

Agrippa's words "You almost persuade me to become a Christian" may have been muttered as an aside; and they may have been a total departure from how a king-judge is supposed to act in court. The power of Paul's testimony was such that even he had to admit the effect it was having upon him. We can be encouraged that the message we preach is of huge power in the consciences of others, regardless of all the apparent disinterest. If you stand on a street corner handing out fliers advertising a product, people will be mildly polite in covering their disinterest. But when they see it's about religion or Christianity... their body language often changes. And if they read further what is on the tract, their response is utterly unlike the response observable in a person reading a flier advertising a product for sale.

26:29 And Paul said: I will pray to God, that whether in a little time or a longer time, not you only, but also all that hear me this day might become as I am (apart from these chains)- This was Paul's whole intention. His ambition to make converts knew no bounds. He wasn't only going for Agrippa... he wished the entire audience, including the Jews, would follow his example and path of conversion. They too could stop kicking against the goads of their own consciences and be released into the wonderful freedom of the bondservants of the Lord Jesus. "Apart from these chains" is one of several times when Paul's deep frustration with his situation cannot help but come through. He wasn't appealing for release- for he had appealed to be heard by Caesar, knowing this meant yet more prison time. He made that appeal in order for the Gospel to spread; but he paid a great price for it, willingly. For his "chains" were a deep frustration to him. But he was willing to endure them longer, so that the Gospel could be spread on the very highest levels of the world in which he lived.

26:30 And the king rose up and the governor and Bernice and they that sat with them- The rising up of the judge was to signal that the proceedings were over. We are left with the impression that there was no summing up speech by the judge; just a hasty and abrupt end to the proceedings, with Paul having had the last word in :29, in appealing for conversion. The abrupt ending of the court proceedings is a powerful testimony to the power of Paul's witness. He had so touched the consciences of his judges that the trial was ended in a moment. Surely no other accused person has ever achieved anything like this in human history; bearing in mind that his judges were the most powerful political rulers in his area.

26:31 And when they had withdrawn, they spoke to each other, saying: This man does nothing worthy of death or of imprisonment- We can imagine them chatting things over later that evening, over coffee [or whatever], as it were. Again Luke is making the point that Paul chose to appeal to Caesar because he wanted to visit Rome in order to witness to the Gospel there, and perhaps he had some idea of getting Christianity legally recognized as a religion just as Judaism was. Perhaps we should give due weight to the present tense, "does nothing"; there obviously had to be some reason given in the documentation accompanying Paul's case, but the reasons given would have to result to alleged past behaviour rather than anything ongoing. The anti-Christian legislation of Nero was yet to come. Agrippa and Festus obviously didn't want their private chat with each other broadcast; and yet here it is, recorded publicly for all generations. Perhaps Luke initially got his information from Agrippa or a source close to him. Perhaps he became a secret believer. In 28:18 Paul speaks as if it were common knowledge that Agrippa and Festus would have released him had he not appealed to Caesar. Or perhaps inspiration beamed this information into Luke. He is obviously drawing parallels with how the Roman powers found no fault in the Lord Jesus, but Jewish insistence all the same led to His death. It could be another way of emphasizing that Paul's imprisonment and final demise was ultimately the fault of the Jews and not the Romans. They truly were the great satan / adversary to the Lord's work in the first century- and are often referred to as such. The extended record of Paul's trials demonstrates that Claudius Lysias, Festus and Agrippa all concluded Paul was innocent; but it was Jewish envy and political machinations, therefore, which kept him imprisoned.

26:32 And Agrippa said to Festus: This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed to Caesar- See on :31. Again the connections are with the Lord's death; Pilate was determined to set the Lord at liberty (Acts 3:13 s.w.), but the Jews machinated so that Roman power was overridden. Surely Paul perceived the connections at the time, and would have taken great encouragement from realizing that his sufferings were those of his Lord. And we are to understand our life experience likewise. Paul was so frustrated by the "chain" of his imprisonment, and we are left to wonder whether he would have been better not to appeal to Caesar, not to force through the fulfilment of the Lord's words that he must bear witness in Rome, and allow the Lord's word of promise to come true in His own way and time. This may have allowed him a few more years of powerful ministry. Looking back at our own lives, we can see how the paths taken could have been so much more effective if we had not tried to force things through in our own strength.