1 “Brother and fathers,” he said, “Please listen as I give my defense before you.”
2 When they heard him speaking to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.
3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia,” he began. “However, I was brought up here in this city, and sat at the feet of Gamaliel. I was taught to strictly observe the law of our fathers. I was zealous for God, just like all of you here today,
4 and I persecuted the people of this Way—having them put to death, and imprisoning both men and women.
5 As the high priest and the council of the elders can also verify, I received from them letters of authorization addressed to the Jewish brothers in Damascus, and went there to arrest these people and bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
6 At around noon, while I was on my way and approaching Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven shone all around me.
7 I fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
8 ‘Who are you, Lord?’ I answered.
‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, the one you are persecuting,’ he told me.
9 Those who were traveling with me did see the light, but they didn't hear the voice that spoke to me.
10 ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked.
The Lord told me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you'll be told everything that's arranged for you to do.’
11 Since I couldn't see because of the brightness of the light, those who were with me led me by the hand into Damascus.
12 There a man called Ananias came to see me. He was a religious man who observed the law, and was highly respected by the Jews who lived in the town.
13 He stood in front of me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive back your sight.’ At that very moment I could see again, and I looked at him.
14 He told me, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know his will, to see the one who is truly good and right, and to listen to what he has to say to you.
15 You will testify for him to everyone about what you have seen and heard. So what are you waiting for?
16 Get up, be baptized, and wash away your sins as you call on his name.’
17 I returned to Jerusalem, and as I was praying in the Temple, I fell into a trance.
18 I saw a vision of the Lord telling me, ‘Hurry! You need to leave Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept what you are telling them about me.’
19 I replied, ‘Lord, they certainly know that I went from synagogue to synagogue, beating and imprisoning those who trusted in you.
20 When Stephen was killed for testifying about you I was standing there in full agreement with those who killed him, holding their coats for them.’
21 The Lord told me, ‘Leave now, for I am sending you far away to the foreigners.’ ”
22 Up until this point they had listened to what he was saying, but then they started shouting, “Get rid of this man from the earth—he doesn't deserve to live!”
23 They screamed and tore off their coats and threw dust into the air.
24 The commander ordered Paul brought into the fortress, and gave orders for him to be interrogated by flogging so he could find out the reason people were shouting so much against Paul.
25 As they stretched him out and tied him down to flog him, Paul asked the centurion standing there, “Is it legal to flog a Roman citizen who hasn't had a trial?”
26 When the centurion heard what Paul said, he went to the commander and asked him, “What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen.”
27 The commander came, and asked Paul, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
Paul replied, “Yes I am.”
28 “I paid a lot of money to buy Roman citizenship,” said the commander.
“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.
29 Those who were about to interrogate Paul left immediately. The commander was worried when he found out that Paul was a Roman citizen because he had placed him in chains.
30 The next day, wanting to find out the reason why the Jews were accusing Paul, he had him released and taken before the chief priests and the whole council which he ordered to assemble. He had Paul brought down and placed him before them.