1 "Brothers and fathers, listen to the defense that I am now making before you." 2 When they heard him speaking to them in Hebrew, they became even more quiet, and he continued: 3 "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia but raised in this city and educated at the feet of Gamaliel in the strict ways of our ancestral Law. I am as zealous for God as all of you are today. 4 I persecuted this Way, even executing people, and kept tying up both men and women and putting them in prison, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me. I also received letters from them to the brothers in Damascus, and I was going there to tie up those who were there and bring them back to Jerusalem to be punished.
6 "But while I was on my way and approaching Damascus about noon, a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed 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, Lord?' 9 "He told me, "I'm Jesus from Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.' The men who were with me saw the light but didn't understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me.
11 "The Lord told me, "Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told everything you are destined to do.' Since I could not see because of the brightness of the light, the men who were with me took me by the hand and led me into Damascus. 12 "A certain Ananias, who was a devout man with respect to the Law and who was highly regarded by all the Jews living there, 13 came to me. He stood beside me and said, "Brother Saul, receive your sight!' At that moment I could see him. 14 "Then he said, "The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear his own voice, 15 because 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, be baptized, and have your sins washed away as you call on his name.'
17 "Then I returned to Jerusalem. While I was praying in the Temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw the Lord saying to me, "Hurry up and get out of Jerusalem at once, because the people won't accept your testimony about me.'
19 "I said, "Lord, they themselves know that in every synagogue I kept imprisoning and beating those who believe in you. 20 Even when the blood of your witness Stephen was being shed, I was standing there, approving it and guarding the coats of those who were killing him.'
22 Up to this point they listened to him, but then they began to shout, "Away with such a fellow from the earth! He's not fit to go on living!"
23 While they were yelling, tossing their coats around, and throwing dirt into the air, 24 the tribune ordered Paul to be taken into the barracks and told the soldiers to beat and question him in order to find out why the people were yelling at him like this. 25 But when they had tied him up with the straps, Paul asked the centurion who was standing there, "Is it legal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn't been condemned?"
26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the tribune and told him, "What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen!"
29 Paul said, "But I was born a citizen." Immediately those who were about to examine him stepped back, and the tribune was afraid when he found out that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had tied him up.