Paul’s Message in Jerusalem
(1) Paul said, “Brothers and fathers, listen to my defense.” (2) When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.
Then Paul said, (3) “I am a Jew, who was born in the city of Tarsus of the region of Cilicia, but brought up in Jerusalem. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the Jewish law. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. (4) I persecuted the followers of this Way of Jesus to their death—arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison. (5) The high priest and the members of the Jewish governing council (the Sanhedrin) can tell you that this is true. I even received letters from them (probably signed by the high priest) to give to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
(6) “About noon, as I was traveling on the road going into Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed all around me. (7) I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul, Saul!’ Why do you persecute me?’ (8) I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ He said, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ (9) My traveling companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of Jesus who was speaking to me.
(10) I asked, ‘What should I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, because there you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’ (11) My traveling companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because I was blinded by the brightness of the light.
(12) “A man named Ananias came to visit me. He was a very devout observer of the law of Moses and highly respected by all the Jews in Damascus. (13) He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And immediately I could see again.
(14) Then he said, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear him speak. (15) You will be his witness to all people concerning what you have seen and heard. (16) What are you waiting for? Get up! Be water-baptized and have your sins washed away by calling on the name of Jesus.‘
(17) “When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple courts, I had a vision (18) and saw the Lord speaking to me. He said, ‘Quick! Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your witness about me.’ (19) I said, ‘Lord, these people know that I went from synagogue to synagogue to imprison and beat those who believe in you. (20) And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was spilled, I stood there giving my full approval and guarding the clothes of those who killed him.’
(21) “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go, I am sending you far away to the nations.’ “(22) The crowd listened to Paul until he said this. Then they shouted in a loud voice, “Kill him! He’s not worthy to live on the earth!” (23) As they were shouting and throwing off their garments (outer cloaks) and tossing dirt into the air, (24) the Roman commander ordered that Paul be taken into the military barracks. He ordered that Paul be whipped (flogged) and questioned to find out why the people were shouting at him like this. (25) As they stretched out Paul’s body to flog him, he said to a Roman soldier standing there, “Is it legal for you to flog a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been found guilty?”
(26) When the soldier heard this, he went to the Roman commander and told him what Paul had said. The soldier said, “What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen.” (27) The commander went to Paul and asked him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” Paul said, “Yes, I am.” (28) Then the commander said, “I paid a lot of money for my Roman citizenship.” And Paul said, “But I was born a Roman citizen.” (29) Those who were about to question him immediately stepped back. The Roman commander was shocked and was afraid because he had put Paul—a Roman citizen—in chains.
(30) The commander wanted to find out exactly why Paul was being accused by the Jews. So the next day he released him and ordered the chief priests and the members of the Jewish governing council (the Sanhedrin) to meet. Then he brought Paul and had him stand before them.