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Paul Offers His Defense

26 So Agrippa[a] said to Paul, “You have permission[b] to speak for yourself.” Then Paul held out his hand[c] and began his defense:[d]

“Regarding all the things I have been accused of by the Jews, King Agrippa,[e] I consider myself fortunate that I am about to make my defense before you today, because you are especially[f] familiar with all the customs and controversial issues[g] of the Jews. Therefore I ask[h] you to listen to me patiently. Now all the Jews know the way I lived[i] from my youth, spending my life from the beginning among my own people[j] and in Jerusalem. They know,[k] because they have known[l] me from time past,[m] if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party[n] of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.[o] And now I stand here on trial[p] because of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors,[q] a promise[r] that our twelve tribes hope to attain as they earnestly serve God[s] night and day. Concerning this hope the Jews are accusing me,[t] Your Majesty![u] Why do you people[v] think[w] it is unbelievable[x] that[y] God raises the dead? Of course,[z] I myself was convinced[aa] that it was necessary to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus the Nazarene. 10 And that is what I did in Jerusalem: Not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons by the authority I received[ab] from the chief priests, but I also cast my vote[ac] against them when they were sentenced to death.[ad] 11 I punished[ae] them often in all the synagogues[af] and tried to force[ag] them to blaspheme. Because I was so furiously enraged[ah] at them, I went to persecute[ai] them even in foreign cities.

12 “While doing this very thing,[aj] as I was going[ak] to Damascus with authority and complete power[al] from the chief priests, 13 about noon along the road, Your Majesty,[am] I saw a light from heaven,[an] brighter than the sun, shining everywhere around[ao] me and those traveling with me. 14 When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic,[ap] ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? You are hurting yourself[aq] by kicking against the goads.’[ar] 15 So I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord replied,[as] ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But get up and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this reason, to designate you in advance[at] as a servant and witness[au] to the things[av] you have seen[aw] and to the things in which I will appear to you. 17 I will rescue[ax] you from your own people[ay] and from the Gentiles, to whom[az] I am sending you 18 to open their eyes so that they turn[ba] from darkness to light and from the power[bb] of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share[bc] among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

19 “Therefore, King Agrippa,[bd] I was not disobedient[be] to the heavenly[bf] vision, 20 but I declared to those in Damascus first, and then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea,[bg] and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God,[bh] performing deeds consistent with[bi] repentance. 21 For this reason the Jews, after they seized me while I was in the temple courts,[bj] were trying to kill me. 22 I have experienced[bk] help from God to this day, and so I stand testifying to both small and great, saying nothing except[bl] what the prophets and Moses said[bm] was going to happen: 23 that[bn] the Christ[bo] was to suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, to proclaim light both to our people[bp] and to the Gentiles.”[bq]

24 As Paul[br] was saying these things in his defense, Festus[bs] exclaimed loudly, “You have lost your mind,[bt] Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane!” 25 But Paul replied,[bu] “I have not lost my mind, most excellent Festus,[bv] but am speaking[bw] true and rational[bx] words. 26 For the king knows about these things, and I am speaking freely[by] to him,[bz] because I cannot believe[ca] that any of these things has escaped his notice,[cb] for this was not done in a corner.[cc] 27 Do you believe the prophets,[cd] King Agrippa?[ce] I know that you believe.” 28 Agrippa[cf] said to Paul, “In such a short time are you persuading me to become a Christian?”[cg] 29 Paul replied, “I pray to God that whether in a short or a long time[ch] not only you but also all those who are listening to me today could become such as I am, except for these chains.”[ci]

30 So the king got up, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them, 31 and as they were leaving they said to one another,[cj] “This man is not doing anything deserving[ck] death or imprisonment.” 32 Agrippa[cl] said to Festus,[cm] “This man could have been released[cn] if he had not appealed to Caesar.”[co]


