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Book of Acts Chapter 26 - Christogenea Internet Radio 01-10-2014
Discussing Acts chapter 25, we saw that upon the assumption to the office of procurator in Judaea by Porcius Festus, he reviewed the case of Paul of Tarsus whom Felix had left bound. Festus then admitted that Paul had done nothing worthy of death or bonds, but would not release him since he did not want to show the Judaeans any disfavor. Paul was therefore compelled to appeal to Caesar, since Festus only offered him a trial in Jerusalem which Paul, being a Roman citizen, could not be compelled to accept. Ostensibly, Paul was destined to go to Rome, as we had been informed by the account in Acts. But if Paul had submitted to the Judaeans then by no means would he have escaped with his life, since the Judaeans were desiring to kill him unlawfully if they could not have their way with him otherwise.
When Herod Agrippa II arrived in Caesareia, evidently to see the new procurator, Festus told Agrippa of Paul, and Agrippa is portrayed as having exclaimed that he had been wanting to hear Paul speak. Certainly, accounts of the episodes related to Paul's arrest and of his defenses before the Hebrews and before Felix must have been heard by Agrippa in Jerusalem. With Agrippa wanting to hear Paul, and with Festus being in need of an account of the charges against Paul so that he could write to Nero explaining why Paul had been sent to him, Paul is therefore given an opportunity to address not only Agrippa, but “the commanders and eminent men of the city”. Since Caesareia was a large city there must have been a considerable crowd present in addition to those whom Luke mentioned specifically. Further evidence of this is seen in Acts 25:23, where Luke says that Agrippa, who being the king of a neighboring country is actually a visiting dignitary, along with his sister (or perhaps his sister-wife) Bernika, had entered into the auditorium “with much fanfare”, as Luke described the event.
This auditorium, or literally place of hearing as the King James Version has it, where this spectacle was conducted was most likely the local theater, or stadium, buildings which were quite common throughout the Roman empire. When Paul was charged by the silversmiths at Ephesus, those of his company were brought to the local theater (the Greek word being θέατρον), where the people were accustomed to assemble for such events. There is such a theater at Caesareia which remains today, an archaeological relic believed to be the very theater that was built by the first Herod before 10 BC, which seated as many as 4,000 people. It is assuredly the very auditorium where this event had taken place.
From the end of Acts chapter 25, after all parties are assembled to witness Paul's defense: “24 And Phestos said: 'King Agrippas, and all those men who are here with us, see him concerning whom all the multitude of the Judaeans entreated me both in Jerusalem and here, crying out that it is no longer fitting for him to live! 25 But I comprehended him to have done nothing worthy of death, yet he himself having appealed to Sebastos, I have decided to send him. 26 Concerning which I do not have anything certain to write with authority, on which account I have brought him before you, and especially before you, King Agrippas, that upon there being an examination, I would have something that I may write . 27 For it seems to me irrational, sending a prisoner and not indicating the charges against him.'”
Considering Festus' statement at verse 24 of that chapter, it is evident that the only way to preserve Paul beyond this point, would be to send him in bonds to Rome. With this, Luke records Paul's discourse at the opening of chapter 26:
XXVI 1 And Agrippas said to Paul: “It is permitted for you to speak concerning yourself.” Then Paul extending the hand spoke in reply: 2 “Concerning all things of which I am charged by the Judaeans, King Agrippas, I regard myself blessed for being about to speak in defense before you today, 3 especially since [A and C interpolate “knowing that”; the text follows א, B, E, and the MT, however the word since is inferred] you are one that knows of all of the customs and disputes among the Judaeans, on which account I beg [C and the MT interpolate “for you”; the text follows א, A, B, and E] to hear me patiently.
The same verb, ἀπολογέομαι (626) is to speak in reply at the end of verse 1, and to speak in defense near the end of verse 2. The related noun, ἀπολογία (627), is the root of our English apology, which is properly a speech in defense of something.
