After consulting with Agrippa who had arrived in Caesurea Paul was brought in before him and Bernice and other high ranking officials. Festus declared that he didn’t understand the charges against Paul and needed something to write to the Emperor in Rome about the case.
Paul’s defended himself before Agrippa.
He told Agrippa that he was fortunate to stand before him who understood the Jewish customs and controversies. Paul asked him to hear him patiently.
He outlined his early life and that he was well known to the Jews as a strict Pharisee in Jerusalem. He stated that it was because of the Hope of Israel promised to their fathers that he was being tried.The hope of Israel was the Resurrection of the dead. He asked why should anyone consider this incredible?
Then he outlined how he opposed the Name of Jesus of Nazareth, how he threw believers in prison and voted against those who were put to death. He had forced them to blaspheme even going to foreign cities to arrest them.
He spoke of his conversion on the road to Damascus when He met Jesus who said in Aramaic, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the Goads. (the pricks).
Paul was told to get up and that he was appointed a servant and a witness of what he had seen of Jesus. He was told that he would be rescued from his own people and the gentiles to whom he was being sent.
He was to do the following:acts 26:17
1) to open their eyes,
2) to turn them from darkness to light,
3) and from the power of Satan to God,
4) then they would receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ.
Barnes Notes:To open their eyes - To enlighten or instruct them. Ignorance is represented by the eyes being closed, and the instruction of the gospel by the opening of the eyes. See Eph_1:18.
And to turn them from darkness to light - From the darkness of paganism and sin to the light and purity of the gospel. Darkness is an emblem of ignorance and of sin, and the pagan nations are often represented as sitting in darkness. Compare the Mat_4:16 note; Joh_1:4-5 notes.
And from the power of Satan - From the dominion of Satan. Compare Col_1:13; 1Pe_2:9. See the notes on Joh_12:31; Joh_16:11. Satan is thus represented as the prince of this world, the ruler of the darkness of this world, the prince of the power of the air, etc. The pagan world, lying in sin and superstition, is represented as under his control; and this passage teaches, doubtless, that the great mass of the people of this world are the subjects of the kingdom of Satan, and are led captive by him at his will.
He explained his Obedience to the heavenly Vision. He had preached in Damascus, Jerusalem, Judea and to Gentiles that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.
He spoke to Agrippa and Bernice that Christ should suffer according to Moses and the prophets had said. And that asChrist was first to rise from the dead, He would proclaim light to his own people and to the gentiles.
Festus shouted out interrupting Paul, “ You are out of your mind, Paul!” “Your great learning is driving you insane!”
Paul said, “Most excellent Festus I am not insane. What I am saying is true and reasonable.” Paul pressed Agrippa asking if he believed the prophets then replying, I know you do.”
Thou art beside thyself - Thou art deranged; thou art insane. The reasons why Festus thought Paul mad were, probably:
(1) His great earnestness and excitement on the subject.
(2) his laying such stress on the gospel of the despised Jesus of Nazareth, as if it were a matter of infinite moment. Festus despised it; and he regarded it as proof of derangement that so much importance was attached to it.
(3) Festus regarded, probably, the whole story of the vision that Paul said had appeared to him as the effect of an inflamed and excited imagination, and as a proof of delirium. This is not an uncommon charge against those who are Christians, and especially when they evince unusual zeal. Sinners regard them as under the influence of delirium and fanaticism; as terrified by imaginary and superstitious fears; or as misguided by fanatical leaders. Husbands often thus think their wives to be deranged, and parents perceive their children that, and wicked people assume the ministers of the gospel to be crazy. The frivolous think it proof of derangement that others are serious, anxious, and prayerful; the rich, that others are willing to part with their property to do good; the ambitious and worldly, that others are willing to leave their country and home to go among the Gentiles to spend their lives in making known the unsearchable riches of Christ. The really sober and rational part of the world they who fear God and keep his commandments; they who believe that eternity is before them, and who strive to live for it - are thus charged with insanity by those who are really deluded, and who are thus living lives of madness and folly. The tenants of a madhouse often think all others deranged but themselves; but there is no madness so great, no delirium so awful, as to neglect the eternal interest of the soul for the sake of the pleasures and honors which this life can give.
Much learning - It is probable that Festus was acquainted with the fact that Paul was a learned man. Paul had not, while before him, manifested particularly his learning. But Festus, acquainted in some way with the fact that he was well-educated, supposed that his brain had been turned, and that the effect of it was seen by devotion to a fanatical form of religion. The tendency of long-continued and intense application to produce mental derangement is everywhere known.
Doth make thee mad - Impels, drives, or excites thee περιτρέπει peritrepei to madness. Barnes Notes
Agrippa asked Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Acts 26:16-18
Paul answered, Short time or long - I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.
Agrippa agreed with Festus that Paul could have been freed if he had not appealed to Caesar.