on Acts 26 :25
I am not mad, most noble Festus - This most sensible, appropriate, and modest answer, was the fullest proof he could give of his sound sense and discretion. The title, ΚρατιϚε, most noble, or most excellent, which he gives to Festus, shows at once that he was far above indulging any sentiment of anger or displeasure at Festus, though he had called him a madman; and it shows farther that, with the strictest conscientiousness, even an apostle may give titles of respect to men in power, which taken literally, imply much more than the persons deserve to whom they are applied. ΚρατιϚος, which implies most excellent, was merely a title which belonged to the office of Festus. St. Paul hereby acknowledges him as the governor; while, perhaps, moral excellence of any kind could with no propriety be attributed to him.
Speak forth the words of truth and soberness - Αληθειας και σωφροσυνης, Words of truth and of mental soundness. The very terms used by the apostle would at once convince Festus that he was mistaken. The σωφροσυνη of the apostle was elegantly opposed to the μανια of the governor: the one signifying mental derangement, the other mental sanity. Never was an answer, on the spur of the moment, more happily conceived.
on Acts 26 :25
I am not mad - I am not deranged. There are few more happy turns than what Paul gives to this accusation of Festus. He might have appealed to the course of his argument; he might have dwelt on the importance of the subject, and continued to reason; but he makes an appeal at once to Agrippa, and brings him in for a witness that he was not deranged. This would be far more likely to make an impression on the mind of Festus than anything that Paul could say in self-defense. The same reply, "I am not mad," can be made by all Christians to the charge of derangement which the world brings against them. They have come, like the prodigal son Luke 15:17, to their right mind; and by beginning to act as if there were a God and Saviour, as if they were to die, as if there were a boundless eternity before them, they are conducting according to the dictates of reason. And as Paul appealed to Agrippa, who was not a Christian, for the reasonableness and soberness of his own views and conduct, so may all Christians appeal to sinners themselves as witnesses that they are acting as immortal beings should act. All people know that if there is an eternity, it is right to prepare for it; if there is a God, it is proper to serve him; if a Saviour died for us, we should love him; if a hell, we should avoid it; if a heaven, we should seek it. And even when they charge us with folly and derangement, we may turn at once upon them, and appeal to their own consciences, and ask them if all our anxieties, and prayers, and efforts, and self-denials are not right? One of the best ways of convicting sinners is to appeal to them just as Paul did to Agrippa. When so appealed to, they will usually acknowledge the force of the appeal, and will admit that the solicitude of Christians for their salvation is according to the dictates of reason.
Most noble Festus - This was the usual title of the Roman governor. Compare Acts 24:3.
Of truth - In accordance with the predictions of Moses and the prophets, and the facts which have occurred in the death and resurrection of the Messiah. In proof of this he appeals to Agrippa, Acts 26:26-27. Truth here stands opposed to delusion, imposture, and fraud.
And soberness - Soberness σωφροσύνη sōphrosunē, wisdom) stands opposed here to madness or derangement, and denotes "sanity of mind." The words which I speak are those of a sane man, conscious of what he is saying, and impressed with its truth. They were the words, also, of a man who, under the charge of derangement, evinced the most perfect self-possession and command of his feelings, and who uttered sentiments deep, impressive, and worthy the attention of all mankind.
on Acts 26 :25
26:25 I am not mad, most excellent Festus - The style properly belonging to a Roman propretor. How inexpressibly beautiful is this reply! How strong! yet how decent and respectful! Mad men seldom call men by their names, and titles of honour. Thus also St. Paul refutes the charge. But utter the words of truth (confirmed in the next verse ) and sobriety - The very reverse of madness. And both these remain, even when the men of God act with the utmost vehemence.