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Acts 26:11

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Being exceedingly mad against them - Only a madman will persecute another because of his differing from him in religious opinion; and the fiercest persecutor is he who should be deemed the most furious madman.

Unto strange cities - Places out of the jurisdiction of the Jews, such as Damascus, which he immediately mentions.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And I punished them oft … - See Acts 22:19.

And compelled them to blaspheme - To blaspheme the name of Jesus by denying that he was the Messiah, and by admitting that he was an impostor. This was the object which they had in view in the persecution. It was not to make them blaspheme or reproach God, but to deny that Jesus was the Messiah, and to reproach him as a deceiver and an impostor. It is not necessarily implied in the expression, “and compelled them to blaspheme,” that he succeeded in doing it, but that he endeavored to make them apostatize from the Christian religion and deny the Lord Jesus. It is certainly not impossible that a few might thus have been induced by the authority of the Sanhedrin and by the threats of Paul to do it, but it is certain that the great mass of Christians adhered firmly to their belief that Jesus was the Messiah.

And being exceedingly mad - Nothing could more forcibly express his violence against the Christians. He raged like a madman; he was so ignorant that he laid aside all appearance of reason; with the fury and violence of a maniac, he endeavored to exterminate them from the earth. None but a madman will persecute people on account of their religious opinions; and all persecutions have been conducted like this, with the violence, the fury, and the ungovernable temper of maniacs.

Unto strange cities - Unto foreign cities; cities out of Judea. The principal instance of this was his going to Damascus; but there is no evidence that he did not intend also to visit other cities out of Judea and bring the Christians there, of he found any, to Jerusalem.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Christianity teaches us to give a reason of the hope that is in us, and also to give honour to whom honour is due, without flattery or fear of man. Agrippa was well versed in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, therefore could the better judge as to the controversy about Jesus being the Messiah. Surely ministers may expect, when they preach the faith of Christ, to be heard patiently. Paul professes that he still kept to all the good in which he was first educated and trained up. See here what his religion was. He was a moralist, a man of virtue, and had not learned the arts of the crafty, covetous Pharisees; he was not chargeable with any open vice and profaneness. He was sound in the faith. He always had a holy regard for the ancient promise made of God unto the fathers, and built his hope upon it. The apostle knew very well that all this would not justify him before God, yet he knew it was for his reputation among the Jews, and an argument that he was not such a man as they represented him to be. Though he counted this but loss, that he might win Christ, yet he mentioned it when it might serve to honour Christ. See here what Paul's religion is; he has not such zeal for the ceremonial law as he had in his youth; the sacrifices and offerings appointed by that, are done away by the great Sacrifice which they typified. Of the ceremonial cleansings he makes no conscience, and thinks the Levitical priesthood is done away in the priesthood of Christ; but, as to the main principles of his religion, he is as zealous as ever. Christ and heaven, are the two great doctrines of the gospel; that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. These are the matter of the promise made unto the fathers. The temple service, or continual course of religious duties, day and night, was kept up as the profession of faith in the promise of eternal life, and in expectation of it. The prospect of eternal life should engage us to be diligent and stedfast in all religious exercises. Yet the Sadducees hated Paul for preaching the resurrection; and the other Jews joined them, because he testified that Jesus was risen, and was the promised Redeemer of Israel. Many things are thought to be beyond belief, only because the infinite nature and perfections of Him that has revealed, performed, or promised them, are overlooked. Paul acknowledged, that while he continued a Pharisee, he was a bitter enemy to Christianity. This was his character and manner of life in the beginning of his time; and there was every thing to hinder his being a Christian. Those who have been most strict in their conduct before conversion, will afterwards see abundant reason for humbling themselves, even on account of things which they then thought ought to have been done.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, 641

When sin has deadened the moral perceptions, the wrong-doer does not discern the defects of his character nor realize the enormity of the evil he has committed; and unless he yields to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit he remains in partial blindness to his sin. His confessions are not sincere and in earnest. To every acknowledgment of his guilt he adds an apology in excuse of his course, declaring that if it had not been for certain circumstances, he would not have done this or that for which he is reproved. But the examples in God's word of genuine repentance and humiliation reveal a spirit of confession in which there is no excuse for sin or attempt at self-justification. 5T 641.1

Paul did not seek to shield himself; he paints his sin in its darkest hue, not attempting to lessen his guilt. He says: “Many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.” He does not hesitate to declare that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 5T 641.2

The humble and broken heart, subdued by genuine repentance, will appreciate something of the love of God and the cost of Calvary; and as a son confesses to a loving father, so will the truly penitent bring all his sins before God. And it is written: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 5T 641.3

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Ellen G. White
Steps to Christ, 41

The examples in God's word of genuine repentance and humiliation reveal a spirit of confession in which there is no excuse for sin or attempt at self-justification. Paul did not seek to shield himself; he paints his sin in its darkest hue, not attempting to lessen his guilt. He says, “Many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.” Acts 26:10, 11. He does not hesitate to declare that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 1 Timothy 1:15. SC 41.1

The humble and broken heart, subdued by genuine repentance, will appreciate something of the love of God and the cost of Calvary; and as a son confesses to a loving father, so will the truly penitent bring all his sins before God. And it is written, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. SC 41.2

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Ellen G. White
The Story of Redemption, 268-71

This chapter is based on Acts 9:1-22.

The mind of Saul was greatly stirred by the triumphant death of Stephen. He was shaken in his prejudice; but the opinions and arguments of the priests and rulers finally convinced him that Stephen was a blasphemer; that Jesus Christ whom he preached was an imposter, and that those ministering in holy offices must be right. Being a man of decided mind and strong purpose, he became very bitter in his opposition to Christianity, after having once entirely settled in his mind that the views of the priests and scribes were right. His zeal led him to voluntarily engage in persecuting the believers. He caused holy men to be dragged before the councils, and to be imprisoned or condemned to death without evidence of any offense, save their faith in Jesus. Of a similar character, though in a different direction, was the zeal of James and John when they would have called down fire from heaven to consume those who slighted and scorned their Master. SR 268.1

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1065

(Psalm 119:126, 127; 1 Timothy 4:1.) Traitors to Truth Become Her Worst Persecutors—Much so-called Christianity passes for genuine, faithful soundness, but it is because those who profess it have no persecution to endure for the truth's sake. When the day comes when the law of God is made void, and the church is sifted by the fiery trials that are to try all that live upon the earth, a great proportion of those who are supposed to be genuine will give heed to seducing spirits, and will turn traitors and betray sacred trusts. They will prove our very worst persecutors. “Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them;” and many will give heed to seducing spirits. 6BC 1065.1

Those who have lived on the flesh and blood of the Son of God—His Holy Word—will be strengthened, rooted, and grounded in the faith. They will see increased evidence why they should prize and obey the Word of God. With David, they will say, “They have made void thy law. Therefore love I thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.” While others count them dross, they will arise to defend the faith. All who study their convenience, their pleasure, their enjoyment, will not stand in their trial (The Review and Herald, June 8, 1897). 6BC 1065.2

33, 34. See EGW on ch. 18:1-3. 6BC 1065.3

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