While Festus represents the sovereign authority of Rome, in his opening address he explained why he acceded to Agrippa in this matter. While Agrippa has no real authority in Judaea outside of the temple administration, he still commands the respect of a king, whether one should respect an Edomite or not, since he was made a king by the emperor. Paul therefore addresses Agrippa throughout his discourse, as he is obliged to do so according to protocol. However that does not mean that Paul really imagines Agrippa to be a prospective convert to Christ. Rather, as we pointed out while presenting Acts chapter 25, it was Paul's philosophy to preach the gospel of Christ whether He was loved or hated, and in that manner all men would be found speaking of Christ, even His enemies. From that philosophy, which he himself explains in the opening chapter of his epistle to the Philippians, Paul therefore must have seen this occasion as an opportunity to preach the Gospel of Christ before a multitude of people, in spite of Herod and all of the Edomites who were among the Judaeans, and not on account of them.
4 Now indeed my manner of living from youth which had from the first been among my nation and in Jerusalem all the Judaeans know, 5 knowing me from the beginning, if they would wish to testify, that according to the most precise sect of our worship I have lived a Pharisee.
Paul having been educated in the school of such a prominent teacher of the law as Gamaliel, as we see him profess in Acts chapter 22, there must have been contemporaries of his here among the leaders of the Judaeans who knew him from his school days, and then as a young man.
6 And now for the hope of the promise having been made by God to our [the MT has only “the”] fathers I stand being judged, 7 for which our twelve tribes serving in earnest night and day hope to attain, concerning which hope I am charged by the Judaeans, King: [A wants “King”, the MT adds “Agrippa”]
Here, at least 27 years after the Passion of the Christ, and well over 15 years after the vision of Peter, Paul makes a definite statement against universalism as we know it, by telling us explicitly that the promises for which he ministered belong to the Israelite patriarchs and the twelve tribes of Israel. It is ironic, that with such words he addresses a man who is actually an Edomite. It is ridiculous, to think that a so-called “church” consisting of non-Israelites could replace Israel, and then be reckoned by tribes. The reference to twelve tribes can only be a reference to the genetic people of Israel. The Book of Acts, as we have often pointed out in this series of presentations, is a record of a religious transition. It records a transition from the rituals of Moses to the Faith in Christ, and from the dispensation of the Levitical priesthood to the reconciliation of dispersed Israel. However as for these assertions concerning the promises “to our fathers” and the hope of “our twelve tribes”, it is evident that the one area where there was absolutely no transition is that the covenants and promises remain exclusively for the genetic children of Israel. The dispersed Israelites were uncircumcised pagans, and that is the reason why Peter had his vision, so that he would know to bring the gospel to such people. The Romans too, had sprung from Israel, as Paul demonstrates in his epistle to them, and Cornelius, the first converted so-called “gentile”, was one of them.
It is absolutely amazing, that the Roman Catholic Church and all of those supposedly reforming organizations which followed after it, have ignored the recorded transition away from a reliance upon rituals, contrary to Scripture, while at the same time insisting upon a substitution of (or a transition away from) the people of God, which is also contrary to Scripture. Everything they have done is wrong. In the end, however, the ignorance of men will magnify the glory of Yahweh.
Where it is common knowledge that only a small portion of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi ever returned to Palestine, yet the words “hope” and “serving” are in the present tense where Paul says “for which our twelve tribes serving in earnest night and day hope to attain”. Yet practitioners of Judaism are scarcely to be found outside of both the general Judaean population and the Hellenistic diaspora of the Judaeans, who are all well-recorded by the ancient historians. Yet James also addressed his epistle to the “twelve tribes scattered abroad”, none of whom were identified by their ancient national or tribal names at that time, and the apostle John in his gospel informed us that one purpose of the Christ was to “gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad”, the same Christ who came only “unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” The language here in Acts is a certain confirmation that the so-called “gentiles”, or properly the nations to whom Paul brought the gospel and the so-called “lost” tribes of Israel were one and the same.
For example, in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, after informing the Corinthians that their ancestors had been with Moses in the Exodus, Paul tells then to “18 Behold Israel down through the flesh: are not those who are eating the sacrifices partners of the altar? 19 What then do I say? That that which is sacrificed to an idol is anything? Or that an idol is anything? 20 Rather, that whatever the Nations sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to Yahweh. Now I do not wish for you to be partners with demons.” Once more, the language here is a certain confirmation that the “nations” to whom Paul brought the gospel and the so-called “lost” tribes of Israel were one and the same. They were not practising Hebraism, or especially the corruption which became known as Judaism, because they were pagans. As we have seen here in Acts, Paul addressed other nations of the Greek world which did not descend from the Israelites, namely the Lycaonians and the Ionians, in a manner befitting nations under the promises to Adam and Noah, but who did not have Christ. On the other hand, throughout his epistles he displayed an understanding of which of the nations of the Greek world did descend from scattered Israel. The Ionians and Lydians and Phrygians were not Israel, the Romans and Dorians and Galatians and Scythians were Israel, and the evidences of these things are found in the Prophets and the Classics.
