on Acts 26 :32
Then said Agrippa, etc. - The king himself, who had participated in the strongest emotions on the occasion, feels himself prompted to wish the apostle's immediate liberation; but this was now rendered impracticable, because he had appealed to Caesar; the appeal was no doubt registered, and the business must now proceed to a full hearing. Bp. Pearce conjectures, with great probability, that Agrippa, on his return to Rome, represented Paul's case so favourably to the emperor, or his ministers of state, that he was soon set at liberty there, as may be concluded from Acts 28:30, that he dwelt two whole years in his own hired place; and to the same cause it seems to have been owing that Julius, who had the care of Paul as a prisoner in the ship, treated him courteously; see Acts 27:3, Acts 27:43. And the same may be gathered from Acts 28:14, Acts 28:16. So that this defense of the apostle before Agrippa, Bernice, Festus, etc., was ultimately serviceable to his important cause.
1. The conversion of Saul was a wonderful work of the Spirit of God; and, as we have already seen, a strong proof of the truth of Christianity; and the apostle himself frequently appeals to it as such.
2. His mission to the Gentiles was as extraordinary as the calling of the Gentiles itself. Every thing is supernatural in a work of grace; for, because nature cannot produce the effects, the grace of God, which implies the co-operation of his omniscience, omnipotence, and endless mercy, undertakes to perform the otherwise impossible task.
3. From the commission of St. Paul, we see the state in which the Gentile world was, previously to the preaching of the Gospel.
1. Their eyes are represented as closed; their understanding was darkened; and they had no right apprehension of spiritual or eternal things.
2. They were in a state of darkness; living without the knowledge of the true God, in a region where nothing but ignorance prevailed.
3. They were under the dominion and authority of Satan; they were his vassals, and he claimed them as his right.
4. They were in a state of guiltiness; living, in almost every respect, in opposition to the dictates even of nature itself.
5. They were polluted; not only irregular and abominable in their lives, but also impure and unholy in their hearts. Thus far their state.
Behold what the grace of the Gospel is to do for these Gentiles, in order to redeem them from this state: -
1. It opens their eyes; gives them an understanding, whereby they may discern the truth; and, without this illumination from above, the truth of God can never be properly apprehended.
2. It turns them from the darkness to the light; a fine metaphor, taken from the act of a blind man, who is continually turning his eyes towards the light, and rolling his eyes upwards towards the sun, and in all directions, that he may collect as many of the scattered rays as he can, in order to form distinct vision. In this way the Gentiles appeared to be, in vain, searching after the light, till the Gospel came, and turned their eyes to the Sun of righteousness.
3. They are brought from under the bondage and slavery of sin and Satan, to be put under the obedience of Jesus Christ. So that Christ and his grace as truly and as fully rule and govern them as sin and Satan did formerly. This is a proof that the change is not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord.
4. He pardons their sin, so that they are no longer liable to endless perdition.
on Acts 26 :32
Then said Agrippa unto Festus ... - This is a full declaration of the conviction of Agrippa, before whom the cause had been heard, that Paul was innocent. It is an instance, also, where boldness and fidelity will be attended with happy results. Paul had concealed nothing of the truth. He had made a bold and faithful appeal Acts 26:27 to Agrippa himself for the truth of what he was saying. By this appeal Agrippa had not been offended. It had only served to impress him more with the innocence of Paul. It is an instance which shows that religion may be so commended to the conscience and reason of princes, kings, and judges that they will see its truth. It is an instance which shows that the most bold and faithful appeals may be made by the ministers of religion to their hearers for the truth of what they are saying. And it is a full proof that the most faithful appeals, if respectful, may be made without offending people, and with the certainty that they will feel and admit their force. All preachers should be as faithful as Paul; and whatever may be the rank and character of their auditors, they should never doubt that they have truth and God on their side, and that their message, when most bold and faithful, will commend itself to the consciences of mankind.
on Acts 26 :32