"Brothers and fathers," Paul began, "listen to me now. I want to speak up for myself."
When they heard that he was speaking to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet. Then Paul said,
"I am a Jew. I was born in Tarsus in Cilicia. But I grew up here in Jerusalem. I was well trained by Gamaliel in the law of our people. I wanted to serve God as much as any of you do today.
I hurt the followers of the Way of Jesus. I sent many of them to their death. I arrested men and women. I threw them into prison.
The high priest and the whole Council can give witness to this. I even had some official letters they had written to their friends in Damascus. So I went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
"I had almost reached Damascus. About noon a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice speak to me. 'Saul! Saul!' it said. 'Why are you opposing me?'
" 'Who are you, Lord?' I asked. " 'I am Jesus of Nazareth,' he replied. 'I am the one you are opposing.'
"The light was seen by my companions. But they didn't understand the voice of the one speaking to me.
" 'What should I do, Lord?' I asked. " 'Get up,' the Lord said. 'Go into Damascus. There you will be told everything you have been given to do.'
The brightness of the light had blinded me. So my companions led me by the hand into Damascus.
"A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a godly Jew who obeyed the law. All the Jews living there respected him very much.
He stood beside me and said, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' At that very moment I was able to see him.
"Then he said, 'The God of our people has chosen you. He wanted to tell you his plans for you. You have seen the Blameless One. You have heard words from his mouth.
Now you will give witness to all people about what you have seen and heard.
So what are you waiting for? Get up and call on his name. Be baptized. Have your sins washed away.'
"I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple. Then it seemed to me that I was dreaming.
I saw the Lord speaking to me. 'Quick!' he said. 'Leave Jerusalem at once. These people will not accept your witness about me.'
" 'Lord,' I replied, 'these people know what I used to do. I went from one synagogue to another and put believers in prison. I also beat them.
Stephen was a man who gave witness to others about you. I stood there when he was killed. I had agreed that he should die. I even guarded the coats of those who were killing him.'
"Then the Lord said to me, 'Go. I will send you far away to people who are not Jews.' "