  1. Acts 26:1 sn See the note on King Agrippa in 25:13.
  2. Acts 26:1 tn Grk “It is permitted for you.”
  3. Acts 26:1 tn Or “extended his hand” (a speaker’s gesture).
  4. Acts 26:1 tn Or “and began to speak in his own defense.”
  5. Acts 26:2 sn See the note on King Agrippa in 25:13.
  6. Acts 26:3 tn BDAG 613 s.v. μάλιστα 1 states, “μ. γνώστην ὄντα σε since you are outstandingly familiar Ac 26:3.”
  7. Acts 26:3 tn 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.”
  8. Acts 26:3 tn 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.”
  9. Acts 26:4 tn Grk “my manner of life.”
  10. Acts 26:4 tn Or “nation.”
  11. Acts 26:5 tn 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 (hisasi) has to be repeated to connect with the ὅτι (hoti) clause (indirect discourse) in v. 5.
  12. Acts 26:5 tn Grk “having known me from time past.” The participle προγινώσκοντες (proginōskontes) has been translated as a causal adverbial participle.
  13. Acts 26:5 tn BDAG 866 s.v. προγινώσκω 2 has “Know from time pastπρογινώσκοντές 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.”
  14. Acts 26:5 tn That is, strictest religious party. “Party” alone is used in the translation because “the strictest religious party of our religion” would be redundant.
  15. Acts 26:5 sn See the note on Pharisee in 5:34.
  16. Acts 26:6 tn BDAG 568 s.v. κρίνω 5.a.α has “κρίνεσθαι ἐπί τινι be on trial because of a thing Ac 26:6.”
  17. Acts 26:6 tn Or “forefathers”; Grk “fathers.”
  18. Acts 26:7 tn 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.
  19. Acts 26:7 tn 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.
  20. Acts 26:7 tn Grk “I am being accused by the Jews.” The passive construction was simplified by converting it to an active one in the translation.
  21. Acts 26:7 tn Grk “O King!”
  22. Acts 26:8 tn 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).
  23. Acts 26:8 tn 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.
  24. Acts 26:8 tn Or “incredible.” BDAG 103 s.v. ἄπιστος 1 states, “unbelievable, incredibleτί ἄπιστον κρίνεται παρ᾿ ὑμῖν…; why does it seem incredible to you? Ac 26:8.”
  25. Acts 26:8 tn Grk “if”; εἰ has been translated as “that” indicating indirect discourse.
  26. Acts 26:9 tn 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.”
  27. Acts 26:9 tn 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.”
  28. Acts 26:10 tn Grk “by receiving authority.” The participle λαβών (labōn) has been taken instrumentally.
  29. Acts 26:10 tn 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.”
  30. Acts 26:10 tn Grk “when they were being executed,” but the context supports the sentencing rather than the execution itself (cf. L&N 30.103).
  31. Acts 26:11 tn 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.
  32. Acts 26:11 sn See the note on synagogue in 6:9.
  33. Acts 26:11 tn 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”).
  34. Acts 26:11 tn 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 enragedπερισσῶς 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.”
  35. Acts 26:11 tn Or “I pursued them even as far as foreign cities.”
  36. Acts 26:12 tn 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.
  37. Acts 26:12 tn Grk “going.” The participle πορευόμενος (poreuomenos) has been taken temporally.
  38. Acts 26:12 tn 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.”
  39. Acts 26:13 tn Grk “O King.”
  40. Acts 26:13 tn Or “from the sky” (the same Greek word means both “heaven” and “sky”).
  41. Acts 26:13 tn The word “everywhere” has been supplied in the translation to clarify the meaning of περιλάμψαν (perilampsan). 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.
  42. Acts 26:14 tn Grk “in the Hebrew language.” See Acts 22:7 and 9:4.
  43. Acts 26:14 tn Grk “It is hard for you.”
  44. Acts 26:14 tn “Goads” are pointed sticks used to direct a draft animal (an idiom for stubborn resistance). See BDAG 539-40 s.v. κέντρον 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.
  45. Acts 26:15 tn Grk “said.”
  46. Acts 26:16 tn L&N 30.89 has “‘to choose in advance, to select beforehand, to designate in advance.’”
  47. Acts 26:16 sn 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.
  48. Acts 26:16 tn 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.”
  49. Acts 26:16 tc ‡ 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 sy sa; it is lacking in P74 א A C2 E Ψ 096 M latt bo. The external evidence is relatively evenly divided, though there is a slight preference for the omission. NA28 includes the word in brackets, indicating some doubt as to its authenticity.