There is a prophecy in reference to this in Deuteronomy chapter 28, a warning of the result of Israel's disobedience: “64 And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.” The fulfillment of this prophecy is evident throughout the books of the prophets, and it is a story which was explicitly recorded in Amos, Hosea, and Isaiah, and later in Ezekiel and Jeremiah, as well as other prophets where it is not so explicit. In Ezekiel chapter 20 the Word of Yahweh says: “ 23 I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the nations, and disperse them through the countries; 24 Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers' idols.” Daniel also prophesied of this, in chapter 12 of his book: “7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” These things happened in the 8th through the 6th centuries BC, and have nothing to do with any so-called “Jews”.
However those same prophets who forebode the scattering of Israel also prophesied of the future gathering of Israel. For instance, in Jeremiah 31, the very same place where we find the promise of the New Covenant, we see this: “10 Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. 11 For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.” The people of the “isles afar off” must have been scattered Israelites, and it was them, “our twelve tribes” to whom Paul brought the Gospel, as Jeremiah prophesied and as Paul announces here!
In the scattering of Israel, we have the fulfillment of many other promises. Promises and blessings made to each of the twelve tribes of Israel, which can all be summarized in Yahweh's promises to Jacob, which are seen in Genesis chapter 35: “10 And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel. 11 And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; 12 And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.”
Likewise, Yahshua told His enemies, in Luke chapter 13: “ 28 There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. 29 And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.”
In Genesis chapter 15, we see a childless Abraham propose to Yahweh a substitute heir, and God rejected him, where it says “1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. 2 And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? 3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. 4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
Abraham believed Yahweh, that his heir would come from his own loins. Abraham also believed Yahweh when he was told that his seed would be as numerous as the stars. Of course, that seed would also have to come from his loins, as Jacob, his grandson and a heir to these promises was later told by Yahweh that “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins” (Genesis 35:11). Yet the denominational churches of today do not believe what Abraham believed, and they fill their pews, their coffers, and their bellies with substitutes, something that Abraham was told would not happen! Paul taught that the Nations to which he brought the gospel were the fulfillment of that very promise to Abraham, in Romans chapter 4: “16 Therefore from of the faith, that in accordance with favor, then the promise is to be certain to all of the offspring, not to that of the law only [meaning the remnant of Israelites among the Judaeans who kept the law], but also to that of the faith of Abraham [meaning those who descended from his loins, those whom Abraham believed would be descended from him as Yahweh God had promised], who is father of us all; 17 (just as it is written, 'That a father of many nations I have made you,') before Yahweh whom he trusted, who raises the dead to life, and calls things not existing as existing; 18 who contrary to expectation, in expectation believed, for which he would become a father of many nations according to the declaration, 'Thus your offspring will be:'”
Those of the faith of Abraham are those whom, as God had promised, Abraham believed would come from his loins. They are the genetic children of Israel. If you are not one of these, then you cannot be one of “those of the faith of Abraham”, because wherever else you may have come from, Abraham did not believe in you! The clause referring to “those of the faith of Abraham” has nothing to do with what you believe, and everything to do with what Abraham believed. God says that Abraham's seed would become many nations, and the denominational sects pervert that and teach that many nations could become Abraham's seed, but that is not what God told Abraham! Those nations descended from the twelve tribes of Israel, those are the nations to whom Paul brought the Gospel. Paul taught fulfillment theology, not replacement theology. But fulfillment theology is grounded in historical truth, and that is the basis for our Christian Identity profession: we are the only true Christianity, accepting the Gospel as it was received from the apostles!
