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1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.” So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: 2 “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, 3 especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently. 4 “My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. 5 They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. 6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7 To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. 8 Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?

 

In 26:1-13, Paul harks back to his early life when he encountered a vision from the Lord. He began defending himself before King Agrippa II at the end of chapter 25. Paul’s longest speech in the book of Acts explains the reason the Jews wanted him to go on trial for a capital crime. Governor Festus did not know how to handle Paul’s case, so he asked the advice of Agrippa. Festus was in a dilemma between freeing himself of his legal responsibility to Paul and justifying his case before a Roman court.

26:1

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.” So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself:

At his hearing before two statesmen and their entourages, King Agrippa permitted Paul to defend himself. Paul extended his hand to start his vindication.

26:2

“I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews,

With this verse, Paul begins to defend himself against the accusations of the Jewish council. God put a king in his situation who had a rare ability to hear his case. Marcus Julius Agrippa II was competent in both Roman and Jewish law and culture. His hearing of Paul was a sovereign act of God on the apostle’s behalf. He spoke to non-Christians respectfully.

26:3

especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.

Paul affirmed to King Agrippa that he was someone who knew Jewish customs and questions because he was a Jew. Although a Jew, he also lived in Roman culture. He understood both worlds and was the best person to make a judgment about both worlds of Paul. He asked the king to be patient with his remarks.

26:4

“My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know.

Paul grew up in Cilicia Asia Minor, then later moved to Jerusalem while a young man. The Jews knew from his youth that he was a committed Jew.

26:5

They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

The Jews knew very well that Saul, who turned Paul, was previously a Pharisee, which is a strict religious group. It was also well-known that Pharisees believed in the resurrection.

26:6

And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers.

Paul’s reason for which he is now on trial was for a religious purpose. The Jews wanted to try him for doctrinal reasons and not because of Roman law. As a good Jew, he believed in the resurrection; he put his eternal future in that hope. They could not associate him with someone hostile to traditional Jewish doctrine.

The apostle put his “hope” or trust in God’s promises, especially the hope of resurrection. The word “hope” appears in this verse and the next and in other passages in Acts 23:6; 24:15; 28:20). Hope places one’s confidence in God’s promises. Further, Paul put his confidence in the fact that Jesus rose from the dead to give eternal life to all who would believe.

26:7

To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews.

Paul asserted that all the tribes of Israel share the same hope; his doctrine was not an isolated, obscure doctrine among the Jews.

26:8

Why should it be thought incredible by you [plural] that God raises the dead?

The apostle specifies that the hope to which he referred was the resurrection of the dead. Moses himself spoke of the resurrection (Ex 3:6), which verse Christ quoted in defense of the resurrection (Mt 22:32). The concept of resurrection was not a difficult doctrine to believe for the Jews. They prayed for it every day. Although the Jews believed in the resurrection, the difference between Paul and them was he believed Jesus rose from the dead, establishing him as the Messiah-Savior. His resurrection convinced Paul of who He was. It was not their belief in the resurrection at issue but that it was Jesus Christ who rose from the dead.

PRINCIPLE:

The resurrection of Christ provides believers with confidence that their bodies will rise from the dead to be with God forever.

APPLICATION:

Christ’s resurrection offers hope and confidence that Christians will rise from the dead. We obtain this confidence by the offer of hope; it is a promise from God. It is crucial to proclaim the message of resurrection because it is foundational to Christianity. Ultimately, the communicator of the gospel cannot escape from presenting it as a core doctrine of Scripture.

 

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