Acts 26:8 – Can God Raise the Dead?
In Acts 26, Paul makes a defense of his ministry before Herod Agrippa II, a king who ruled over certain Palestinian territories during the first century A.D. Agrippa II was the son of Agrippa I, the infamous ruler who murdered the first apostle (Acts 12:1-2).
In his presentation Paul argues that his message is nothing more than a proclamation of the “hope of the promise made of God” unto the Hebrew fathers (Acts 26:6). The apostle continues: “And concerning this hope I am accused by the Jews, O king!” Paul then addresses his remarks to the larger group assembled. He pointedly asks:
“Why is it judged incredible with you, if God doth raise the dead?” (Acts 26:8).
There are several important items in this passage that warrant consideration.
First, the query is rhetorical (i.e., it expects no answer). More than anything, it expresses a sort of divine exasperation. The word “incredible” is interesting. It translates the Greek
apistos, literally, “not believing.” To deny that God can raise the dead, as he has promised to do (cf. Dan. 12:2; Jn. 5:28-29; 1 Cor. 15), is an expression of unbelief. Actually, it reflects upon the power of the Almighty.
Second, the pronoun translated “you” is plural. Paul has expanded his remarks from the “king” (Acts 26:7) to the others present. Probably they are mostly Gentiles (cf. 25:23ff). Note that.
Third, Paul is amazed that these skeptics find it so unbelievable that God should have the power to “raise the dead.” The word “dead” is a masculine, plural form. Hence, God promised to raise up “the dead ones.” This clearly reveals that the apostle is speaking-not of the resurrection of a cause (e.g., Christianity; as asserted by some) but of individual dead bodies.
Circle “dead,” and in your margin note: Plural; dead people. Too, you may wish to record several parallel references which assert the divine ability to raise the dead (see 1 Sam. 2:6; Jn. 5:28-29; 6:39, 44, 54; Acts 24:15; 1 Cor. 15:12ff).