Section 6: Trial V. and Last.—Place, Still Cæsarea
This requires some previous explanation.
A few days after the last preceding trial, came to Cæsarea, says verse 13, Agrippa and Bernice: Festus being still there: Agrippa, sub-king of the Jews under the Romans: Bernice, it may be presumed, his queen: saluting this their superior, their only business mentioned. Follows thereupon a conversation, of which Defendant is the subject, and which continues the length of fourteen verses. Defendant having appealed to Caesar, judge has determined to send him to Caesar accordingly. But, considering that, by the emperor, on the arrival of a man sent to him in the character of a prisoner, some assigned cause, for his having been put into that condition, will naturally be looked for; and, as the only offences, the Jew stands charged with, are of a sort, which, while to the heathen emperor they would not be intelligible, would to a Jew sub-king, if to any one, be sufficiently so;—thereupon it is, that he desires his sub-majesty to join with him in the hearing of the cause, and by that means put him in a way to report upon it.
Speaking of the accusers, Festus says to Agrippa
Now then comes the trial, Acts 26:1. Scene, at Cæsarea, the Emperor's Bench. Lord chief justice, Roman governor Festus; Puisne judge, Jew sub-king Agrippa. Present, "Bernice...chief captains and principal men of the city." Special accusers, none. Sole speaker, whose speech is reported, the Defendant.
Points in Defendant's speech, these:
- 1. Verses 2 and 3. Patient hearing requested, acknowledgment of Agrippa's special confidence.
- 2. Verses 4 and 5. Protestation of Phariseeism.
- 3. Verses 6, 7, 8. Same false insinuation as before,—Phariseeism the sole crime imputed to him.
- 4. Verses 9, 10, 11. Confession or avowal, whichever it is to be called, of his proceedings six-and-twenty years before, against the Christianized Jews, shutting them up in prison, in pursuance of authority from "the chief priests," down to the time of his conversion-vision. See Table I. Conversion Table.
- 5. Verses 12 to 20. Account of this same vision. See that same Table.
- 6. Declaration.
For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.Acts 26:21—For these causes? For what causes? If for being a Pharisee, or preaching the general resurrection, or even the particular one,—assuredly no. But, if for the breach of trust, in joining with the state offenders, the Christianized Jews, whom he was commissioned to apprehend;—joining with those state offenders, and then bringing out the vision-story for an excuse;—if telling everybody that would hear him, that the law of the land was a dead letter;—and, if the denying he had ever done so; and, for giving himself the benefit of such mendacious denial, rendering the temple an instrument of notorious perjury;—if it was for all this, that they "went about" indeed "to kill him,"—but to kill him no otherwise than in the manner prescribed by that same law,—Jewishly speaking, they were not to blame in what they did,—humanly speaking, nothing can be seen that is not altogether natural in it.
Conclusion: namely, if not of what he would have said,—at any rate, of what, according to the reporter, he was permitted to say:—it is formed by a passage, in which, in continuance of his plan for keeping up his interest with the Pharisee part of the council, his ingenuity employs itself in strengthening the connection between the particular resurrection of Jesus, and the general resurrection maintained by the Pharisees.
8. Defendant in reply: Not mad, but sober:—for confirmation, appeal to the Jewish sub-monarch, then and there present.
King Agrippa to Paul,
Paul to Agrippa:
Assembly breaks up.—
The circumstantiated and dramatic style of this part of the narrative, seems to add to the probability, that, on this occasion, the historian himself was present. On this supposition, though in the Greek as well as in the English, they are represented as if they had quitted the justice-room,—any conversation, that took place among them immediately after, in the street, might not unnaturally have been overheard by him. In 24:23, stands Felix's order of admittance, as above, for Paul's acquaintance, to minister or come to him. One other attendant has appeared, in the character of his sister's son, Acts 23:16; by whom information was given to Felix, that the men there spoken of were lying in wait for him to kill him. On the occasion of this invasion of his, it would have been interesting enough to have had a complete list of his staff.
Here ends trial fifth and last: and in the next verse it is, that, together with other prisoners, and the historian at least for his free attendant, he is dispatched on his voyage.