1 “My friends and leaders of our nation, listen as I explain what happened!” 2 When the crowd heard Paul speak to them in Aramaic, they became even quieter. Then Paul said:
3 I am a Jew, born in the city of Tarsus in Cilicia. But I grew up here in Jerusalem where I was a student of Gamaliel and was taught to follow every single law of our ancestors. In fact, I was just as eager to obey God as any of you are today.
4 I made trouble for everyone who followed the Lord's Way, and I even had some of them killed. I had others arrested and put in jail. I didn't care if they were men or women. 5 The high priest and all the council members can tell you this is true. They even gave me letters to the Jewish leaders in Damascus, so that I could arrest people there and bring them to Jerusalem to be punished.
6 One day about noon I was getting close to Damascus, when a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice asking, “Saul, Saul, why are you so cruel to me?”
8 “Who are you?” I answered.
The Lord replied, “I am Jesus from Nazareth! I am the one you are so cruel to.” 9 Those who were traveling with me saw the light, but did not hear the voice.
10 I asked, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
Then he told me, “Get up and go to Damascus. When you get there, you will be told what to do.” 11 The light had been so bright that I couldn't see. And the others had to lead me by the hand to Damascus.
12 In that city there was a man named Ananias, who faithfully obeyed the Law of Moses and was well liked by all the Jewish people living there. 13 He came to me and said, “Saul, my friend, you can now see again!”
At once I could see. 14 Then Ananias told me, “The God that our ancestors worshiped has chosen you to know what he wants done. He has chosen you to see the One Who Obeys God and to hear his voice. 15 You must tell everyone what you have seen and heard. 16 What are you waiting for? Get up! Be baptized, and wash away your sins by praying to the Lord.”
17 After this I returned to Jerusalem and went to the temple to pray. There I had a vision 18 of the Lord who said to me, “Hurry and leave Jerusalem! The people won't listen to what you say about me.”
19 I replied, “Lord, they know that in many of our synagogues I arrested and beat people who had faith in you. 20 Stephen was killed because he spoke for you, and I stood there and cheered them on. I even guarded the clothes of the men who murdered him.”
21 But the Lord told me to go, and he promised to send me far away to the Gentiles.
22 The crowd listened until Paul said this. Then they started shouting, “Get rid of this man! He doesn't deserve to live.” 23 They kept shouting. They waved their clothes around and threw dust into the air.
Paul and the Roman Army Commander
24 The Roman commander ordered Paul to be taken into the fortress and beaten with a whip. He did this to find out why the people were screaming at Paul.
25 While the soldiers were tying Paul up to be beaten, he asked the officer standing there, “Is it legal to beat a Roman citizen before he has been tried in court?”
26 When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and said, “What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen!”
27 The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes,” Paul answered.
28 The commander then said, “I paid a lot of money to become a Roman citizen.”
But Paul replied, “I was born a Roman citizen.”
29 The men who were about to beat and question Paul quickly backed off. And the commander himself was frightened when he realized that he had put a Roman citizen in chains.
Paul Is Tried by the Council
30 The next day the commander wanted to know the real reason why the Jewish leaders had brought charges against Paul. So he had Paul's chains removed, and he ordered the chief priests and the whole council to meet. Then he had Paul led in and made him stand in front of them.