Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You have permission to speak for yourself."1 So Paul motioned with his hand2 and began his defense:
"King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate to stand before you3 today as I make my defense against all the accusations of the Jews,4
and especially so because you are well acquainted with all the Jewish customs5 and controversies.6 Therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.
"The Jews all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child,7 from the beginning of my life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem.
They have known me for a long time8 and can testify, if they are willing, that according to the strictest sect9 of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.10
And now it is because of my hope11 in what God has promised our fathers12 that I am on trial today.
This is the promise our twelve tribes13 are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night.14 O king, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me.15
Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?16
"I too was convinced17 that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose18 the name of Jesus of Nazareth.19
And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints20 in prison,21 and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.22
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Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished,23 and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.
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"On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests.
About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions.
We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice24 saying to me in Aramaic,25 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
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"Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' " 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied.
'Now get up and stand on your feet.26 I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you.27
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I will rescue you28 from your own people and from the Gentiles.29 I am sending you to them
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to open their eyes30 and turn them from darkness to light,31 and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins32 and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'33
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"So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient34 to the vision from heaven.
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First to those in Damascus,35 then to those in Jerusalem36 and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles37 also, I preached that they should repent38 and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.39
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That is why the Jews seized me40 in the temple courts and tried to kill me.41
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But I have had God's help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen42--
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that the Christ would suffer43 and, as the first to rise from the dead,44 would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles."45
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At this point Festus interrupted Paul's defense. "You are out of your mind,46 Paul!" he shouted. "Your great learning47 is driving you insane."
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"I am not insane, most excellent48 Festus," Paul replied. "What I am saying is true and reasonable.
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The king is familiar with these things,49 and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner.
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