If one wishes to be of the faith of Abraham, then one has to have been born of the result of what God promised to Abraham, which is what Abraham had faith in. Otherwise, if Abraham is not your genetic father then you cannot be of his faith because you did not result from that promise which he believed and therefore you cannot be one of his seed. These promises and the later covenants are all exclusive to Israel, and that Biblical principal certainly has not changed, which is fully evident here in the words of Paul of Tarsus, 27 years after the Resurrection of the Christ.
8 Why is it judged incredible by you, if God raises the dead?
The hope which the twelve tribes had, was in a Resurrection into a new life in the Kingdom of God. Resurrection and restoration in the Kingdom of God is the Christian hope, and while eternal life was promised to the entire Adamic race, the bearers of that promise have always been the children of Israel. From Psalm 16: “ 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. 10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Likewise, in Isaiah chapter 25: “ 8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.” In the end, according to the Revelation of Yahshua Christ Himself, Death and Hell go into the Lake of Fire. From the Wisdom of Solomon (2:23): “For God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity.”
9 Now then I myself supposed it necessary, regarding the Name of Yahshua the Nazoraian, to do many things against, 10 which even I had done in Jerusalem, and then many of the saints I had shut up in prison, receiving authority from the high priests, and upon their being slain I had cast a vote. 11 And throughout all the assembly halls many times punishing them, I compelled them to blaspheme and being exceedingly mad at them pursued them even as far as the cities outside.
The phrase τὰς ἔξω πόλεις is literally the cities outside, presumably referring to those cities outside of Judaea (for example Damaskos), where the King James Version has “strange cities” but the ASV has “foreign cities” a rendering which is not improper.
Paul recounts his persecution of the Judaean Christians in Damascus, which is recorded in part in Acts chapter 9, and recounted again in part in Acts chapter 22. Each of these accounts are concise, and none of them necessarily represents a complete description of the events being recalled. They only represent what Luke chose to record of those explanations which Paul offered at any given time. Critics of the Book of Acts should sit and reflect upon an event from their own lives from their recent past, and summarize it in five or six sentences. Putting that record away, fifteen or twenty years later they should do that same thing again, describing that same event from years ago in five or six sentences without looking at their first description. Perhaps a couple of years later they should repeat that act one more time. Then, with three brief descriptions of the same event they should make a comparison of what they wrote, and see how closely the three records agree. Once they are translated correctly, there is no conflict in any of Paul's descriptions of his persecution of Christians and his own conversion to Christianity. However we have three different recollections of the same events, recounted many years apart from one another, and then those reflections are recorded rather concisely by another party, which is Luke. It is amazing that they are found to be accurate at all, but they are indeed accurate. It is only evident that different aspects of these events stood out in Paul's memory each time he repeated them, so we see slightly different details brought to light on each occasion. We need to combine the three records in order to get a somewhat more complete picture of what had transpired.
Here we learn that while under the authority of the temple in Judaea, Christians were being arrested and given trials before being executed, where Paul says that “upon their being slain I had cast a vote” and thereby we see that their persecution and their executions were indeed conducted under a pretense of legal authority and judiciousness. Continuing with Paul's discourse:
12 Upon which things going into Damaskos with the authority and a commission of [C and ther MT have “from”] the high priests 13 I saw at midday during the journey, King, shining around me and those traveling with me a light from heaven beyond the brilliance of the sun. 14 And upon all of us falling down to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me [the MT interpolates “and saying”] in the Hebrew language: ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? It is hard for you to kick against the pricks.’
As for this saying, “It is hard for you to kick against the pricks”, this is a phrase from classical Greek literature and it is a figure of speech which may be rendered “It is hard for you to offer vain resistance”, as Herbert Weir Smyth noted in his translation of the works of Aeschylus in the Loeb Classical Library. The phrase, or phrases very much like it, are found in Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound line 325 and Agamemnon line 1624, and in Pindar’s Pythian Odes 2:94-96, and in Euripides’ Bacchae line 795 (794 in some editions). The emperor Julian, who was also a philosopher and an rhetorician, used the adage as late as the 4th century (Orations, 8.246b). Julian, called the Apostate, was the last officially pagan emperor of Rome. Reflected here and in many places elsewhere, Paul of Tarsus was certainly also a student of the Greek Classics. While the words belong to Yahshua, they were spoken in Hebrew, and Paul used an ancient Greek adage to convey the meaning. Perhaps the adage was originally Hebrew.
