Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Acts
Book: Acts
Chapter: 26

Paul's defence before Agrippa. (1-11) His Conversion and
preaching to the Gentiles. (12-23) Festus and Agrippa convinced
of Paul's innocence. (24-32)

1-11 Christianity teaches us to give a reason of the Hope that
is in us, and also to give honour to whom honour is due, without
flattery or fear of Man. Agrippa was Well versed in the
Scriptures of the Old Testament, therefore could the better
Judge as to the controversy about Jesus being the Messiah.
Surely ministers may expect, when they preach the Faith of
Christ, to be heard patiently. Paul professes that he still kept
to all the good in which he was first educated and trained up.
See here what his religion was. He was a moralist, a Man of
virtue, and had not learned the arts of the crafty, covetous
Pharisees; he was not chargeable with any open vice and
profaneness. He was sound in the Faith. He always had a holy
regard for the ancient promise made of God unto the fathers, and
built his Hope upon it. The Apostle knew very Well that all this
would not justify him before God, yet he knew it was for his
reputation among the Jews, and an argument that he was not such
a Man as they represented him to be. Though he counted this but
loss, that he might win Christ, yet he mentioned it when it
might serve to honour Christ. See here what Paul's religion is;
he has not such zeal for the ceremonial Law as he had in his
youth; the sacrifices and offerings appointed By that, are done
away By the great Sacrifice which they typified. Of the
ceremonial cleansings he makes No Conscience, and thinks the
Levitical priesthood is done away in the priesthood of Christ;
but, as to the main principles of his religion, he is as zealous
as ever. Christ and Heaven, are the two great doctrines of the
Gospel; that God has given to us eternal Life, and this Life is
in his Son. These are the matter of the promise made unto the
fathers. The Temple service, or continual course of religious
duties, Day and night, was kept up as the profession of Faith in
the promise of eternal Life, and in expectation of it. The
prospect of eternal Life should engage us to be diligent and
stedfast in all religious exercises. Yet the Sadducees hated
Paul for preaching the resurrection; and the other Jews joined
them, because he testified that Jesus was risen, and was the
promised Redeemer of Israel. Many things are thought to be
Beyond belief, only because the infinite nature and perfections
of Him that has revealed, performed, or promised them, are
overlooked. Paul acknowledged, that while he continued a
Pharisee, he was a Bitter enemy to Christianity. This was his
character and manner of Life in the beginning of his time; and
there was every thing to hinder his being a Christian. Those who
have been most strict in their conduct before Conversion, will
afterwards see abundant reason for humbling themselves, even On
account of things which they then thought ought to have been

12-23 Paul was made a Christian By Divine power; By a
Revelation of Christ both to him and in him; when in the full
career of his Sin. He was made a Minister By Divine authority:
the same Jesus who appeared to him in that glorious Light,
ordered him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. A world that
sits in Darkness must be enlightened; those must be brought to
know the things that belong to their Everlasting peace, who are
yet ignorant of them. A world that lies in wickedness must be
sanctified and reformed; it is not enough for them to have their
eyes opened, they must have their hearts renewed; not enough to
be turned from Darkness to Light, but they must be turned from
the power of Satan unto God. All who are turned from Sin to God,
are not only pardoned, but have a grant of a rich inheritance.
The forgiveness of sins makes way for this. None can be happy
who are not holy; and to be saints in Heaven we must be first
saints On Earth. We are made holy, and saved By Faith in Christ;
By which we rely upon Christ as the Lord our Righteousness, and
give up ourselves to him as the Lord our Ruler; By this we
receive the remission of sins, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and
eternal Life. The Cross of Christ was a stumbling-block to the
Jews, and they were in a rage at Paul's preaching the fulfilling
of the Old Testament predictions. Christ should be the first
that should rise from the dead; the Head or principal One. Also,
it was foretold By the prophets, that the Gentiles should be
brought to the knowledge of God By the Messiah; and what in this
could the Jews justly be displeased at? Thus the true convert
can give a reason of his Hope, and a good account of the change
manifest in him. Yet for going about and Calling On men thus to
repent and to be converted, vast Numbers have been blamed and

24-32 It becomes us, On all occasions, to speak the words of
Truth and soberness, and then we need not be troubled at the
unjust censures of men. Active and laborious followers of the
Gospel often have been despised as dreamers or Madmen, for
believing such doctrines and such wonderful facts; and for
attesting that the same Faith and diligence, and an experience
like their own, are necessary to all men, whatever their rank,
in order to their Salvation. But apostles and prophets, and the
Son of God himself, were exposed to this charge; and none need
be moved thereby, when Divine Grace has made them Wise unto
Salvation. Agrippa saw a great Deal of reason for Christianity.
His understanding and Judgment were for the time convinced, but
his Heart was not changed. And his conduct and temper were
widely different from the Humility and spirituality of the
Gospel. Many are almost persuaded to be religious, who are not
quite persuaded; they are under strong convictions of their
duty, and of the excellence of the ways of God, yet do not
pursue their convictions. Paul urged that it was the concern of
every one to become a true Christian; that there is Grace enough
in Christ for all. He expressed his full conviction of the Truth
of the Gospel, the absolute necessity of Faith in Christ in
order to Salvation. Such Salvation from such Bondage, the Gospel
of Christ offers to the Gentiles; to a lost world. Yet it is
with much difficulty that any person can be persuaded he needs a
work of Grace On his Heart, like that which was needful for the
Conversion of the Gentiles. Let us beware of fatal hesitation in
our own conduct; and recollect how far the being almost
persuaded to be a Christian, is from being altogether such a one
as every true believer is.