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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 26

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1Agrippa said to Paul: ‘You have our permission to give an account of yourself.’ Then Paul stretched out his hand and began his defence.

2I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa, that it is before you I am to make my defence today on all the charges brought against me by the Jews, 3particularly as you are expert in all our Jewish customs and controversies. I beg you therefore to give me a patient hearing.

4‘My life from my youth up, a life spent from the first among my nation and in Jerusalem, is familiar to all Jews. 5Indeed they have known me long enough to testify, if they would, that I belonged to the strictest group in our religion: I was a Pharisee. 6It is the hope based on the promise God made to our forefathers that has led to my being on trial today. 7Our twelve tribes worship with intense devotion night and day in the hope of seeing the fulfilment of that promise; and for this very hope I am accused, your majesty, and accused by Jews. 8Why should Jews find it incredible that God should raise the dead?

9‘I myself once thought it my duty to work actively against the name of Jesus of Nazareth; 10and I did so in Jerusalem. By authority obtained from the chief priests, I sent many of God's people to prison, and when they were condemned to death, my vote was cast against them. 11In all the synagogues I tried by repeated punishment to make them commit blasphemy; indeed my fury rose to such a pitch that I extended my persecution to foreign cities.

12‘On one such occasion I was travelling to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests; 13and as I was on my way, your majesty, at midday I saw a light from the sky, more brilliant than the sun, shining all around me and my companions. 14We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in the Jewish language, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It hurts to kick like this against the goad.” 15I said, “Tell me, Lord, who you are,” and the Lord replied, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16But now, get to your feet. I have appeared to you for a purpose: to appoint you my servant and witness, to tell what you have seen and what you shall yet see of me. 17I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles to whom I am sending you. 18You are to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, from the dominion of Satan to God, so that they may obtain forgiveness of sins and a place among those whom God has made his own through faith in me.”

19‘So, King Agrippa, I did not disobey the heavenly vision. 20I preached first to the inhabitants of Damascus, and then to Jerusalem and all the country of Judaea, and to the Gentiles, calling on them to repent and turn to God, and to prove their repentance by their deeds. 21That is why the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to do away with me. 22But I have had God's help to this very day, and here I stand bearing witness to the great and to the lowly. I assert nothing beyond what was foretold by the prophets and by Moses: 23that the Messiah would suffer and that, as the first to rise from the dead, he would announce the dawn both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.’

24While Paul was thus making his defence, Festus shouted at the top of his voice, ‘Paul, you are raving; too much study is driving you mad.’ 25‘I am not mad, your excellency,’ said Paul; ‘what I am asserting is sober truth. 26The king is well versed in these matters, and I can speak freely to him. I do not believe that he can be unaware of any of these facts, for this has been no hole-and-corner business. 27King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.’ 28Agrippa said to Paul, ‘With a little more of your persuasion you will make a Christian of me.’ 29‘Little or much,’ said Paul, ‘I wish to God that not only you, but all those who are listening to me today, might become what I am—apart from these chains!’

30With that the king rose, and with him the governor, Bernice, and the rest of the company, 31and after they had withdrawn they talked it over. ‘This man’, they agreed, ‘is doing nothing that deserves death or imprisonment.’ 32Agrippa said to Festus, ‘The fellow could have been discharged, if he had not appealed to the emperor.’

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