15 And I said ‘Who are you, master?’ And the Prince said [the MT, and the KJV, have only “He said”] ‘I am Yahshua, whom you persecute, [Uncial 048, also known as the Codex Vaticanus Graecus, has “Yahshua the Nazoraian”] 16 but you must rise and stand upon your feet. For this have I appeared to you, for you to be a chosen assistant and witness both of the things you have seen by Me and of the things I shall reveal to you, 17 taking you out from among the people and from the nations to whom I send you, [C has “dispatch”; the text follows א, A, B, E, 048, and the MT]
The Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Laudianus (E) and the Majority Text want the words for “by Me”; the text here follows the Codices Vaticanus and Ephraemi Syri (C). The clause which follows, the last part of verse 16, is most literally “and of the things for which I shall appear to you”, where the King James Version is literally accurate, but the language is rather clumsy when the entire passage is considered. Liddell & Scott explain in their definition of the verb ὁράω (in part III, the word is 3708 in Strong's Greek lexicon) that it may be used to mean to look out for or to provide and so here it is rendered reveal to, in that manner.
The verb ἐξαιρέω (1807), in the appropriate tense and with the appropriate pronoun, is rendered as “taking you out” here. It is more fully, in this context (cf. Liddell & Scott, ἐξαιρέω II.) “to take out from among others, to pick out, choose”. The phrase may have been rendered as “selecting you [for Myself]”. The word has other nuances of meaning in other contexts, however where it appears with the phrase “from among the people and from [among] the nations” its meaning is quite clear. The language employed is very explicit, and the King James Version did not fairly assess it. In the historical context, when Paul had his vision he had no immediate need to be “delivered”, but rather, Paul was chosen out from among the people by Yahweh for his particular mission.
It is also clear from this statement that Paul was not chosen from among the Judaeans, but rather Paul was chosen out of the people in general, who are the people of those same nations to whom he was sent. In other words, by this language the nations to whom Paul was sent are placed on the same footing as the nation from which Paul originated. The Israelites of Judaea therefore have no real advantage over the Israelites of the dispersion: any of them may have been chosen, but Paul happened to be a Judaean. This explicit language also reveals that Paul was not sent to just any nations, but to certain nations. Christians have an obligation to examine the words of both Paul and the prophets and to realize just who those nations are.
18 to open their eyes [E has “to open the eyes of the blind”], for which to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of the Adversary [or Satan] to God, for them to receive a remission of errors and a portion with those being sanctified by the faith which is in Me.’
Christ, during His ministry, professed that His purpose was, in part, to restore sight to the blind. He said concerning Himself, in Luke chapter 4, that “ 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
His curing of the blind, which occurred so often during His ministry, was only a type, an example illustrating His true mission. The truly blind people were the people of Israel in their dispersions and in their state of apostasy from Yahweh their God.
From Isaiah chapter 42: “ 5 Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: 6 I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Nation; 7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.”
The dispersed children of Israel had forgotten their identity as the people of God, and were imprisoned as captives in their state of apostasy from Him, sitting in darkness. This is described further on in Isaiah chapter 42: “ 12 Let them give glory unto the LORD, and declare his praise in the islands. 13 The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies. 14 I have long time holden my peace; I have been still, and refrained myself: now will I cry like a travailing woman; I will destroy and devour at once. 15 I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools. 16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them. 17 They shall be turned back, they shall be greatly ashamed, that trust in graven images, that say to the molten images, Ye are our gods. 18 Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see. 19 Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD'S servant? [Isaiah 41:8 described Israel as Yahweh's servant, and as the “seed of Abraham”: “But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.”] 20 Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not. 21 The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable. 22 But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore. 23 Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come? 24 Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? [i.e. the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities] did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law. 25 Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.”
From Isaiah chapter 43: “KJV Isaiah 43:1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. 3 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. 4 Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. 5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; 6 I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; 7 Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. 8 Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears. [The blind and the deaf are Israel.] 9 Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled: who among them can declare this, and shew us former things? let them bring forth their witnesses, that they may be justified: or let them hear, and say, It is truth. 10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen [Israel exclusively]: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. 11 I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. 12 I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, that I am God. 13 Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?”
