Paul’s Defense Before Agrippa
(1) Then Agrippa said to Paul, “I give you permission to speak in your defense.” Paul held out his hand and began his defense: (2) “King Agrippa, I am honored to stand before you to defend myself against all the accusations of the Jews, (3) and especially because you are very familiar with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore, I ask you to listen to me patiently.
(4) “The Jewish people in Jerusalem all know the way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my life in the city of Tarsus of the region of Cilicia and also in Jerusalem. (5) They have known me for a long time and can tell you, if they are willing, that I devoted myself to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee. (6) And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today. (7) This is the promise Israel’s 12 tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they zealously serve God day and night. King Agrippa, it is because of this hope that these Jews are accusing me. (8) Why should anyone consider it unbelievable that God raises the dead?
(9) “At one time, I too was convinced that I should do all that was possible to fight against the name of Jesus of Nazareth. (10) And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. With the authority of the Jewish chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and I voted to have them put to death. (11) Many times I went from synagogue to synagogue to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme against Jesus. I was so obsessed with persecuting them that I even hunted them down in foreign cities.
(12) “On one of my journeys I was going to Damascus with the full authority and commission of the Jewish chief priests. (13) King Agrippa, about noon as I was walking on the road leading into the city, I saw a light from heaven that was brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my traveling companions. (14) We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against a corrective stick.’ (15) Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. (16) Now stand up, because I have appeared to you to appoint you as my servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me in the future. (17) I will rescue you from the Jews and from the nations. I am sending you (18) to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from Satan’s power to God, so that they will receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are made holy by faith in me.’
(19) “So then, King Agrippa, I was obedient to this vision from heaven. (20) First I went and declared the gospel (good news) to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the nations. I proclaimed that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by doing good works. (21) That is why some Jews in Jerusalem grabbed me in the temple courts and tried to kill me. (22) But God has helped me to this day, so I stand here and testify to both small and great. I am saying nothing beyond what Moses and the (Old Testament) prophets said would happen—(23) that the Messiah (Christ) would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would bring the message of light to Israel and to the nations.“
(24) At this point Festus stopped Paul’s defense by shouting, “You are out of your mind, Paul! Your great learning is driving you crazy.” (25) Paul said, “I am not insane, most excellent Festus. What I am telling you is both true and rational. (26) King Agrippa, you know all these things, and I can speak freely to you. I am convinced that you have been aware of everything, because nothing has been done in secret. (27) King Agrippa, I know that you believe in the (Old Testament) prophets.” (28) Finally Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think in this short time that you can persuade me to become a Christian?” (29) Paul said, “Whether in a short time or in a long time—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today will become what I am, except for these prison chains.”
(30) King Agrippa stood up, along with governor Festus and Bernice and those sitting with them. (31) After they left the room, they said to one another, “Paul has not done anything that deserves prison or death.” (32) King Agrippa said to Festus, “Paul could have been set free if he had not appealed to the Emperor Nero in Rome.“