"Brothers and fathers,1 listen now to my defense."
When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic,2 they became very quiet. Then Paul said:
"I am a Jew,3 born in Tarsus4 of Cilicia,5 but brought up in this city. I studied under6 Gamaliel7 and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors.8 I was just as zealous9 for God as any of you are today.
I persecuted10 the followers of this Way11 to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison,125
as the high priest and all the Council13 can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates14 in Damascus,15 and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
"About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me.167
I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, 'Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?'8
" 'Who are you, Lord?' I asked. " 'I am Jesus of Nazareth,17 whom you are persecuting,' he replied.
My companions saw the light,18 but they did not understand the voice19 of him who was speaking to me.
" 'What shall I do, Lord?' I asked. " 'Get up,' the Lord said, 'and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.'2011
My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.2112
"A man named Ananias came to see me.22 He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there.2313
He stood beside me and said, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And at that very moment I was able to see him.
"Then he said: 'The God of our ancestors24 has chosen you to know his will and to see25 the Righteous One26 and to hear words from his mouth.
You will be his witness27 to all people of what you have seen28 and heard.
And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized29 and wash your sins away,30 calling on his name.'3117
"When I returned to Jerusalem32 and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance3318
and saw the Lord speaking to me. 'Quick!' he said. 'Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about me.'19
" 'Lord,' I replied, 'these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison34 and beat35 those who believe in you.
And when the blood of your martyra Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.'3621
"Then the Lord said to me, 'Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.' "37
The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, "Rid the earth of him!38 He's not fit to live!"3923
As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks40 and flinging dust into the air,4124
the commander ordered that Paul be taken into the barracks.42 He directed43 that he be flogged and interrogated in order to find out why the people were shouting at him like this.
As they stretched him out to flog him, Paul said to the centurion standing there, "Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn't even been found guilty?"4426
When the centurion heard this, he went to the commander and reported it. "What are you going to do?" he asked. "This man is a Roman citizen."
The commander went to Paul and asked, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?" "Yes, I am," he answered.
Then the commander said, "I had to pay a lot of money for my citizenship." "But I was born a citizen," Paul replied.
Those who were about to interrogate him45 withdrew immediately. The commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put Paul, a Roman citizen,46 in chains.47
The commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews.48 So the next day he released him49 and ordered the chief priests and all the members of the Sanhedrin50 to assemble. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them.