Verse 18 of Acts 26 once again: to open their eyes, for which to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of the Adversary to God, for them to receive a remission of errors and a portion with those being sanctified by the faith which is in Me.’
The phrase “those being sanctified” may well have been rendered “with those sanctifying themselves”, since the verb is in the Medium Voice, where properly the doer of the action and the recipient of the action are one and the same (MacDonald, Greek Enchiridion, p. 5). Christians prepare themselves for sanctification when they accept Yahshua Christ and agree to His Gospel, and then He cleanses them of their sins. Therefore Paul wrote, quoting Isaiah, in 2 Corinthians chapter 6: “Come out from the midst of them and be separated … do not be joined to the impure, and I will admit you.”
From Isaiah chapter 29: “ 22 Therefore thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. 23 But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. 24 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.”
From Jeremiah chapter 33: “ 6 Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth. 7 And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first. 8 And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.”
Only the children of Israel were promised the sanctification and the cleansing of sin which is mentioned here by Paul, as he also wrote to the Galatians, in chapter 4 of that epistle “4 And when the fulfillment of the time had come, Yahweh had dispatched His Son, having been born of a woman, having been subject to law, 5 in order that he would redeem those subject to law, that we would recover the position of sons.” Only these people can properly be Christians. Once again, Paul is teaching fulfillment theology. The denominational churches teach replacement theology, which is contrary to the theology of the God of the Bible, and they certainly did not get the idea from Paul. Israel is not a “church”, but according to Paul here in Acts chapter 26, Israel remains those twelve tribes which had descended from the fathers. The called, who are properly the “church”, an idea explicitly limited to them.
19 Wherefore, King Agrippas, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but to both those in Damaskos first, then to those in Jerusalem, then all the region of Judaea and to the Nations I announced to repent and to turn to God doing deeds worthy of repentance.
As we have it recorded by Luke, Paul quantified his arguments in a manner which made it difficult to actually accuse him of anything. Making no threats to the established earthly government of the Romans, he spoke in ways that were open to the interpretation of his listeners. Where he described the kingdom of God one may envision that as being ethereal in substance rather than material. Along with a posthumous resurrection of man and the need to repent from sin on account of that resurrection. While his arguments are not a complete survey of Christian beliefs, Paul nevertheless did not lie, and his statements may be considered to be rather innocuous.
21 Because of these things the Judaeans seizing me in the temple attempted to take me in hand.
The word διαχειρίζω (1315) is literally rendered to take in hand here, and it is to kill in the King James Version. The word is “to have in hand, conduct, manage, administer” (Liddell & Scott) and so the sense may be to dispatch, in the sense of killing as we sometimes say in English.
22 However obtaining assistance from God, unto this day I have stood bearing testimony to both the small and the great, saying nothing outside of the things which both the prophets and Moses said are going to happen, 23 whether the Christ was to suffer, whether first from a resurrection from the dead is a light going to be declared to both the people and to the Nations.”
Paul himself portrays his arrest by the Roman commander and his transport to Caesareia in bonds as a means by which his life was saved, and by which he has been able to continue preaching the Gospel, and this is further admitted as having been by the providence of God. The argument over “whether Christ was to suffer” was one that Paul disputed throughout his ministry, since Israel expected a conquering Messiah who would deliver them from the Romans, and not a suffering Messiah who would die for their sins.
24 And upon his speaking these things in reply, Phestos with a great voice said “Paul, you are mad! Your great learning has turned you to madness!”
The phrase translated “great learning” here is literally “many letters” or “many writings”; the Codex Alexandrinus (A) has “For you to know many writings”.
Phestos, being a pagan Roman, and being unaware of the Hebrew Scriptures and not informed of the religious history of the Judaeans, could be expected to think that Paul was mad in professing these things which he said here.
25 But Paul “I am not mad, as it is said, noble Phestos, but the words which I utter are of truth and discretion. 26 For the king knows about these things, to whom also [B wants “also”] I speak being freespoken. For any [B wants “any”] of these things to escape his notice I am not persuaded at all, [A and E want “at all”] indeed it is not in a corner that this had been done! 27 You do believe, King Agrippas, in the prophets? I know that you believe.”
