“Brothers and esteemed fathers,” Paul said, “listen to me as I offer my defense.”
When they heard him speaking in their own language, the silence was even greater.
Then Paul said, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, and I was brought up and educated here in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. As his student, I was carefully trained in our Jewish laws and customs. I became very zealous to honor God in everything I did, just like all of you today.
And I persecuted the followers of the Way, hounding some to death, arresting both men and women and throwing them in prison.
The high priest and the whole council of elders can testify that this is so. For I received letters from them to our Jewish brothers in Damascus, authorizing me to bring the followers of the Way from there to Jerusalem, in chains, to be punished.
“As I was on the road, approaching Damascus about noon, a very bright light from heaven suddenly shone down around me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
“‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked. “And the voice replied, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, the one you are persecuting.’
The people with me saw the light but didn’t understand the voice speaking to me.