Acts 26:1-5
Acts 26:1 (KJB)
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
Can you picture the scene in Caesarea that day. There was King Agrippa in all his royal robes and his sister Bernice with all her jewels and wealthy clothing along with all the rulers of the town and all the Roman soldiers dressed in their best uniforms for parading. Then in the middle is one little man for whom all this was prepared for. This setting reminds me of the verse in 2 Peter. (2 Pet 1:11 KJV) For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. An abundant entrance into Heaven awaits the true believer. Here Paul is surrounded by an abundance of rulers all dressed up for an evangelistic crusade. The King Agrippa says to Paul that he may freely speak for himself. He knows that he is not on trial but here is an opportunity to bring the Gospel to royalty and the crowds which have gathered.
Acts 26:2 (KJB)
I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:
Happy - Blessed
Paul had considered himself blessed that he was now able to answer all the charges brought against him by the Jews. Paul did not focus on any of the pomp surrounding him and the big parade, he wanted to focus on the accusations made against him. Paul always put the cause of Christ first because that was his reason of existence. He was glad that he was given the opportunity to speak unhindered by shouts of a mob.
Acts 26:3 (KJB)
Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.
One of the reasons that Paul was happy to speak before Agrippa was because he was an expert in all the matters concerning the Jews, especially the customs and teachings. Since Paul was now speaking to someone on his theological level, he now asks the king to listen to him patiently because he will probably go into much detail which would be necessary to bring out the facts in this case. Paul was also going to bring out the facts of the Gospel which is the real reason he is before Agrippa. Festus may have known some things, but he would not have had training in the finer points of the law of Moses and this is what Paul was counting on by speaking to someone who would understand a little bit deeper.
Acts 26:4 (KJB)
My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
Now that Paul was speaking to a Jew, he did not bring up the fact of his young life in Tarsus nor the influence of his family, but kept the defense specifically upon the things of the Jews. He first began his religious life in his own town of Tarsus and then as he got older, went to Jerusalem for further training. He was taught by Gamaliel, the grandson of Hillel. He learned all the finer points of Old Testament law plus the rabbinical traditions and interpretations. Here Paul lays the foundation of his Jewish upbringing so Agrippa will know that Paul is not just some kind of rabble but a well-educated man.
Acts 26:5 (KJB)
Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
If those who knew Paul as he grew up and while he was still named Saul, they could easily testify to the fact that he was a Pharisee. The sect of the Pharisees were separatists. They had separated themselves from Greek culture and idolatry plus they stood against the Maccabean priests about 100 years prior to the time of Christ. Paul definitely makes it known that he was not here trying to start some new religion but that he was a Jew and a Pharisee which lived up to their tradition.