1 "Brothers and fathers, listen to the defence I now make before you." 2 When they heard him addressing them in Hebrew they were all the more quiet. So he went on. 3 "I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel in all the strictness of our ancestral Law, ardent for God as you all are to-day. 4 I persecuted this Way of religion to the death, chaining and imprisoning both men and women, 5 as the high priest and all the council of elders can testify. It was from them that I got letters to the brotherhood at Damascus, and then journeyed thither to bind those who had gathered there and bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment.
6 Now as I neared Damascus on my journey, suddenly about noon a brilliant light from heaven flashed round me. 7 I dropped to the earth and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?'
8 'Who are you?' I asked. He said to me, 'I am Jesus the Nazarene, and you are persecuting me.' 9 (My companions saw the light, but they did not hear the voice of him who talked to me.)
10 I said, 'What am I to do?' And the Lord said to me, 'Get up and make your way into Damascus; there?you shall be told about all you are destined to do.'
11 As I could not see owing to the dazzling glare of that light,. my companions took my hand and so I reached Damascus. 12 Then a certain Ananias, a devout man in the Law, who had a good reputation among all the Jewish inhabitants, 13 came to me and standing beside me said, 'Saul, my brother, regain your sight!' The same moment I regained my sight and looked up at him. 14 Then he said, 'The God of our fathers has appointed you to know his will, to see the Just One, and to hear him speak with his own lips. 15 For you are to be a witness for him before all men, a witness of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now, why do you wait? Get up and be baptized and wash away your sins, invoking his name.'
17 When I returned to Jerusalem, it happened that while I was praying in the temple I fell into a trance 18 and saw Him saying to me, 'Make haste, leave Jerusalem quickly, for they will not accept your evidence about me.'
19 'But, Lord,' I said, 'they surely know it was I who imprisoned and flogged those who believed in you throughout the synagogues, 20 and that I stood and approved when the blood of your martyr Stephen was being shed, taking charge of the clothes of his murderers!'
21 But he said to me, 'Go; I will send you afar to the Gentiles ????'"
22 Till he said that, they had listened to him. But at that they shouted, "Away with such a creature from the earth! He is not fit to live!"
23 They yelled and threw their clothes into the air and flung dust about, 24 till the commander ordered him to be taken inside the barracks and examined under the lash, so as to find out why the people shouted at him in this way. 25 They had strapped him up, when Paul said to the officer who was standing by, "Are you allowed to scourge a Roman citizen ??and to scourge him without a trial?"
26 When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and said to him, "What are you going to do? This man is a Roman citizen."
27 So the commander went to him and said, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?" "Yes," he said.
28 The commander replied, "I had to pay a large sum for this citizenship." "But I was born a citizen," said Paul.
29 Then those who were to have examined him left him at once alone; even the commander was alarmed to find that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him.
30 Next day, as he was anxious to find out the real reason why the Jews accused him, he unbound him, ordered the high priests and all the Sanhedrin to meet, and brought Paul down, placing him in front of them.