Atos 22

1 »Men, brothers and fathers, hear my defense to you now.«

2 They heard him speak in the Hebrew tongue and became quiet.

3 »I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up here in Jerusalem as a student of Gamaliel. I received instruction in the Law of our ancestors and was just as zealous for God as are all of you.

4 »I persecuted the people who followed this Way to the point of death. I arrested men and women and threw them into prison.

5 »The High Priest and the whole Council can prove that I am telling the truth. I received letters from them written to fellow Jews in Damascus, so I went there to arrest these people and bring them back in chains to Jerusalem to be punished.

6 »While I was traveling I came near Damascus about midday. Suddenly a bright light from the sky flashed around me.

7 »I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me: ‘Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?’

8 »Who are you, Lord?« I asked. »I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you persecute,« he said to me.

9 »Everyone with me saw the light. They did not hear the voice of the one speaking to me.

10 »I asked: What shall I do, Lord? He said: ‘Go to Damascus. There you will be told what God wants you to do.’

11 »I was blind because of the bright light. So my companions took me by the hand and led me to Damascus.

12 »A man named Ananias was in that city. He is a religious man who obeyed our Law and was highly respected by all the Jews living there.

13 »He came and stood by me, and said: ‘Brother Saul, see again!’ At that very moment I saw again and looked at him.

14 »He said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will. You are to see his righteous servant, and to hear him speak with his own voice.

15 ‘You will be a witness for him to tell everyone what you have seen and heard.

16 ‘Wait no longer! Get up and be baptized and have your sins washed away by praying to him.’

17 »I went back to Jerusalem. Then I have a vision while I prayed in the temple.

18 »I saw the Lord. He said to me: ‘Hurry and leave Jerusalem because the people here will not accept your witness about me.’

19 »I answered, ‘Lord they know very well that I went to the synagogues and arrested and beat those who believe in you.

20 ‘»When your witness Stephen was put to death, I was there, approving of his murder and taking care of the coats of his murderers.’«

21 »The Lord said: ‘Go! I will send you far away to the people of the nations.’

22 The people listened to Paul until he said this. Then they shouted at the top of their voices: »Away with him! Kill him! He is not fit to live!«

23 They were screaming, throwing off their clothes, and throwing dust up in the air.

24 The Roman commander ordered his men to take Paul into the barracks. He told them to whip him in order to find out why the Jews were screaming like this against him.

25 When they tied him up to be whipped Paul said to the officer standing there, »Is it lawful for you to whip a Roman citizen who has not been tried for a crime?«

26 When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and asked him: »What are you doing? That man is a Roman citizen!«

27 The commander went to Paul and asked him: »Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?« »Yes,« answered Paul.

28 The commander said: »I became one by paying a large amount of money.« »I am one by birth,« Paul answered.

29 At once the men who were going to question Paul drew back from him. The commander was frightened when he found out that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had put him in chains.

30 The commander wanted to find out for sure what the Jews were accusing Paul of. The next day he had Paul’s chains taken off and ordered the chief priests and the whole Council to meet. Then he took Paul and made him stand before them.