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,43
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 Jewish people 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 I conformed to the strictest sect9 of our religion, living as a Pharisee.106
And now it is because of my hope11 in what God has promised our ancestors12 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 King Agrippa, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me.158
Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?169
"I too was convinced17 that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose18 the name of Jesus of Nazareth.1910
And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord's people20 in prison,21 and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.2211
Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished,23 and I tried to force them to blaspheme. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.
"On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests.
About noon, King Agrippa, 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,a25'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'15
"Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?' " 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied.
16'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 and will see of me.2717I will rescue you28 from your own people and from the Gentiles.29 I am sending you to them18to 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.'3319
"So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient34 to the vision from heaven.
First to those in Damascus,35 then to those in Jerusalem36 and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles,37 I preached that they should repent38 and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.3921
That is why some Jews seized me40 in the temple courts and tried to kill me.4122
But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen42--
that the Messiah would suffer43 and, as the first to rise from the dead,44 would bring the message of light to his own people and to the Gentiles."4524
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."
"I am not insane, most excellent48 Festus," Paul replied. "What I am saying is true and reasonable.
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.
King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do."
Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?"5029
Paul replied, "Short time or long--I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains."5130
The king rose, and with him the governor and Bernice52 and those sitting with them.
After they left the room, they began saying to one another, "This man is not doing anything that deserves death or imprisonment."5332
Agrippa said to Festus, "This man could have been set free54 if he had not appealed to Caesar."55