"Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense."
When they heard him address them in Aramaic, they became even more quiet.
Paul continued, “I'm a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia but raised in this city. Under Gamaliel's instruction, I was trained in the strict interpretation of our ancestral Law. I am passionately loyal to God, just like you who are gathered here today.
I harassed those who followed this Way to their death, arresting and delivering both men and women into prison.
The high priest and the whole Jerusalem Council can testify about me. I received letters from them, addressed to our associates in Damascus, then went there to bring those who were arrested to Jerusalem so they could be punished.
“During that journey, about noon, as I approached Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven encircled me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice asking me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you harassing me?'
I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?' ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are harassing,' he replied.
My traveling companions saw the light, but they didn't hear the voice of the one who spoke to me.
I asked, ‘What should I do, Lord?' ‘Get up,' the Lord replied, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told everything you have been appointed to do.'
I couldn't see because of the brightness of that light, so my companions led me by the hand into Damascus.
“There was a certain man named Ananias. According to the standards of the Law, he was a pious man who enjoyed the respect of all the Jews living there.
He came and stood beside me. ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!' he said. Instantly, I regained my sight and I could see him.
He said, ‘The God of our ancestors has selected you to know his will, to see the righteous one, and to hear his voice.
You will be his witness to everyone concerning what you have seen and heard.
What are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized, and wash away your sins as you call on his name.'
"When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I had a visionary experience.
I saw the Lord speaking to me. ‘Hurry!' he said. ‘Leave Jerusalem at once because they won't accept your testimony about me.'
I responded, ‘Lord, these people know I used to go from one synagogue to the next, beating those who believe in you and throwing them into prison.
When Stephen your witness was being killed, I stood there giving my approval, even watching the clothes that belonged to those who were killing him.'
Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go! I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'"