Acts of Apostles 26:1-32

26  A·gripʹpa+ said to Paul: “You are permitted to speak in your own behalf.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and proceeded to say in his defense:  “Concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews,+ King A·gripʹpa, I consider myself happy that it is before you I am to make my defense this day,  especially because you are an expert on all the customs as well as the controversies among the Jews. Therefore, I beg you to hear me patiently.  “Indeed, the manner of life I led from youth up among my people* and in Jerusalem is well-known by all the Jews+  who were previously acquainted with me, if they would be willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our form of worship,+ I lived as a Pharisee.+  But now for the hope of the promise that was made by God to our forefathers,+ I stand on trial;  this is the same promise our 12 tribes are hoping to see fulfilled by intensely rendering him sacred service night and day. Concerning this hope I am accused by Jews,+ O King.  “Why is it considered* unbelievable among you that God raises up the dead?  I, for one, was convinced that I should commit many acts of opposition against the name of Jesus the Naz·a·reneʹ. 10  This is exactly what I did in Jerusalem, and I locked up many of the holy ones in prisons,+ for I had received authority from the chief priests;+ and when they were to be executed, I cast my vote against them. 11  By punishing them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to recant; and since I was extremely furious with them, I went so far as to persecute them even in outlying cities. 12  “While doing this as I was traveling to Damascus with authority and a commission from the chief priests, 13  I saw at midday on the road, O King, a light beyond the brilliance of the sun flash from heaven around me and around those traveling with me.+ 14  And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice say to me in the Hebrew language: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? To keep kicking against the goads makes it hard for you.’ 15  But I said: ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said: ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16  But rise and stand on your feet. This is why I have appeared to you, to choose you as a servant and a witness both of things you have seen and things I will make you see respecting me.+ 17  And I will rescue you from this people and from the nations, to whom I am sending you+ 18  to open their eyes,+ to turn them from darkness+ to light+ and from the authority of Satan+ to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins+ and an inheritance among those sanctified by their faith in me.’ 19  “Therefore, King A·gripʹpa, I did not become disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20  but to those in Damascus+ first and then to those in Jerusalem,+ and over all the country of Ju·deʹa, and also to the nations, I was bringing the message that they should repent and turn to God by doing works that befit repentance.+ 21  This is why the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.+ 22  However, because I have experienced the help that is from God, I continue to this day bearing witness to both small and great, saying nothing except what the Prophets as well as Moses stated was going to take place+ 23  that the Christ was to suffer+ and that as the first to be resurrected* from the dead,+ he was going to proclaim light both to this people and to the nations.”+ 24  Now as Paul was saying these things in his defense, Festus said in a loud voice: “You are going out of your mind, Paul! Great learning is driving you out of your mind!” 25  But Paul said: “I am not going out of my mind, Your Excellency Festus, but I am speaking words of truth and of a sound mind. 26  For a fact, the king to whom I am speaking so freely well knows about these things; I am convinced that not one of these things escapes his notice, for none of this has been done in a corner.+ 27  Do you, King A·gripʹpa, believe the Prophets? I know that you believe.” 28  But A·gripʹpa said to Paul: “In a short time you would persuade me to become a Christian.” 29  At this Paul said: “I wish to God that whether in a short time or in a long time, not only you but also all those who hear me today would become men such as I am, with the exception of these prison bonds.” 30  Then the king rose and so did the governor and Bernice and the men seated with them. 31  But as they were leaving, they began saying to one another: “This man is doing nothing deserving of death or prison bonds.”+ 32  A·gripʹpa then said to Festus: “This man could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar.”+


Or “my nation.”
Lit., “judged.”
Lit., “first out of resurrection.”

Study Notes

sect: The Greek word here rendered “sect,” haiʹre·sis (from which the English word “heresy” is derived), apparently had the original meaning “a choice.” That is how the word is used at Le 22:18 in the Septuagint, which speaks about Israelites offering gifts “according to all their choice.” As used in the Christian Greek Scriptures, this term refers to a group of people holding to distinctive views or doctrines. It is used to describe the two prominent branches of Judaism​—the Pharisees and the Sadducees. (Ac 5:17; 15:5; 26:5) Non-Christians called Christianity “a sect” or “the sect of the Nazarenes,” possibly viewing it as a breakaway group from Judaism. (Ac 24:5, 14; 28:22) The Greek word haiʹre·sis was also applied to groups that developed within the Christian congregation. Jesus emphasized and prayed that unity would prevail among his followers (Joh 17:21), and the apostles sought to preserve the oneness of the Christian congregation (1Co 1:10; Jude 17-19). If the members of the congregation separated into groups or factions, this would disrupt the unity. Therefore, in describing such groups, the Greek word haiʹre·sis came to be used in the negative sense of a faction or a divisive group, a sect. Disunity in belief could give rise to fierce disputing, dissension, and even enmity. (Compare Ac 23:7-10.) So sects were to be avoided and were considered a manifestation of “the works of the flesh.”​—Ga 5:19-21; 1Co 11:19; 2Pe 2:1.

