Atos 26

1 Agrippa said to Paul, »You have permission to speak for yourself.« Then Paul stretched out his hand and began his defense:

2 »I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews,

3 because you are especially familiar with all customs and controversies of the Jews; therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently.

4 So then, all the Jews know my manner of life from my youth up, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation and at Jerusalem.

5 They have known about me for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our religion.

6 And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers;

7 the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day. And for this hope, O King, I am being accused by Jews.

8 Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?

9 I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

10 And that is just what I did in Jerusalem; I not only shut up many of the saints in prison, by authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them.

11 And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

12 »On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests.

13 At midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me.

14 And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

15 And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.

16 But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness to the things which you have seen of me, and also to the things in which I will appear to you;

17 rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you,

18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

19 »So, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision,

20 but declared first to those at Damascus, then at Jerusalem and throughout all the country of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God and perform deeds worthy of their repentance.

21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me.

22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would happen:

23 that the Christ must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to the people and to the Gentiles.«

24 And as he was saying this in his defense, Festus said in a loud voice, »Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad.«

25 But Paul said, »I am not mad, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking the sober truth.

26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak freely; for I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this was not done in a corner.

27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do.«

28 And Agrippa said to Paul, »In a short time you think to persuade me to become a Christian!«

29 And Paul said, »Whether in a short or a long time, I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.«

30 The king rose and the governor and Bernice, and those who were sitting with them,

31 and when they had gone aside, they began talking to one another, saying, »This man is not doing anything worthy of death or imprisonment.«

32 And Agrippa said to Festus, »This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.«