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Acts 26:9

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

I verily thought - I indeed μὲν mensupposed. Paul here commences the account of his conversion, and states the evidence on which he judged that he was called of God to do what he had done. He begins by saying that it was not because he was originally disposed to be a Christian, but that he was violently and conscientiously opposed to Jesus of Nazareth, and had been converted when in the full career of opposition to him and his cause.

With myself - I thought to myself; or, I myself thought. He had before stated the hopes and expectations of his countrymen, Acts 26:6-8. He now speaks of his own views and purposes. “For myself, I thought,” etc.

That I ought to do - That I was bound, or that it was a duty incumbent on me - δεῖν dein“I thought that I owed it to my country, to my religion, and to my God, to oppose in every manner the claims of Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah.” We here see that Paul was conscientious, and that a man may be conscientious even when engaged in enormous wickedness. It is no evidence that one is right because he is conscientious. No small part of the crimes against human laws, and almost all the cruel persecutions against Christians, have been carried on under the plea of conscience. Paul here refers to his conscientiousness in persecution to show that it was no slight matter which could have changed his course. As he was governed in persecution by conscience, it could have been only by a force of demonstration, and by the urgency of conscience equally clear and strong, that he could ever have been induced to abandon this course and to become a friend of that Saviour whom he had thus persecuted.

Many things - As much as possible. He was not satisfied with a few things a few words, or purposes, or arguments; but he felt bound to do as much as possible to put down the new religion.

Contrary to the name … - In opposition to Jesus himself, or to his claims to be the Messiah. The “name” is often used to denote the “person” himself, Acts 3:6.

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
Faith and Works, 33.1

God has given us His Word to be our guide. Christ has said, “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). He prayed for His disciples, “Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Paul says, “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9). But this belief did not make his course right. When Paul received the gospel of Jesus Christ, it made him a new creature. He was transformed; the truth planted in his soul gave him such faith and courage as a follower of Christ that no opposition could move him, no suffering daunt him. FW 33.1

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Ellen G. White
Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, 322.4

Possible to Be Conscientiously Wrong—The idea is entertained by many that a man may practice anything that he conscientiously believes to be right. But the question is, Has the man a well-instructed, good conscience, or is it biased and warped by his own preconceived opinions? Conscience is not to take the place of “Thus saith the Lord.” Consciences do not all harmonize and are not all inspired alike. Some consciences are dead, seared as with a hot iron. Men may be conscientiously wrong as well as conscientiously right. Paul did not believe in Jesus of Nazareth, and he hunted the Christians from city to city, verily believing that he was doing service to God.—Letter 4, 1889. 1MCP 322.4

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Ellen G. White
The Upward Look, 363.1

I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Acts 26:9. UL 363.1

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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 Acts of the Apostles, 103

This chapter is based on Acts 8.

After the death of Stephen there arose against the believers in Jerusalem a persecution so relentless that “they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria.” Saul “made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.” Of his zeal in this cruel work he said at a later date: “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.... 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.” That Stephen was not the only one who suffered death may be seen from Saul's own words, “And when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.” Acts 26:9-11. AA 103.1

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