"Brethren and fathers," he said, "listen to my defence which I now make before you."
And on hearing him address them in Hebrew, they kept all the more quiet; and he said,
"I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I was carefully trained at the feet of Gamaliel in the Law of our forefathers, and, like all of you to-day, was zealous for God.
I persecuted to death this new faith, continually binding both men and women and throwing them into prison;
as the High Priest also and all the Elders can bear me witness. It was, too, from them that I received letters to the brethren in Damascus, and I was already on my way to Damascus, intending to bring those also who had fled there, in chains to Jerusalem, to be punished.
"But on my way, when I was now not far from Damascus, about noon a sudden blaze of light from Heaven shone round me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, "`Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?'
"`Who art thou, Lord?' I asked. "`I am Jesus, the Nazarene,' He replied, `whom you are persecuting.'
"Now the men who were with me, though they saw the light, did not hear the words of Him who spoke to me.
And I asked, "`What am I to do, Lord?' "And the Lord said to me, "`Rise, and go into Damascus. There you shall be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.'
"And as I could not see because the light had been so dazzling, those who were with me had to lead me by the arm, and so I came to Damascus.
"And a certain Ananias, a pious man who obeyed the Law and bore a good character with all the Jews of the city,
came to me and standing at my side said, "`Brother Saul, recover your sight.' "I instantly regained my sight and looked up at him.
Then he said, `The God of our forefathers has appointed you to know His will, and to see the righteous One and hear Him speak.
For you shall be a witness for Him, to all men, of what you have seen and heard.
And now why delay? Rise, get yourself baptized, and wash off your sins, calling upon His name.'
"After my return to Jerusalem, and while praying in the Temple, I fell into a trance.
I saw Jesus, and He said to me, "`Make haste and leave Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.'
"`Lord,' I replied, `they themselves well know how active I was in imprisoning, and in flogging in synagogue after synagogue those who believe in Thee;
and when they were shedding the blood of Stephen, Thy witness, I was standing by, fully approving of it, and I held the clothes of those who were killing him.'
"`Go,' He replied; `I will send you as an Apostle to nations far away.'"
Until they heard this last statement the people listened to Paul, but now with a roar of disapproval they cried out, "Away with such a fellow from the earth! He ought not to be allowed to live."
And when they continued their furious shouts, throwing their clothes into the air and flinging dust about,
the Tribune ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and be examined by flogging, in order to ascertain the reason why they thus cried out against him.
But, when they had tied him up with the straps, Paul said to the Captain who stood by, "Does the Law permit you to flog a Roman citizen--and one too who is uncondemned?"
On hearing this question, the Captain went to report the matter to the Tribune. "What are you intending to do?" he said. "This man is a Roman citizen."
So the Tribune came to Paul and asked him, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?" "Yes," he said.
"I paid a large sum for my citizenship," said the Tribune. "But I was born free," said Paul.
So the men who had been on the point of putting him under torture immediately left him. And the Tribune, too, was frightened when he learnt that Paul was a Roman citizen, for he had had him bound.
The next day, wishing to know exactly what charge was being brought against him by the Jews, the Tribune ordered his chains to be removed; and, having sent word to the High Priests and all the Sanhedrin to assemble, he brought Paul down and made him stand before them.