ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
“Brothers and fathers, listen to what I have to say to you in my defence.”
When they heard him speaking to them in Hebrew,
they became more quiet. So he went on.
“I am a Jew,
born in Tarsus in Cilicia,
but brought up here in this city where I was educated in the school of Gamaliel,
according to the strict observance of the Law.
And I was dedicated to God’s service,
as are all of you today.
As for this way, I persecuted it to the point of death and arrested its followers,
both men and women,
throwing them into prison.
The High Priest and the whole Council of elders can bear witness to this.
From them I received letters for the Jewish brothers in Damascus
and I set out to arrest those who were there
and bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment.
But as I was travelling along,
at about noon a great light from the sky suddenly flashed about me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me:
‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’
‘Who are you, Lord?’
And he said to me:
‘I am Jesus the Nazarean whom you persecute.’
The men who were with me saw the light,
but they did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me.
‘What shall I do, Lord?’
And the Lord replied:
‘Get up and go to Damascus;
there you will be told all that you are destined to do.’
Yet the brightness of that light had blinded me
and so I was led by the hand into Damascus by my companions.
There a certain Ananias came to me.
He was a devout observer of the Law and well spoken of by all the Jews who were living there.
As he stood by me, he said:
recover your sight.’
At that moment I could see and I looked at him. He then said,
‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will,
to see the Just One
and to hear the words from his mouth.
From now on you shall be his witness before all the pagan peoples
and tell them all that you have seen and heard.
And now, why delay?
Get up and be baptised
and have your sins washed away by calling upon his Name.’
On my return to Jerusalem I was praying in the Temple,
when I fell into a trance and saw him. He spoke to me:
‘Get ready to leave Jerusalem without delay,
because they will not accept your testimony about me.’
they know well that I imprisoned those who believed in you
and had them beaten in every synagogue,
and while the blood of your witness Stephen was being poured out,
I stood by and approved it and guarded the cloaks of his murderers.’
Then he said to me:
‘Go, for I am sending you far away to the pagan nations.'”
Up to this point the crowd listened to Paul,
but on hearing the last words, they began to shout,
He does not deserve to live!”
They were screaming and waving their cloaks and throwing dust into the air.
So the commander ordered Paul to be brought inside the fortress and questioned after flogging,
to find out why they made such an outcry against him.
But when the soldiers had strapped him down,
Paul said to the officer standing there,
“Is it legal to flog a Roman citizen without a trial?”
On hearing this the officer went to the commander and said,
“What are you doing?
That man is a Roman citizen.”
So the commander came and asked him,
“Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes,” answered Paul.
The commander then said,
“It cost me a large sum of money to become a Roman citizen.”
“I am one by birth.”
Then those who were about to question him backed away,
and the commander himself was alarmed when he realised that he had put a Roman citizen in chains.
The next day the commander wanted to know for certain
the charges the Jews were making against Paul.
So he released him from prison and called together the High Priest and the whole Council;
and they brought Paul down and made him stand before them.