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Acts chapter 26

New International Version

1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'You have permission to speak for yourself.' So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense: 2 King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.
4 The Jewish people all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. 5 They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee. 6 And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today. 7 This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. King Agrippa, it is because of this hope that these Jews are accusing me. 8 Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?
9 I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord's people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.
12 On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
15 Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' ' 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied. 16 Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'
19 So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds. 21 That is why some Jews seized me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. 22 But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen-- 23 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.'
24 At this point Festus interrupted Paul's defense. 'You are out of your mind, Paul!' he shouted. 'Your great learning is driving you insane.'
25 I am not insane, most excellent Festus,' Paul replied. 'What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26 The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.'
28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?'
29 Paul replied, 'Short time or long--I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.'
30 The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them. 31 After they left the room, they began saying to one another, 'This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment.'
32 Agrippa said to Festus, 'This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.'
English Standard Version

1 So Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense:
2 “I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.
4 “My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. 5 They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. 6 And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, 7 to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! 8 Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
9 “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.
12 “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13 At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
19 “Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. 21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 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.”
24 And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” 25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. 26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you believe.” 28 And Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” 29 And Paul said, “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.”
30 Then the king rose, and the governor and Bernice and those who were sitting with them. 31 And when they had withdrawn, they said to one another, “This man is doing nothing to deserve death or imprisonment.” 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.”
King James Version

1 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: 2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: 3 Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently. 4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; 5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. 6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: 7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. 8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? 9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. 11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. 14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. 16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; 17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. 19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: 20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. 21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. 22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: 23 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.
24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. 25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. 26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. 28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. 29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. 30 And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: 31 And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds. 32 Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.
New American Standard Bible

1 Now Agrippa said to Paul, 'You are permitted to speak for yourself.' Then Paul extended his hand and proceeded to make his defense:
2 'Regarding all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate that I am about to make my defense before you today, 3 especially because you are an expert in all customs and questions among the Jews; therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.
4 'So then, all Jews know my way of life since my youth, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation and in Jerusalem, 5 since they have known about me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion. 6 And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers; 7 the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day. For this hope, O king, I am being accused by Jews. 8 Why is it considered incredible among you people if God raises the dead?
9 'So I thought to myself that I had to act in strong opposition to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, after receiving authority from the chief priests, but I also cast my vote against them when they were being put to death. 11 And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and since I was extremely enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities.
12 'While so engaged, as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, 13 at midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who were journeying with me. 14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you as a servant and a witness not only to the things in which you have seen Me, but also to the things in which I will appear to you, 17 rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light, and from thepower of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’
19 'For that reason, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but continually proclaimed to those in Damascus first, and in Jerusalem, and then all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they are to repent and turn to God, performing deeds consistent with repentance. 21 For these reasons some Jews seized me in the temple and tried to murder me. 22 So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place, 23 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.'
24 While Paul was stating these things in his defense, Festus *said in a loud voice, 'Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you insane.' 25 But Paul *said, 'I am not insane, most excellent Festus; on the contrary, I am speaking out with truthful and rational words. 26 For the king knows about these matters, and I also speak to him with confidence, since I am persuaded that none of these things escape his notice; for this has not been done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know that you believe.' 28 Agrippa replied to Paul, 'In a short time you are going to persuade me to make a Christian of myself.' 29 And Paul said, 'I would wish to God that even in a short or long time not only you, but also all who hear me this day would become such as I myself am, except for these chains.'
30 The king stood up and the governor and Bernice, and those who were sitting with them, 31 and when they had gone out, they began talking to one another, saying, 'This man is not doing anything deserving death or imprisonment.' 32 And Agrippa said to Festus, 'This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.'
New Living Translation

