Acts 26:23

ESV that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”
NIV that the Messiah would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles.'
NASB as to whether the Christ was to suffer, and whether, as first from the resurrection of the dead, He would proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.'
CSB that the Messiah must suffer, and that, as the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light to our people and to the Gentiles."
NLT that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, and in this way announce God’s light to Jews and Gentiles alike.'
KJV That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.

What does Acts 26:23 mean?

Paul finishes his evangelistic message, thinly veiled as a legal defense.

In his audience are Roman military tribunes and leaders of the city of Caesarea Maritima. To them, he has given an account of his willing ministry to bring the light of the Jewish Messiah to Gentiles. They may know that Cornelius, a Roman centurion stationed in Caesarea, invited Peter to his home. What resulted was the first mass conversion of Gentiles (Acts 10).

Yet, Paul contextualizes and validates that offer through the Old Testament prophets. He does this for the benefit of King Agrippa II (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6; 60:3). He glosses over the prophecies of the suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13—53:12) and Jesus' resurrection (Psalm 16:9–10), but as a ruler in the homeland of Christianity, Agrippa may be familiar with these passages, as well.

What's more, Paul publicly identifies Agrippa as one of "our people." Agrippa is part Jewish, but he is also Arabian and Idumean: he is an Edomite, descended from Esau (Genesis 36:1), the rival brother to Israel's patriarch, Jacob. Agrippa is also involved in an incestuous relationship with his sister. Paul has insisted he follows the Mosaic law as well as any Pharisee (Acts 26:4–5), but he's not afraid of identifying with Agrippa, a sinner (1 Corinthians 9:22). He's also standing before the council in chains, but he's not ashamed (2 Timothy 1:12) to identify with Agrippa, a king.

Paul's words have some impact on Agrippa. He asks Paul, "In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?" Paul responds, "Whether short or long, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains" (Acts 26:28–29). There is no historical indication that Agrippa II ever followed Jesus, but who knows how many others in the audience did (Acts 25:23)? Paul's opportunity to speak truth likely had impacts we will only fully realize in eternity.
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