1 "Brothers and fathers," he said, "listen to what I have to say in my defense." 2 When they heard him speak to them in Hebrew, they became even more quiet, and he said, 3 "I am a Jew, and I was born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but was brought up here in this city, and thoroughly educated under the teaching of Gamaliel in the Law of our forefathers. I was zealous for God, just as all of you are today. 4 I persecuted this Way even to the death, and bound both men and women and put them in prison, 5 as the high priest and the whole council will bear me witness. In fact, they gave me letters to the brothers in Damascus and I went there to bind those who were there and bring them back to Jerusalem to be punished.
6 But on my way, as I was approaching Damascus, suddenly about noon, a blaze of light flashed around me from heaven, 7 and I fell upon the ground and heard a voice say to me, 'Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?'
8 I answered, 'Who are you, sir?' 'I am Jesus of Nazareth,' he said, 'whom you are persecuting.' 9 The men who were with me saw the light, but they did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me.
10 Then I said, 'What am I to do, sir?' The Lord said to me, 'Get up and go into Damascus. There you will be told of all you are destined to do.'
11 As I could not see, because of the dazzling light, my companions had to lead me by the hand, and so I reached Damascus. 12 There a man named Ananias, a devout observer of the Law, highly respected by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to see me, and standing by my side, said to me, 'Saul, my brother, regain your sight!' Then instantly I regained my sight and looked at him, 14 and he said, 'The God of our forefathers has appointed you to learn his will and to see his Righteous One and hear him speak, 15 for you shall be his witness before all men of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now, why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash out your sins, calling on his name.'
17 After I had returned to Jerusalem, one day when I was praying in the Temple, I fell into a trance, 18 and saw him saying to me, 'Make haste and leave Jerusalem at once, for they will not accept your evidence about me.'
19 And I said, 'Lord, they know that I used to go through one synagogue after another, and to imprison and flog those who believed in you, 20 and when the blood of your witness Stephen was being shed, I stood by and approved it, and took charge of the clothes of the men who killed him.'
21 But he said to me, 'Go! I will send you far away to the heathen.' "
22 They had listened to him until he said that, but then they shouted, "Kill him and get him out of the world! A creature like that ought not to be allowed to live!"
23 As they were shouting and throwing their clothes about and flinging dust into the air, 24 the colonel ordered Paul brought into the barracks, and gave directions that he should be examined under the lash, so that he might find out why they made such an outcry against him. 25 But when they had strapped him up, Paul said to the officer who was standing near, "Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen, and without giving him a trial?"
26 Upon hearing this, the officer went to the colonel and reported it. "What do you propose to do?" he said. "This man is a Roman citizen."
27 Then the colonel came to Paul and said, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?" "Yes," he said.
28 "I had to pay a large sum for my citizenship," said the colonel. "But I am a citizen by birth," said Paul.
29 Then the men who had been going to examine him immediately left him, and the colonel himself was alarmed to find that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had had him bound.
30 The next day, as he wished to find out the real reason why the Jews denounced him, he had him unbound and ordered the high priests and the whole council to assemble, and took Paul down and brought him before them.