The Bible – New Testament
1 “My brothers and fathers, listen to what I am about to say to you in my defense.”
When they heard him addressing them in Hebrew they became all the more quiet. And he continued,
“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city. At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law and was zealous for God, just as all of you are today.
I persecuted this Way to death, binding both men and women and delivering them to prison.
Even the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify on my behalf. For from them I even received letters to the brothers and set out for Damascus to bring back to Jerusalem in chains for punishment those there as well.
“On that journey as I drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from the sky suddenly shone around me.
I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
I replied, ‘Who are you, sir?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazorean whom you are persecuting.’
My companions saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who spoke to me.
I asked, ‘What shall I do, sir?’ The Lord answered me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told about everything appointed for you to do.’
Since I could see nothing because of the brightness of that light, I was led by hand by my companions and entered Damascus.
“A certain Ananias, a devout observer of the law, and highly spoken of by all the Jews who lived there,
came to me and stood there and said, ‘Saul, my brother, regain your sight.’ And at that very moment I regained my sight and saw him.
Then he said, ‘The God of our ancestors designated you to know his will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear the sound of his voice;
for you will be his witness 2 before all to what you have seen and heard.
Now, why delay? Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away, calling upon his name.’
“After I had returned to Jerusalem and while I was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance
and saw the Lord saying to me, ‘Hurry, leave Jerusalem at once, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’
But I replied, ‘Lord, they themselves know that from synagogue to synagogue I used to imprison and beat those who believed in you.
And when the blood of your witness Stephen was being shed, I myself stood by giving my approval and keeping guard over the cloaks of his murderers.’
Then he said to me, ‘Go, I shall send you far away to the Gentiles.'” 3
They listened to him until he said this, but then they raised their voices and shouted, “Take such a one as this away from the earth. It is not right that he should live.” 4
And as they were yelling and throwing off their cloaks and flinging dust into the air,
the cohort commander ordered him to be brought into the compound and gave instruction that he be interrogated under the lash to determine the reason why they were making such an outcry against him.
But when they had stretched him out for the whips, Paul said to the centurion on duty, “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman citizen and has not been tried?” 5
When the centurion heard this, he went to the cohort commander and reported it, saying, “What are you going to do? This man is a Roman citizen.”
Then the commander came and said to him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” “Yes,” he answered.
The commander replied, “I acquired this citizenship for a large sum of money.” Paul said, “But I was born one.”
At once those who were going to interrogate him backed away from him, and the commander became alarmed when he realized that he was a Roman citizen and that he had had him bound.
The next day, wishing to determine the truth about why he was being accused by the Jews, he freed him and ordered the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin to convene. Then he brought Paul down and made him stand before them.
1 [1-21] Paul’s first defense speech is presented to the Jerusalem crowds. Luke here presents Paul as a devout Jew (⇒ Acts 22:3) and zealous persecutor of the Christian community (⇒ Acts 22:4-5), and then recounts the conversion of Paul for the second time in Acts (see the note on ⇒ Acts 9:1-19).
2  His witness: like the Galilean followers during the historical ministry of Jesus, Paul too, through his experience of the risen Christ, is to be a witness to the resurrection (compare ⇒ Acts 1:8; ⇒ 10:39-41; ⇒ Luke 24:48).
3  Paul endeavors to explain that his position on the law has not been identical with that of his audience because it has been his prophetic mission to preach to the Gentiles to whom the law was not addressed and who had no faith in it as a way of salvation.
4  Paul’s suggestion that his prophetic mission to the Gentiles did not involve his imposing the law on them provokes the same opposition as occurred in Pisidian Antioch (⇒ Acts 13:45).
5  Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman citizen and has not been tried?: see the note on ⇒ Acts 16:37.