1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'You may speak in your defense.' So Paul, gesturing with his hand, started his defense: 2 'I am fortunate, King Agrippa, that you are the one hearing my defense today against all these accusations made by the Jewish leaders, 3 for I know you are an expert on all Jewish customs and controversies. Now please listen to me patiently!
4 'As the Jewish leaders are well aware, I was given a thorough Jewish training from my earliest childhood among my own people and in Jerusalem. 5 If they would admit it, they know that I have been a member of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of our religion. 6 Now I am on trial because of my hope in the fulfillment of God's promise made to our ancestors. 7 In fact, that is why the twelve tribes of Israel zealously worship God night and day, and they share the same hope I have. Yet, Your Majesty, they accuse me for having this hope! 8 Why does it seem incredible to any of you that God can raise the dead?
9 'I used to believe that I ought to do everything I could to oppose the very name of Jesus the Nazarene. 10 Indeed, I did just that in Jerusalem. Authorized by the leading priests, I caused many believers there to be sent to prison. And I cast my vote against them when they were condemned to death. 11 Many times I had them punished in the synagogues to get them to curse Jesus. I was so violently opposed to them that I even chased them down in foreign cities.
12 'One day I was on such a mission to Damascus, armed with the authority and commission of the leading priests. 13 About noon, Your Majesty, as I was on the road, a light from heaven brighter than the sun shone down on me and my companions. 14 We all fell down, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is useless for you to fight against my will.'
15 ''Who are you, lord?' I asked. 'And the Lord replied, 'I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. 16 Now get to your feet! For I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and witness. You are to tell the world what you have seen and what I will show you in the future. 17 And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles 18 to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and be given a place among God's people, who are set apart by faith in me.'
19 'And so, King Agrippa, I obeyed that vision from heaven. 20 I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God--and prove they have changed by the good things they do. 21 Some Jews arrested me in the Temple for preaching this, and they tried to kill me. 22 But God has protected me right up to this present time so I can testify to everyone, from the least to the greatest. I teach nothing except what the prophets and Moses said would happen-- 23 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.'
24 Suddenly, Festus shouted, 'Paul, you are insane. Too much study has made you crazy!'
25 But Paul replied, 'I am not insane, Most Excellent Festus. What I am saying is the sober truth. 26 And King Agrippa knows about these things. I speak boldly, for I am sure these events are all familiar to him, for they were not done in a corner! 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do--'
28 Agrippa interrupted him. 'Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?'
29 Paul replied, 'Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that both you and everyone here in this audience might become the same as I am, except for these chains.'
30 Then the king, the governor, Bernice, and all the others stood and left. 31 As they went out, they talked it over and agreed, 'This man hasn't done anything to deserve death or imprisonment.'
32 And Agrippa said to Festus, 'He could have been set free if he hadn't appealed to Caesar.'
Christian Standard Bible

1 Agrippa said to Paul, "You have permission to speak for yourself."Then Paul stretched out his hand and began his defense: 2 "I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, 3 especially since you are very knowledgeable about all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.
4 "All the Jews know my way of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem. 5 They have known me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived as a Pharisee. 6 And now I stand on trial because of the hope in what God promised to our ancestors, 7 the promise our twelve tribes hope to reach as they earnestly serve him night and day. King Agrippa, I am being accused by the Jews because of this hope. 8 Why do any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead? 9 In fact, I myself was convinced that it was necessary to do many things in opposition to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 I actually did this in Jerusalem, and I locked up many of the saints in prison, since I had received authority for that from the chief priests. When they were put to death, I was in agreement against them. 11 In all the synagogues I often punished them and tried to make them blaspheme. Since I was terribly enraged at them, I pursued them even to foreign cities.
12 "I was traveling to Damascus under these circumstances with authority and a commission from the chief priests. 13 King Agrippa, while on the road at midday, I saw a light from heaven brighter than the sun, shining around me and those traveling with me. 14 We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice speaking to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
15 "I asked, 'Who are you, Lord? '"And the Lord replied, 'I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. 16 But get up and stand on your feet. For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17 I will rescue you from your people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'
19 "So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. 20 Instead, I preached to those in Damascus first, and to those in Jerusalem and in all the region of Judea, and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works worthy of repentance. 21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and were trying to kill me. 22 To this very day, I have had help from God, and I stand and testify to both small and great, saying nothing other than what the prophets and Moses said would take place-- 23 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."
24 As he was saying these things in his defense, Festus exclaimed in a loud voice, "You're out of your mind, Paul! Too much study is driving you mad."
25 But Paul replied, "I'm not out of my mind, most excellent Festus. On the contrary, I'm speaking words of truth and good judgment. 26 For the king knows about these matters, and I can speak boldly to him. For I am convinced that none of these things has escaped his notice, since this was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you believe."
28 Agrippa said to Paul, "Are you going to persuade me to become a Christian so easily? "
29 "I wish before God," replied Paul, "that whether easily or with difficulty, not only you but all who listen to me today might become as I am--except for these chains."
30 The king, the governor, Bernice, and those sitting with them got up, 31 and when they had left they talked with each other and said, "This man is not doing anything to deserve death or imprisonment."
32 Agrippa said to Festus, "This man could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar."

