"Brothers and fathers, listen as I now present my case to you."
When the mob heard him speak to them in Hebrew, they became even more quiet. Then Paul continued,
"I'm a Jew. I was born and raised in the city of Tarsus in Cilicia and received my education from Gamaliel here in Jerusalem. My education was in the strict rules handed down by our ancestors. I was as devoted to God as all of you are today.
I persecuted people who followed the way [of Christ]: I tied up men and women and put them into prison until they were executed.
The chief priest and the entire council of our leaders can prove that I did this. In fact, they even gave me letters to take to the Jewish community in the city of Damascus. I was going there to tie up believers and bring them back to Jerusalem to punish them.
"But as I was on my way and approaching the city of Damascus about noon, a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice asking me, 'Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?'
"I answered, 'Who are you, sir?' "The person told me, 'I'm Jesus from Nazareth, the one you're persecuting.'
"The men who were with me saw the light but didn't understand what the person who was speaking to me said.
"Then I asked, 'What do you want me to do, Lord?' "The Lord told me, 'Get up! Go into the city of Damascus, and you'll be told everything I've arranged for you to do.'
"I was blind because the light had been so bright. So the men who were with me led me into the city of Damascus.
"A man named Ananias lived in Damascus. He was a devout person who followed Moses' Teachings. All the Jews living in Damascus spoke highly of him.
He came to me, stood beside me, and said, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' At that moment my sight came back and I could see Ananias.
"Ananias said, 'The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the one who has God's approval, and to hear him speak to you.
You will be his witness and will tell everyone what you have seen and heard.
What are you waiting for now? Get up! Be baptized, and have your sins washed away as you call on his name.'
"After that, I returned to Jerusalem. While I was praying in the temple courtyard, I fell into a trance
and saw the Lord. He told me, 'Hurry! Get out of Jerusalem immediately. The people here won't accept your testimony about me.'
"I said, 'Lord, people here know that I went from synagogue to synagogue to imprison and whip those who believe in you.
When Stephen, who witnessed about you, was being killed, I was standing there. I approved of his death and guarded the coats of those who were murdering him.'
"But the Lord told me, 'Go! I'll send you on a mission. You'll go far away to people who aren't Jewish.'"
Up to that point the mob listened. Then they began to shout, "Kill him! The world doesn't need a man like this. He shouldn't have been allowed to live this long!"
The mob was yelling, taking off their coats, and throwing dirt into the air.
So the officer ordered the soldiers to take Paul into the barracks and told them to question Paul as they whipped him. The officer wanted to find out why the people were yelling at Paul like this.
But when the soldiers had Paul stretch out [to tie him to the whipping post] with the straps, Paul asked the sergeant who was standing there, "Is it legal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn't had a trial?"
When the sergeant heard this, he reported it to his commanding officer. The sergeant asked him, "What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen."
The officer went to Paul and asked him, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?" Paul answered, "Yes."
The officer replied, "I paid a lot of money to become a Roman citizen." Paul replied, "But I was born a Roman citizen."
Immediately, the soldiers who were going to question Paul stepped away from him. The officer was afraid when he found out that he had tied up a Roman citizen.
The officer wanted to find out exactly what accusation the Jews had against Paul. So the officer released Paul the next day and ordered the chief priests and the entire Jewish council to meet. Then the officer brought Paul and had him stand in front of them.