sect of our form of worship: Or “sect of our religion.”​—See study note on Ac 24:5.

rendering him sacred service: The Greek verb la·treuʹo basically denotes serving. As used in the Scriptures, it usually refers to rendering service to God or in connection with the worship of him (Mt 4:10; Lu 2:37; 4:8; Ac 7:7; Ro 1:9; Php 3:3; 2Ti 1:3; Heb 9:14; 12:28; Re 7:15; 22:3), including service at the sanctuary or temple (Heb 8:5; 9:9; 10:2; 13:10). Thus, in some contexts the expression can also be rendered “to worship.” In a few cases, it is used in connection with false worship​—rendering service to, or worshipping, created things. (Ac 7:42; Ro 1:25) Some translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew (referred to as J14-17 in App. C4) read “serving (worshipping) Jehovah.”

the Nazarene: A descriptive epithet applied to Jesus and later to his followers. (Ac 24:5) Since many Jews had the name Jesus, it was common to add a further identification; the practice of associating people with the places from which they came was customary in Bible times. (2Sa 3:2, 3; 17:27; 23:25-39; Na 1:1; Ac 13:1; 21:29) Jesus lived most of his early life in the town of Nazareth in Galilee, so it was natural to use this term regarding him. Jesus was often referred to as “the Nazarene,” in different situations and by various individuals. (Mr 1:23, 24; 10:46, 47; 14:66-69; 16:5, 6; Lu 24:13-19; Joh 18:1-7) Jesus himself accepted the name and used it. (Joh 18:5-8; Ac 22:6-8) On the sign that Pilate placed on the torture stake, he wrote in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek: “Jesus the Nazarene the King of the Jews.” (Joh 19:19, 20) From Pentecost 33 C.E. onward, the apostles as well as others often spoke of Jesus as the Nazarene or as being from Nazareth.​—Ac 2:22; 3:6; 4:10; 6:14; 10:38; 26:9; see also study note on Mt 2:23.

the Nazarene: See study note on Mr 10:47.

cast my vote: Lit., “cast down a pebble,” that is, a pebble used in voting. The Greek word pseʹphos refers to a small stone and is rendered “pebble” at Re 2:17. Pebbles were used in courts of justice in rendering judgment or voicing an opinion of either innocence or guilt. White pebbles were used for pronouncing innocence, acquittal; black ones for pronouncing guilt, condemnation.

in the Hebrew language: See study note on Joh 5:2.

kicking against the goads: A goad is a pointed rod used to urge on an animal. (Jg 3:31) The expression “to kick against the goads” is a proverb found in Greek literature. It is based on the image of a stubborn bull that resists the prodding of the goad by kicking against it, resulting in injury to the animal. Saul behaved in a similar manner before becoming a Christian. By fighting against Jesus’ followers, who had the backing of Jehovah God, Paul risked causing serious injury to himself. (Compare Ac 5:38, 39; 1Ti 1:13, 14.) At Ec 12:11, “oxgoads” are mentioned in a figurative sense, referring to a wise person’s words that move a listener to follow counsel.

