What does Acts 26:1 mean?
ESV: So Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense:
NIV: Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'You have permission to speak for yourself.' So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense:
NASB: Now Agrippa said to Paul, 'You are permitted to speak for yourself.' Then Paul extended his hand and proceeded to make his defense:
CSB: Agrippa said to Paul, "You have permission to speak for yourself."Then Paul stretched out his hand and began his defense:
NLT: Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'You may speak in your defense.' So Paul, gesturing with his hand, started his defense:
KJV: Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
NKJV: Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.” So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself:
Verse Commentary:
Paul has been under house arrest in Caesarea Maritima for two years (Acts 24:27). The Sanhedrin claimed, "this man [is] a plague, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world and is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. He even tried to profane the temple, but we seized him" (Acts 24:5–6). Paul countered that their real issue is his belief that Jesus rose from the dead (Acts 24:21). Although the Sanhedrin couldn't prove their claims, first Governor Felix (Acts 24:27) and then Festus (Acts 25:9) wished to placate the council while not obliterating Paul's rights as a Roman citizen.

After enduring two years of unjust indecisiveness, Paul appealed his case to a higher court (Acts 25:11–12). Festus must send him, but he has nothing with which to charge Paul. Festus has asked the help of King Agrippa II, the king's sister/lover Bernice, and the civil and military leaders of Caesarea for help (Acts 25:23–27). To that end, Agrippa invites Paul to tell his story.

Agrippa and Bernice are the children of Agrippa I, the king who beheaded the apostle James, brother of John, and arrested Peter before dying of intestinal worms after receiving worship as a god (Acts 12:1–3, 20–23). Agrippa I was the grandson of Herod the Great. The family has been in the region a long time and has a very good understanding of Judaism. They also fully grasp Jewish culture, although they are ethnically mixed; Herod the Great was Idumean, meaning Edomite, and Nabatean, meaning Arabian. His wife, Mariamne, was a Hasmonean Jew descended from the Maccabees. Both Agrippa II and Bernice are friends and informants of the Jewish historian Josephus.
Verse Context:
Acts 26:1–11 contains Paul's account of his life before encountering Jesus Christ. He speaks to Governor Festus, King Agrippa II, and the military and civil leadership of Caesarea Maritima. Before conversion, Paul absorbed training as a devout Pharisee, including passionate devotion to the Mosaic law. His beliefs led him to zealously hunt Jesus-followers, even voting that they be executed if they did not deny Christ. Everything changed when he tracked Christians to Damascus.
Chapter Summary:
Acts 26 records Paul's testimony before the noblemen of Caesarea Maritima, as well as their reactions. He explains that Jewish leaders want him dead because he once persecuted the church, but now believes Jesus rose from the dead and has been spreading that message. Governor Festus thinks Paul has gone mad. King Agrippa II, however, finds his story compelling. They realize that had Paul not appealed to a higher Roman court, they could have let him go.
Chapter Context:
After being held in custody for two years and, again, hassled by the Sanhedrin who want to kill him, Paul appeals his case to Caesar (Acts 25:7–12). Before he travels to Rome, however, Governor Festus has Paul give his testimony before King Agrippa II and the noblemen of Caesarea Maritima (Act 25:23–27). When Paul is finished, they realize they should have set him free before he appealed to Caesar (Acts 26:30–32). But he must go to Rome, surviving a violent storm and a shipwreck along the way (Acts 27—28).
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
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