Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
act 26:1And Paul stretching forth his hand - Chained as it was: a decent expression of his own earnestness, and proper to engage the attention of his hearers; answered for himself - Not only refuting the accusations of the Jews, but enlarging upon the faith of the Gospel.
act 26:2King Agrippa - There is a peculiar force in thus addressing a person by name. Agrippa felt this.
act 26:3Who art accurately acquainted - Which Festus was not; with the customs - In practical matters; and questions - In speculative. This word Festus had used in the absence of Paul, Act 25:19, who, by the Divine leading, repeats and explains it. Agrippa had had peculiar advantages for an accurate knowledge of the Jewish customs and questions, from his education under his father Herod, and his long abode at Jerusalem. Nothing can be imagined more suitable or more graceful, than this whole discourse of Paul before Agrippa; in which the seriousness of the Christian, the boldness of the apostle, and the politeness of the gentleman and the scholar, appear in a most beautiful contrast, or rather a most happy union.
act 26:4From my youth, which was from the beginning - That is, which was from the beginning of my youth.
act 26:5If they would testify - But they would not, for they well knew what weight his former life must add to his present testimony.
act 26:6And now - Act 26:6-8 are in a kind of parenthesis, and show that what the Pharisees rightly taught concerning the resurrection, Paul likewise asserted at this day. Act 26:9is connected with Act 26:5. For Pharisaism impelled him to persecute. I stand in judgment for the hope of the promise - Of the resurrection. So it was in effect. For unless Christ had risen, there could have been no resurrection of the dead. And it was chiefly for testifying the resurrection of Christ, that the Jews still persecuted him.
act 26:7Our twelve tribes - For a great part of the ten tribes also had at various times returned from the east to their own country, Jam 1:1; Pe1 1:1. Worshipping continually night and day - That is, this is what they aim at in all their public and private worship.
act 26:8Is it judged by you an incredible thing - It was by Festus, Act 25:19, to whom Paul answers as if he had heard him discourse.
act 26:9I thought - When I was a Pharisee: that I ought to do many things - Which he now enumerates.
act 26:10I shut up many of the saints - Men not only innocent, but good, just, holy. I gave my vote against them - That is, I joined with those who condemned them. Perhaps the chief priests did also give him power to vote on these occasions.
act 26:11I compelled them - That is, some of them; to blaspheme - This is the most dreadful of all! Repent, ye enemies of the Gospel. If Spira, who was compelled, suffered so terribly, what will become of those who compel, like Saul, but do not repent like him.
act 26:12Act 9:2.
act 26:13O King - Most seasonably, in the height of the narration, does he thus fix the king's attention. Above the brightness of the sun - And no marvel. For what is the brightness of this created sun, to the Sun of righteousness, the brightness of the Father's glory?
act 26:14In the Hebrew tongue - St. Paul was not now speaking in Hebrew: when he was, Act 23:7, he did not add, In the Hebrew tongue. Christ used this tongue both on earth and from heaven.
act 26:17Delivering thee from the people - The Jews and the Gentiles, to whom, both Jews and Gentiles, I now send thee - Paul gives them to know, that the liberty he enjoys even in bonds, was promised to him, as well as his preaching to the Gentiles. I, denotes the authority of the sender. Now, the time whence his mission was dated. For his apostleship, as well as his conversion, commenced at this moment.
act 26:18To open - He opens them, who sends Paul; and he does it by Paul who is sent; their eyes - Both of the Jews and Gentiles: that they may turn - Through the power of the Almighty, from the spiritual darkness wherein they were involved, to the light of Divine knowledge and holiness, and from the power of Satan, who now holds them in sin, guilt, and misery, to the love and happy service of God: that they may receive through faith - (He seems to place the same blessings in a fuller light,) pardon, holiness, and glory.
act 26:19From that time - Having received power to obey, I was not disobedient - I did obey, I used that power, Gal 1:16. So that even this grace whereby St Paul was influenced was not irresistible.
act 26:20I declared - From that hour to this, both to Jew and Gentile, that they should repent - This repentance, we may observe, is previous both to inward and outward holiness.
act 26:21For these things - The apostle now applies all that he had said.
act 26:22Having obtained help from God - When all other help failed, God sent the Romans from the castle, and so fulfilled the promise he had made, Act 26:17.
act 26:24Festus said, Paul, thou art beside thyself - To talk of men's rising from the dead! And of a Jew's enlightening not only his own nation, but tho polite and learned Greeks and Romans! Nay, Festus, it is thou that art beside thyself. That strikest quite wide of the mark. And no wonder: he saw that nature did not act in Paul; but the grace that acted in him he did not see. And therefore he took all this ardour which animated the apostle for a mere start of learned phrensy.
act 26:25I am not mad, most excellent Festus - The style properly belonging to a Roman propretor. How inexpressibly beautiful is this reply! How strong! yet how decent and respectful! Mad men seldom call men by their names, and titles of honour. Thus also St. Paul refutes the charge. But utter the words of truth (confirmed in the next verse) and sobriety - The very reverse of madness. And both these remain, even when the men of God act with the utmost vehemence.
act 26:26For the king knoweth of these things - St. Paul having refuted Festus, pursues his purpose, returning naturally, and as it were, step by step, from Festus to Agrippa. To whom I speak with freedom - This freedom was probably one circumstance which Festus accounted madness.
act 26:27King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? - He that believes these, believes Paul, yea, and Christ. The apostle now comes close to his heart. What did Agrippa feel when he heard this? I know that thou believest! - Here Paul lays so fast hold on the king that he can scarce make any resistance.
act 26:28Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian! - See here, Festus altogether a heathen, Paul alogether a Christian, Agrippa halting between both. Poor Agrippa! But almost persuaded! So near the mark, and yet fall short! Another step, and thou art within the vail. Reader, stop not with Agrippa; but go on with Paul.
act 26:29I would to God - Agrippa had spoke of being a Christian, as a thing wholly in his own power. Paul gently corrects this mistake; intimating, it is the gift and the work of God; that all that hear me - It was modesty in St. Paul, not to apply directly to them all; yet he looks upon them and observes them; were such as I am - Christians indeed; full of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. He speaks from a full sense of his own happiness, and an overflowing love to all.
act 26:30And as he said this, the king rose up - An unspeakably precious moment to Agrippa. Whether he duly improved it or no, we shall see in that day.
act 26:31This man doth nothing worthy of death, or of bonds - They speak of his whole life, not of one action only. And could ye learn nothing more than this from that discourse? A favourable judgment of such a preacher, is not all that God requires.