1“My friends and leaders of our nation, listen as I explain what happened!” 2When the crowd heard Paul speak to them in Aramaic, they became even quieter. Then Paul said:
3 # Acts 5.34–39. I am a Jew, born and raised in the city of Tarsus in Cilicia. 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 # Acts 8.3; 26.9–11. I made trouble for everyone who followed the Lord's Way,#22.4 followed the Lord's Way: See the note at 9.2. 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. 5The high priest and all the council members can tell you that 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.
6One day about midday I was getting close to Damascus, when a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around me. 7I fell to the ground and heard a voice asking me, “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.” 9The men who were travelling with me saw the light, but did not hear the voice.
10I 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.” 11The light had been so bright that I couldn't see. And the other men had to lead me by the hand to Damascus.
12In 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. 13He came to me and said, “Saul, my friend, you can now see again!”
At once I could see. 14Then Ananias told me, “The God that our ancestors worshipped has chosen you to know what he wants done. He has chosen you to see the One Who Obeys God#22.14 One Who Obeys God: See the note at 7.52. and to hear his voice. 15You must tell everyone what you have seen and heard. 16What are you waiting for? Get up! Be baptized, and wash away your sins by praying to the Lord.”
17After this I returned to Jerusalem and went to the temple to pray. There I had a vision 18of the Lord who said to me, “Hurry and leave Jerusalem! The people won't listen to what you say about me.”
19I replied, “Lord, they know that in many of our meeting places I arrested and beat people who had faith in you. 20#Acts 7.58.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.”
21But the Lord told me to go, and he promised to send me far away to the Gentiles.
22The crowd listened until Paul said this. Then they started shouting, “Get rid of this man! He doesn't deserve to live.” 23They kept shouting. They waved their clothes around and threw dust into the air.
Paul and the Roman army commander
24The 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.
25While 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?”
26When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and said, “What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen!”
27The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes,” Paul answered.
28The commander then said, “I paid a lot of money to become a Roman citizen.”#22.28 Roman citizen: See the note at 16.37.
But Paul replied, “I was born a Roman citizen.”
29The 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
30The 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.