New Defender's Study Bible Notes
26:7 twelve tribes. Paul recognized that representatives from all twelve tribes of Israel were still in Judaea, all still adhering to their ancient religion. There is no suggestion in the New Testament that there were ten lost tribes somewhere else in the world. Israelites indeed were scattered all over the known world, including descendants of those who had been in Assyria (which later had been conquered by Babylon, then by Persia, finally by Greece and Rome).
26:8 a thing incredible. It would be incredible if anyone but God (or those empowered by him) should claim to raise the dead, for only He is the Creator of life. To Paul, it was both anomalous and sad that the Jews, especially the Pharisees, whose hope was centered in the coming Messiah and the promised resurrection, should now be denying that Jesus had proved He was the Messiah by the very fact of His fulfillment of their hope. They believed in the doctrine of the resurrection, especially when the evidence was so strong that many Pharisees (including Paul) already had believed.
26:14 kick against the pricks. This somewhat homely expression refers to a harnessed animal trying to kick away the goads restraining him. Evidently, even as Paul had been furiously persecuting the Christians, he had been increasingly smitten in conscience, especially by the remembrance of the demeanor of Stephen when he died, as well as by the willingness of Christians everywhere to suffer and die for their faith, if need be.
26:16 But rise. Acts 26:14-18 give a more detailed account of what the Lord Jesus said to Paul on the road to Damascus than is found either in Acts 9:4-6 or Acts 22:7-10.
26:18 To open their eyes. These words of the Creator to Paul make it emphatic that the evolutionary pantheism of the Gentiles was not sufficient to bring them salvation. They were, in fact, under “the power of Satan,” who had led them into these false religions. The “god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.” (II Corinthians 4:4), and Paul had been sent to “open their eyes” to the truth. They were in “darkness,” but Christ died to deliver them “from the power of darkness” (Colossians 1:13) into “the light of the glorious gospel of Christ” (II Corinthians 4:4).
26:24 make thee mad. Festus evidently became impatient at Paul’s lengthy expositions of Scripture in justification of his Christian faith and witness. The summary of Paul’s address as given here is evidently only that—a mere summary of the Biblical evidence cited by Paul that “Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:23). To the Roman Festus, who knew little or nothing of the Jewish Scriptures, and probably cared even less, all of this was incomprehensible, and he expostulated that Paul must have gone mad through so much study about these Jewish fables. But Paul was not speaking to Festus; he was speaking to Agrippa, and he knew Agrippa understood (Acts 26:27). Agrippa no doubt also could understand why the Jews were so incensed at the thought that Paul was teaching the Gentiles that all their own privileges, as God’s chosen people, were now going to the Gentiles, too.
26:28 Almost thou persuadest me. Some expositors, because of certain variations in the Greek text here, regard this as a question, or as a sarcastic remark, as though Paul was presumptuous in trying to persuade in a short time such an important man as King Agrippa to become a Christian. However, the majority text, as well as the context, favors the Authorized Version here. If Paul’s exposition could make the Roman governor Felix tremble (Acts 24:25) with terror (literal meaning), he could certainly bring strong persuasion to a man such as Agrippa who was much better instructed than Festus in the Scriptures. In any case, mental persuasion is not enough. Agrippa, like many others since, put the decision off, no doubt for political and financial reasons.