Although it may appear to be so on the surface, Paul is not trying to “convert” Agrippas here. Rather, as he surely knows, he has cornered an Edomite, a descendant of Esau, which all of the family of Herod were. That Paul knew the difference between Israelites and Edomites is fully evident from his own words, written long before this time, in both his epistles to the Romans and to the Thessalonians. The Edomites in Judaea, having been converted to Judaism and having claimed ever since that time to be Judaeans, dare not deny in public either the prophets or the law. Instead, Agrippas escapes Paul’s challenge with guile, giving the evasive answer which is recorded here in verse 28.
28 Then Agrippas to Paul: “In brief do you persuade me to be made a Christian?”
Neither the Nestle Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, nor the King James Version read this clause as a question, however several more modern translations do. As it stands in most manuscripts, it is clearly a rhetorical question. The phrase ἐν ὀλίγῳ may be read as either “in few words” (see Thayer at ὀλίγος, 3641) or “in a little time”. Thayer would read the phrase as “easily”. Because the same term is contrasted to ἐν μεγάλῳ at v. 29, where I have rendered it as “at length”, I have ἐν ὀλίγῳ simply as “in brief” in both places. The Codex Alexandrinus (A) has the verb πείθω, which is to persuade, in the Subjunctive mood rather than the Indicative, where the clause may be rendered as a statement: “in a little [or “in a few words”] you may persuade me to be made a Christian”; The Codices Laudianus and the Majority Text have a different verb at the end of the clause, which would be rendered as merely “to be”, rather than “to be made”. The text here follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Vaticanus (B) and 048.
Paul challenged the Edomite king Herod Agrippa II with a question regarding whether or not he believed the Prophets of God, and just like the typically slick Jewish lawyer, Agrippa evaded answering by asking a question of his own. The only surprise in the discourse, however, is that Agrippa used the term Christian, which most of the Judaeans of the time seem to have avoided using.
Notice, however, that Herod imagines that he could be made a Christian, and this has been an error of many Christians from the beginning, that Christianity was no different from the other Greek philosophies and eastern religions in that one could choose to be Christian no matter one's origin.
29 And Paul: “I would have prayed to God that in brief and at length not only you but also all those hearing me today are to be such as of this manner that also I am, except for these bonds.”
The Majority Text has “in brief and in much”, having πολύς rather than μέγας for which the King James Version has “almost, and altogether”.
The Christian hope reflected by the idealism of Paul here is that all men would be obedient to Yahweh God. This is true even when it is realized that many of them cannot possibly be obedient, as it is evident where John the Baptist challenged certain Pharisees and Sadducees who came to his baptism with the command that they “8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matthew 3:8-9).
Indeed many of the Pharisees and Sadducees were children of Abraham through Esau, and not through Jacob, and even if Yahweh did raise up children to Abraham from stones, that would still not make those children the heirs of the promises. Christ told those same leaders of Judaea that “If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham”, proving to them that they could not possibly do well.
At some point in the future, all men will indeed be like Paul, because all of the enemies of Yahweh our God shall be as though they had never been, and that is also a Christian promise.
30 Then [the MT interpolates “upon his saying these things”] the king arose, and the governor and Bernika and those who gathered with them 31 and departing they spoke to each other saying that this man does nothing worthy of death or bonds. 32 And Agrippas said to Phestos: “This man was able to have been released, if he had not appealed to Caesar.”
In Acts chapter 25 (25:24) we saw that Agrippa knew that the Judaeans wanted to kill Paul, as Festus had informed him: “King Agrippas, and all those men who are here with us, see him concerning whom all the multitude of the Judaeans entreated me both in Jerusalem and here, crying out that it is no longer fitting for him to live!” It may be conjectured, that is unlikely that even Agrippa had influence enough over the Judaeans to keep them from such a deed, since from the pages of Josephus it can be told that the high priests and the Sadducees were constantly acting in their own narrow interests, and several times in this period Agrippa was forced to change high priests, since they were always exceeding their authority. Herod's reply is therefore to maintain the status quo, to admit that Paul was innocent, but to encourage Festus to send him to Caesar regardless.
We are not ever told what it was that Porcius Festus may have written to Nero concerning Paul of Tarsus. However it is evident, that pronouncing that Yahshua is the Christ, and that He alone is the true King, Paul is on course for an inevitable clash with an emperor who imagined himself to be a god.