Hebrew: In the Christian Greek Scriptures, inspired Bible writers used the term “Hebrew” in designating the language spoken by the Jews (Joh 19:13, 17, 20; Ac 21:40; 22:2; Re 9:11; 16:16), as well as the language in which the resurrected and glorified Jesus addressed Saul of Tarsus (Ac 26:14, 15). At Ac 6:1, “Hebrew-speaking Jews” are distinguished from “Greek-speaking Jews.” While some scholars hold that the term “Hebrew” in these references should instead be rendered “Aramaic,” there is good reason to believe that the term actually applies to the Hebrew language. When the physician Luke says that Paul spoke to the people of Jerusalem “in the Hebrew language,” Paul was addressing those whose life revolved around studying the Law of Moses in Hebrew. Also, of the great number of fragments and manuscripts comprising the Dead Sea Scrolls, the majority of Biblical and non-Biblical texts are written in Hebrew, showing that the language was in daily use. The smaller number of Aramaic fragments found shows that both languages were used. So it seems highly unlikely that when Bible writers used the word “Hebrew,” they actually meant the Aramaic or Syrian language. (Ac 21:40; 22:2; compare Ac 26:14.) The Hebrew Scriptures earlier distinguished between “Aramaic” and “the language of the Jews” (2Ki 18:26), and first-century Jewish historian Josephus, considering this passage of the Bible, speaks of “Aramaic” and “Hebrew” as distinct tongues. (Jewish Antiquities, X, 8 [i, 2]) It is true that there are some terms that are quite similar in both Aramaic and Hebrew and possibly other terms that were adopted into Hebrew from Aramaic. However, there seems to be no reason for the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures to have said Hebrew if they meant Aramaic.

fruits that befit repentance: The plural form of the Greek word for “fruit; fruitage” (kar·posʹ) is here used figuratively to refer to evidence and actions that would indicate a change of mind or attitude on the part of those listening to John.​—Mt 3:8; Ac 26:20; see study notes on Mt 3:2, 11 and Glossary, “Repentance.”

Repent: The Greek word used here could literally be rendered “to change one’s mind,” signifying a change in thinking, attitude, or purpose. In this context, “repent” refers to a person’s relationship with God.​—See study notes on Mt 3:8, 11 and Glossary, “Repentance.”

repent: The Greek word used here could literally be rendered “to change one’s mind,” signifying a change in thinking, attitude, or purpose. In this context, the admonition to “repent” is connected with the expression and turn to God and is therefore referring to a person’s relationship with God. For a person to be genuinely repentant, he must do works that befit repentance. In other words, his actions would give evidence that a real change of mind or attitude had taken place.​—See study notes on Mt 3:2, 8; Lu 3:8 and Glossary, “Repentance.”

fruit that befits repentance: Refers to evidence and actions that would indicate a change of mind or attitude on the part of those listening to John.​—Lu 3:8; Ac 26:20; see study notes on Mt 3:2, 11 and Glossary, “Repentance.”

a Christian: See study note on Ac 11:26.

Christians: The Greek term Khri·sti·a·nosʹ, meaning “follower of Christ,” is found only three times in the Christian Greek Scriptures. (Ac 11:26; 26:28; 1Pe 4:16) It is derived from Khri·stosʹ, meaning Christ, or Anointed One. Christians follow both the example and the teachings of Jesus, “the Christ,” or the one anointed by Jehovah. (Lu 2:26; 4:18) The designation “Christians” was given “by divine providence” possibly as early as the year 44 C.E. when the events mentioned in this text occurred. The name apparently gained widespread acceptance, so that when Paul appeared before King Herod Agrippa II, about 58 C.E., Agrippa knew who the Christians were. (Ac 26:28) The historian Tacitus indicates that by about the year 64 C.E., the term “Christian” was in use among the general population in Rome. In addition, sometime between 62 and 64 C.E., Peter wrote his first letter to Christians scattered throughout the Roman Empire. By then, the name Christian seems to have been widespread, distinctive, and specific. (1Pe 1:1, 2; 4:16) With this divinely provided name, Jesus’ disciples could no longer be mistaken for a sect of Judaism.

Caesar: Or “the Emperor.” The Roman emperor during Jesus’ earthly ministry was Tiberius, but the term was not restricted to the ruling emperor. “Caesar” could refer to the Roman civil authority, or the State, and its duly appointed representatives, who are called “the superior authorities” by Paul, and “the king” and his “governors” by Peter.​—Ro 13:1-7; 1Pe 2:13-17; Tit 3:1; see Glossary.

Caesar: Or “the Emperor.” The Roman emperor at this time was Claudius, who ruled from 41 to 54 C.E.​—Ac 11:28; 18:2; see study note on Mt 22:17 and Glossary.

Caesar: Or “the Emperor.” The Roman emperor at this time was Nero, who ruled from 54 to 68 C.E. when he committed suicide at about the age of 31. All references to Caesar in Acts chapters 25 through 28 apply to Nero.​—See study notes on Mt 22:17; Ac 17:7 and Glossary.