  50. Acts 26:17 tn 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.
  51. Acts 26:17 tn That is, from the Jewish people. Grk “the people”; the words “your own” have been supplied to clarify the meaning.
  52. Acts 26:17 tn The antecedent of the relative pronoun is probably both the Jews (“your own people”) and the Gentiles, indicating the comprehensive commission Paul received.
  53. Acts 26:18 sn 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.
  54. Acts 26:18 tn 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)
  55. Acts 26:18 tn Or “and an inheritance.”
  56. Acts 26:19 sn See the note on King Agrippa in 25:13.
  57. Acts 26:19 sn 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.
  58. Acts 26:19 tn 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.’”
  59. Acts 26:20 tn BDAG 1093-94 s.v. χώρα 2.b states, “of the provincial name (1 Macc 8:3) ἡ χώρα τῆς ᾿Ιουδαίας Ac 26:20.”
  60. Acts 26:20 sn That they should repent and turn to God. This is the shortest summary of Paul’s message that he preached.
  61. Acts 26:20 tn BDAG 93 s.v. ἄξιος 1.b, “καρποὶ ἄ. τῆς μετανοίας fruits in keeping with your repentanceLk 3:8; Mt 3:8. For this . τῆς μετανοίας ἔργα Ac 26:20.” Note how Paul preached the gospel offer and the issue of response together, side by side.
  62. Acts 26:21 tn Grk “in the temple.” This is actually a reference to the courts surrounding the temple proper, and has been translated accordingly.
  63. Acts 26:22 tn Grk “So experiencing…I stand.” The participle τυχών (tuchōn) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.
  64. Acts 26:22 tn 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.”
  65. Acts 26:22 sn What the prophets and Moses said. Paul argued that his message reflected the hope of the Jewish scriptures.
  66. Acts 26:23 tn 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) μαρτυρόμενοςεἰ παθητὸς ὁ Χριστός testifyingthat the Christ was to sufferAc 26:23.”
  67. Acts 26:23 tn Or “the Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”sn See the note on Christ in 2:31.
  68. Acts 26:23 tn That is, to the Jewish people. Grk “the people”; the word “our” has been supplied to clarify the meaning.
  69. Acts 26:23 sn 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.
  70. Acts 26:24 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Paul) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  71. Acts 26:24 sn See the note on Porcius Festus in 24:27.
  72. Acts 26:24 tn 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.”sn 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.
  73. Acts 26:25 tn Grk “said.”
  74. Acts 26:25 sn See the note on Porcius Festus in 24:27.
  75. Acts 26:25 tn Or “declaring.” BDAG 125 s.v. ἀποφθέγγομαι states, “speak out, declare boldly or loudly…τὶ: σωφροσύνης ῥήματα Ac 26:25.”
  76. Acts 26:25 tn BDAG 987 s.v. σωφροσύνη 1 has “gener. soundness of mind, reasonableness, rationalityἀληθείας καὶ σωφροσύνης ῥήματα true and rational words (opp. μαίνομαι) Ac 26:25.”
  77. Acts 26:26 tn 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.
  78. Acts 26:26 tn Grk “to whom I am speaking freely.” The relative pronoun (“whom”) was replaced by the personal pronoun (“him”) to simplify the translation.
  79. Acts 26:26 tn 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).
  80. Acts 26:26 tn 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.”
  81. Acts 26:26 tn 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.
  82. Acts 26:27 sn “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.
  83. Acts 26:27 sn See the note on King Agrippa in 25:13.
  84. Acts 26:28 sn See the note on King Agrippa in 25:13.
  85. Acts 26:28 tn 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 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 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.
  86. Acts 26:29 tn 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).”
  87. Acts 26:29 sn 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.”
  88. Acts 26:31 tn Grk “they spoke to one another saying.” The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant in English and has not been translated.
  89. Acts 26:31 tn BDAG 93 s.v. ἄξιος 1.b has “θανάτου ἢ δεσμῶν ἄ. nothing deserving death or imprisonment 23:29; 26:31.”sn 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.
  90. Acts 26:32 sn See the note on King Agrippa in 25:13.
  91. Acts 26:32 sn See the note on Porcius Festus in 24:27.
  92. Acts 26:32 tn Or “set free.”
  93. Acts 26:32 tn Or “to the emperor” (“Caesar” is a title for the Roman emperor).sn 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.