What does Acts chapter 26 mean?

The Sanhedrin continues to cause problems for Paul. They want to kill him because he preaches that Jesus rose from the grave (Acts 24:21). Two years before, they tried to have him assassinated (Acts 23:12–15). When their plans were foiled by Paul's nephew, they tried to convince Governor Felix to execute him. Though the charges were spurious and unproveable, Felix kept Paul in custody as a political favor to the Sanhedrin (Acts 24:5–6, 27). Two years later, when Festus replaced Felix, the Sanhedrin tried again (Acts 25:1–7). Like Felix, Festus wanted to accommodate the Jewish leaders, but he couldn't summarily convict Paul because his Roman citizenship protected him. Festus tried to convince Paul to meet him half-way, and Paul responded by appealing his case to Caesar (Acts 25:8–12). Festus must send Paul to Rome, but he has no charges, so he's invited King Agrippa II, the king's sister/lover Bernice, and the military and civil leaders of Caesarea to hear Paul's story and help him determine what, if any, crime Paul has committed (Acts 25:23).

In Acts 26:1–11, after acknowledging that Agrippa will understand the cultural and religious nuances of his story, Paul describes his life before he started following Jesus. He was trained as a Pharisee and absorbed their beliefs. That included ascribing truth to the resurrection of the dead. He also embodied a great respect for the Mosaic law. He was so devout in his traditional beliefs that he actively hunted and arrested Christians, even voting that those who did not recant should be put to death. He was on such a mission when he traveled to Damascus, Syria.

Acts 26:12–18 is Paul's account of his conversion. On Paul's way to Damascus, Jesus appeared in a bright light. Jesus not only claimed Paul, but He also commissioned him to spread the news of His resurrection to Jews and Gentiles and to bring them to understanding so that they would turn from darkness to light, be released from Satan's power, receive forgiveness of sins, and have a place among those sanctified by faith.

In Acts 26:19–23, Paul gives a very short account of his ministry. This reflects the pattern of Jesus' mandate in Acts 1:8. He then explains why he is in custody, including the attack by the Jews. In short, Paul asserts, he was arrested for believing in the prophets and Moses.

Acts 26:24–32 reveals two very different reactions to Paul's speech. Festus, a Roman governor who has only been in the region for a few weeks, can't accept the resurrection of any dead and determines Paul has gone mad. Agrippa understands, however, and even flirts with the idea that Paul may be right. When the noblemen leave to discuss the situation, they determine that whether Paul is a madman or a prophet, he is no criminal. If he hadn't appealed to Caesar, they would have had no choice but to free him. As it is, they have no choice but to send him to Rome.

The remainder of the book describes Paul and Luke's journey to and arrival at Rome. Luke gives a detailed account of the sea voyage, including a violent storm and shipwreck (Acts 27). The castaways are cared for by the natives of the island of Malta after Paul survives a viper bite with no ill effects. Paul and Luke eventually reach Rome where they meet with the Jewish leadership and members of the growing church. After two years under house arrest, Paul's case is apparently dismissed (Acts 28). Although Paul goes on to minister several more years before his final arrest and execution, Luke's account stops here.