Paul Speaks to the People
1 Paul said, “My brothers and fathers, listen to me! I will make my defense to you.”
2 When the Jews heard Paul speaking Aramaic, they became very quiet. Then Paul said,
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in the country of Cilicia. I grew up in this city. I was a student of Gamaliel,*
who carefully taught me everything about the law of our fathers. I was very serious about serving God, the same as all of you here today. 4
I persecuted the people who followed the Way. Some of them were killed because of me. I arrested men and women and put them in jail.
5 “The high priest and the whole council of older Jewish leaders can tell you that this is true. One time these leaders gave me some letters. The letters were to the Jewish brothers in the city of Damascus. I was going there to arrest the followers of Jesus and bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment.
Paul Tells About His Conversion
6 “But something happened to me on my way to Damascus. It was about noon when I came close to Damascus. Suddenly a bright light from heaven shined all around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
8 “I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The voice said, ‘I am Jesus from Nazareth, the one you are persecuting.’ 9 The men who were with me did not understand the voice, but they saw the light.
10 “I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ The Lord answered, ‘Get up and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that I have planned for you to do.’ 11 I could not see, because the bright light had made me blind. So the men led me into Damascus.
“In Damascus a man named Ananias†
came to me. He was a man who was devoted to God and obeyed the Law of Moses. All the Jews who lived there respected him. 13
He came to me and said, ‘Saul, my brother, look up and see again!’ Immediately I was able to see him.
“Ananias told me, ‘The God of our fathers chose you long ago to know his plan. He chose you to see the Righteous One and to hear words from him. 15
You will be his witness to all people. You will tell them what you have seen and heard. 16
Now, don’t wait any longer. Get up, be baptized and wash away your sins, trusting in Jesus to save you.‡
17 “Later, I came back to Jerusalem. I was praying in the Temple area, and I saw a vision. 18 I saw Jesus, and he said to me, ‘Hurry and leave Jerusalem now! The people here will not accept the truth you tell them about me.’
19 “I said, ‘But, Lord, the people know that I was the one who put the believers in jail and beat them. I went through all the synagogues to find and arrest the people who believe in you. 20 The people also know that I was there when Stephen, your witness, was killed. I stood there and agreed that they should kill him. I even held the coats of the men who were killing him!’
21 “But Jesus said to me, ‘Leave now. I will send you far away to the non-Jewish people.’ ”
The people stopped listening when Paul said this last thing. They all shouted, “Get rid of this man! He doesn’t deserve to live.” 23
They kept on shouting, ripping off their clothes and throwing dust into the air.§ 24
Then the commander told the soldiers to take Paul into the army building and beat him. He wanted to make Paul tell why the people were shouting against him like this. 25
So the soldiers were tying Paul, preparing to beat him. But he said to an army officer there, “Do you have the right to beat a Roman citizen*
who has not been proven guilty?”
26 When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and told him about it. The officer said, “Do you know what you are doing? This man is a Roman citizen!”
27 The commander came to Paul and said, “Tell me, are you really a Roman citizen?”
He answered, “Yes.”
28 The commander said, “I paid a lot of money to become a Roman citizen.”
But Paul said, “I was born a citizen.”
29 The men who were preparing to question Paul moved away from him immediately. The commander was afraid because he had already put Paul in chains, and he was a Roman citizen.
Paul Speaks to the Jewish Leaders
30 The next day the commander decided to learn why the Jews were accusing Paul. So he ordered the leading priests and the whole high council to meet together. He had Paul’s chains taken off and had him brought in to face the council.