"Brothers and fathers,1 listen now to my defense."
When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic,2 they became very quiet. Then Paul said:
"I am a Jew,3 born in Tarsus4 of Cilicia,5 but brought up in this city. Under6 Gamaliel7 I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers8 and was just as zealous9 for God as any of you are today.
I persecuted10 the followers of this Way11 to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison,125
as also the high priest and all the Council13 can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers14 in Damascus,15 and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
"About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me.167
I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, 'Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?'8
" 'Who are you, Lord?' I asked. " 'I am Jesus of Nazareth,17 whom you are persecuting,' he replied.
My companions saw the light,18 but they did not understand the voice19 of him who was speaking to me.
" 'What shall I do, Lord?' I asked. " 'Get up,' the Lord said, 'and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.'2011
My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.2112
"A man named Ananias came to see me.22 He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there.2313
He stood beside me and said, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And at that very moment I was able to see him.
"Then he said: 'The God of our fathers24 has chosen you to know his will and to see25 the Righteous One26 and to hear words from his mouth.
You will be his witness27 to all men of what you have seen28 and heard.
And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized29 and wash your sins away,30 calling on his name.'3117
"When I returned to Jerusalem32 and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance3318
and saw the Lord speaking. 'Quick!' he said to me. 'Leave Jerusalem immediately, because they will not accept your testimony about me.'19
" 'Lord,' I replied, 'these men know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison34 and beat35 those who believe in you.
And when the blood of your martyra Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.'3621
"Then the Lord said to me, 'Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.' "37