Agrippa said to Paul, "It is permitted for you to speak for yourself." Then Paul stretched out his hand and began his defense:
"I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa, that today I am going to make a defense before you about everything I am accused of by the Jews,
especially since you are an expert in all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.
"All the Jews know my way of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem.
They had previously known me for quite some time, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I lived as a Pharisee.
And now I stand on trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers,
[the promise] our 12 tribes hope to attain as they earnestly serve Him night and day. Because of this hope I am being accused by the Jews, O king!
Why is it considered incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?
In fact, I myself supposed it was necessary to do many things in opposition to the name of Jesus the Nazarene.
This I actually did in Jerusalem, and I locked up many of the saints in prison, since I had received authority for that from the chief priests. When they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.
In all the synagogues I often tried to make them blaspheme by punishing them. Being greatly enraged at them, I even pursued them to foreign cities.
"Under these circumstances I was traveling to Damascus with authority and a commission from the chief priests.
At midday, while on the road, O king, I saw a light from heaven brighter than the sun, shining around me and those traveling with me.
When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me in the Hebrew language, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.'
"But I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' "And the Lord replied: 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
But get up and stand on your feet. For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and a witness of things you have seen, and of things in which I will appear to you.
I will rescue you from the people and from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you,
to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'
"Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.
Instead, I preached to those in Damascus first, and to those in Jerusalem and in all the region of Judea, and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works worthy of repentance.
For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple complex and were trying to kill me.
Since I have obtained help that comes from God, to this day I stand and testify to both small and great, saying nothing else than what the prophets and Moses said would take place-
that the Messiah must suffer, and that as the first to rise from the dead, He would proclaim light to our people and to the Gentiles."
As he was making his defense this way, Festus exclaimed in a loud voice, "You're out of your mind, Paul! Too much study is driving you mad!"
But Paul replied, "I'm not out of my mind, most excellent Festus. On the contrary, I'm speaking words of truth and good judgment.
For the king knows about these matters. It is to him I am actually speaking boldly. For I'm not convinced that any of these things escapes his notice, since this was not done in a corner!
King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you believe."
Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Are you going to persuade me to become a Christian so easily?"
"I wish before God," replied Paul, "that whether easily or with difficulty, not only you but all who listen to me today might become as I am-except for these chains."
So the king, the governor, Bernice, and those sitting with them got up,
and when they had left they talked with each other and said, "This man is doing nothing that deserves death or chains."
Then Agrippa said to Festus, "This man could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar."
Holman Christian Standard Bible ® Copyright © 2003, 2002, 2000, 1999 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.