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Acts 26:4

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

My manner of life, etc. - The apostle means to state that, though born in Tarsus, he had a regular Jewish education, having been sent up to Jerusalem for that purpose; but at what age does not appear; probably about twelve, for at this age the male children were probably brought to the annual solemnities. See on Luke 2:41; (note).

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

My manner of life - My opinions, principles, and conduct.

From my youth - Paul was born in Tarsus; but at an early period he had been sent to Jerusalem for the purpose of education in the school of Gamaliel, Acts 22:3.

Which was at the first - Which was from the beginning; the early part of which; the time when the opinions and habits are formed.

Know all the Jews - It is not at all improbable that Paul was distinguished in the school of Gamaliel for zeal in the Jewish religion. The fact that he was early entrusted with a commission against the Christians Philemon 3:4-6. He might appeal to them, therefore, in regard to the early part of his life, and, doubtless, to the very men who had been his violent accusers.

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
The Ministry of Healing, 489-90

If we have a sense of the long-suffering of God toward us, we shall not be found judging or accusing others. When Christ was living on the earth, how surprised His associates would have been, if, after becoming acquainted with Him, they had heard Him speak one word of accusation, of fault-finding, or of impatience. Let us never forget that those who love Him are to represent Him in character. MH 489.1

“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.” “Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.” Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 3:9. MH 489.2

The Lord Jesus demands our acknowledgment of the rights of every man. Men's social rights, and their rights as Christians, are to be taken into consideration. All are to be treated with refinement and delicacy, as the sons and daughters of God. MH 489.3

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 213

And while teaching that the glory of salvation belongs solely to God, he also declared that the duty of obedience belongs to man. “If thou art a member of Christ's church,” he said, “thou art a member of His body; if thou art of His body, then thou art full of the divine nature.... Oh, if men could but enter into the understanding of this privilege, how purely, chastely, and holily would they live, and how contemptible, when compared with the glory within them,—that glory which the eye of flesh cannot see,—would they deem all the glory of this world.”—Ibid., b. 12, ch. 2. GC 213.1

There were some among Lefevre's students who listened eagerly to his words, and who, long after the teacher's voice should be silenced, were to continue to declare the truth. Such was William Farel. The son of pious parents, and educated to accept with implicit faith the teachings of the church, he might, with the apostle Paul, have declared concerning himself: “After the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.” Acts 26:5. A devoted Romanist, he burned with zeal to destroy all who should dare to oppose the church. “I would gnash my teeth like a furious wolf,” he afterward said, referring to this period of his life, “when I heard anyone speaking against the pope.”—Wylie, b. 13, ch. 2. He had been untiring in his adoration of the saints, in company with Lefevre making the round of the churches of Paris, worshipping at the altars, and adorning with gifts the holy shrines. But these observances could not bring peace of soul. Conviction of sin fastened upon him, which all the acts of penance that he practiced failed to banish. As to a voice from heaven he listened to the Reformer's words: “Salvation is of grace.” “The Innocent One is condemned, and the criminal is acquitted.” “It is the cross of Christ alone that openeth the gates of heaven, and shutteth the gates of hell.”—Ibid., b. 13, ch. 2. GC 213.2

Farel joyfully accepted the truth. By a conversion like that of Paul he turned from the bondage of tradition to the liberty of the sons of God. “Instead of the murderous heart of a ravening wolf,” he came back, he says, “quietly like a meek and harmless lamb, having his heart entirely withdrawn from the pope, and given to Jesus Christ.”—D'Aubigne, b. 12, ch. 3. GC 214.1

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Ellen G. White
Selected Messages Book 1, 346

Through belief in Satan's misrepresentation of God, man's character and destiny were changed, but if men will believe in the Word of God, they will be transformed in mind and character, and fitted for eternal life. To believe that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16), will change the heart, and reproduce in man the image of God. 1SM 346.1

As many are today, so (before his conversion) Paul was very confident in an hereditary piety; but his confidence was founded on falsehood. It was faith out of Christ, for he trusted in forms and ceremonies. His zeal for the law was disconnected from Christ and was valueless. His boast was that he was blameless in his performance of the deeds of the law; but the Christ who made the law of any value he refused. He was confident that he was right. He says: “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and 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” (Acts 26:9, 10). For a time Paul did a very cruel work, thinking that he was doing God service; for he says, “I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Timothy 1:13). But his sincerity did not justify his work, or make error truth. 1SM 346.2

Faith is the medium through which truth or error finds a lodging place in the mind. It is by the same act of mind that truth or error is received, but it makes a decided difference whether we believe the Word of God or the sayings of men. When Christ revealed Himself to Paul, and he was convinced that he was persecuting Jesus in the person of His saints, he accepted the truth as it is in Jesus. A transforming power was manifested on mind and character, and he became a new man in Christ Jesus. He received the truth so fully that neither earth nor hell could shake his faith. 1SM 346.3

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 433-8

This chapter is based on 25:13-27; 26.

Paul had appealed to Caesar, and Festus could not do otherwise than send him to Rome. But some time passed before a suitable ship could be found; and as other prisoners were to be sent with Paul, the consideration of their cases also occasioned delay. This gave Paul opportunity to present the reasons of his faith before the principal men of Caesarea, and also before King Agrippa II, the last of the Herods. AA 433.1

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Cross References
Paul's Arrest and Imprisonment