Acts 26:1-32 - Paul Makes His Defense Before King Agrippa
1 Turning to Paul, Agrippa said: "You are at liberty to speak for yourself." Then Paul stretched out his hand and began his defense. 2 "I have been congratulating myself, King Agrippa," he said, "that it is before you that I have to make my defense to-day, with regard to all the charges brought against me by Jews, 3 Especially as you are so well-versed in all the customs and questions of the Jewish world. I beg you therefore to give me a patient hearing.
4 My life, then, from youth upwards, was passed, from the very first, among my own nation, and in Jerusalem, and is within the knowledge of all Jews; 5 And they have always known--if they choose to give evidence- -that, in accordance with the very strictest form of our religion, I lived a true Pharisee. 6 Even now, it is because of my hope in the promise given by God to our ancestors that I stand here on my trial-- 7 A promise which our Twelve Tribes, by earnest service night and day, hope to see fulfilled. It is for this hope, your Majesty, that I am accused--and by Jews themselves! 8 Why do you all hold it incredible that God should raise the dead? 9 I myself, it is true, once thought it my duty to oppose in every way the Name of Jesus of Nazareth; 10 And I actually did so at Jerusalem. Acting on the authority of the Chief Priests, I myself threw many of the People of Christ into prison, and, when it was proposed to put them to death, I gave my vote for it. 11 Time after time, in every Synagogue, I tried by punishments to force them to blaspheme. So frantic was I against them, that I pursued them even to towns beyond our borders.
12 It was while I was traveling to Damascus on an errand of this kind, entrusted with full powers by the Chief Priests, 13 That at mid-day, your Majesty, I saw right in my path, coming from the heavens, a light brighter than the glare of the sun, which shone all round me and those traveling with me. 14 We all fell to the ground, and then I heard a voice saying to me in Hebrew-- 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? By kicking against the goad you are punishing yourself.'
15 'Who are you, Lord?' I asked. And the Lord said: "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; 16 But get up and stand upright; for I have appeared to you in order to appoint you a servant and a witness of those revelations of me which you have already had, and of those in which I shall yet appear to you, 17 Since I am choosing you out from your own people and from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God; so that they may receive pardon for their sins, and a place among those who have become God's People, by faith in me.'
19 After that, King Agrippa, I did not fail to obey the heavenly vision; 20 On the contrary, first to those at Damascus and Jerusalem, and then through the whole of Judea, and to the Gentiles as well, I began to preach repentance and conversion to God, and a life befitting that repentance. 21 This is why the Jews seized me in the Temple, and made attempts upon my life. 22 However I have received help from God to this very day, and so stand here, and bear my testimony to high and low alike--without adding a word to what the Prophets, as well as Moses, declared should happen-- 23 That the Christ must suffer, and that, by rising from the dead, he was destined to be the first to bring news of Light, not only to our nation, but also to the Gentiles."
24 While Paul was making this defense, Festus called out loudly: "You are mad, Paul; your great learning is driving you mad."
25 "I am not mad, your Excellency," he replied; "on the contrary, the statements that I am making are true and sober. 26 Indeed, the King knows about these matters, so I speak before him without constraint. I am sure that there is nothing whatever of what I have been telling him that has escaped his attention; for all this has not been done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know you do."
28 But Agrippa said to Paul: "You are soon trying to make a Christian of me!"
29 "Whether it is soon or late," answered Paul, "I would to God that not only you, but all who are listening to me, might to-day become just what I am myself--except for these chains!"
30 Then the King rose, with the Governor and Bernice and those who had been sitting with them, 31 And, after retiring, discussed the case among themselves. "There is nothing," they said, "deserving death or imprisonment in this man's conduct";
32 And, speaking to Festus, Agrippa added: "The man might have been discharged, if he had not appealed to the Emperor."