"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.
"I am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, and I was brought up and educated here in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. At his feet I learned to follow our Jewish laws and customs very carefully. I became very zealous to honor God in everything I did, just as all of you are today.
And I persecuted the followers of the Way, hounding some to death, binding and delivering both men and women to prison.
The high priest and the whole council of leaders can testify that this is so. For I received letters from them to our Jewish brothers in Damascus, authorizing me to bring the Christians from there to Jerusalem, in chains, to be punished."
"As I was on the road, nearing Damascus, about noon a very bright light from heaven suddenly shone around me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?'"
"'Who are you, sir?' I asked. And he replied, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, the one you are persecuting.'
The people with me saw the light but didn't hear the voice."