1 "Brothers and fathers, listen to the defense I want to make to you." 2 And when they heard him speaking in the Hebrew language, they listened all the more quietly. So, he continued, 3 "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus, in Cilicia, but raised [here] in this city [i.e., Jerusalem]. [I was] instructed by Gamaliel [i.e., a renowned Jewish rabbi of the time] according to the strictest methods of observing the law of our forefathers. [I was very] eager to serve God, just as all of you are here today. 4 And I persecuted this 'Way' [even to the point of] putting people to death. [I had] both men and women bound [in chains] and locked up in prisons. 5 The head priest can also verify all this, and so can the body of [Jewish] elders. They furnished me with letters to our fellow-Jews in Damascus, to which I also traveled to bring people back here to Jerusalem, bound in chains to be punished.
6 "And then it suddenly happened, about noon, as I was traveling and got close to Damascus, that this brilliant light from the sky flashed 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 answered, 'Who are you, sir?' And the voice answered me, 'I am Jesus from Nazareth, the One you are persecuting.' 9 Those who accompanied me saw the light clearly, but did not hear [i.e., understand] the voice of the one speaking to me.
10 Then I asked, 'What am I to do, Lord?' And the Lord replied to me, 'Get up, go into Damascus and there you will be told everything [I have] appointed for you to do.'
11 And since I could not see [anything] because of the brilliance of the light, I had to be led by the hand of those with me into Damascus. 12 "[Then] Ananias, a man who was devoted to [observing] the law of Moses and who had a good reputation among all the Jews who lived there, 13 came and stood beside me and said, 'Brother Saul, regain your sight.' And at that very moment I looked at him [fully able to see again]. 14 And he said [to me], 'The God of our forefathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One [i.e., Jesus], and to hear His voice [speaking to you]. 15 For you will be His witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. 16 So now, what are you waiting for? Get up and be immersed [into Christ], and have your sins washed away as you appeal to His name [i.e., to Christ's authority].'
17 "And it happened that when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the Temple, I fell into a trance [i.e., a semi-conscious vision-like state]. 18 And I saw [and heard] the Lord saying to me, 'Hurry up, get out of Jerusalem quickly, because the people [here] will reject your testimony about me.'
19 And I replied, 'Lord, they know very well that I am [the one] who imprisoned and beat the believers [who assembled] in every synagogue, 20 and when your witness Stephen was killed, I stood there, approving [of it] and [even] guarding the clothing of those who stoned him to death.'
21 Then the Lord said to me, 'Go, for I will send you far away from here to the Gentiles.' "
22 The people had listened to Paul speaking up to this point [i.e., until he said the word "Gentiles"], then they raised their voices and shouted, "Do away with such a person from the earth; it is not right for him to live."
23 And while the people shouted, waved around [torn] clothing and threw dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered Paul to be brought to headquarters and requested that he be interrogated by means of a flogging, in order to learn the reason why people were shouting against him. 25 Just as they were tying him up [in preparation] for the flogging, Paul said to the officer nearby, "Is it lawful for you to whip a Roman [citizen] before he has been [legally] condemned?"
26 When the officer heard this, he [immediately] went and told the commander, saying, "What are you going to do? For this man is a Roman citizen."
27 Then the commander came and said to him, "Tell me, are you [really] a Roman citizen?" Paul said, "Yes."
28 The commander answered, "It cost me a large sum of money to obtain this [right of] citizenship." Paul replied, "But I am a Roman citizen by birth."
29 Then those who were about to interrogate Paul [with whips] immediately left him, and the commander also became fearful when he realized that he had chained a Roman citizen [illegally].
30 But the next day the commander released Paul [from the chains] because he wanted to know what specific charges the Jews has against him. So, he ordered the leading priests and the entire [Jewish] Council to assemble, then brought Paul down and placed him in front of them.