1Paul said, “My brothers and my fathers, listen to me! I will make my defense to you.” 2The Jews heard Paul speaking the Jewish language. So they became very quiet. Paul said, 3”I am a Jew. I was born in Tarsus in the country of Cilicia. I grew up in this city ˻(Jerusalem)˼. I was a student of Gamaliel. He carefully taught me everything about the law of our fathers. I was very serious about serving God, the same as all of you here today. 4I persecuted the people that followed the Way ˻of Jesus˼. Some of them were killed because of me. I arrested men and women. I put them in jail. 5The high priest and the whole council of older Jewish leaders can tell you that this is true! One time these leaders gave me some letters. The letters were to the Jewish brothers in the city of Damascus. I was going there to arrest the followers of Jesus and bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment. 6”But something happened to me on my way to Damascus. It was about noon when I came close to Damascus. Suddenly a bright light from the sky shined all around me. 7I fell to the ground. I heard a voice saying to me: 'Saul, Saul, why are you doing these bad things to me?’ 8I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?’ The voice said, 'I am Jesus from Nazareth. I am the One you are persecuting.’ 9The men who were with me did not understand the voice. But they saw the light. 10I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?’ The Lord ˻(Jesus)˼ answered, 'Get up and go into Damascus. There you will be told all the things I have planned for you to do.’ 11I could not see, because the bright light had made me blind. So the men led me into Damascus. 12”In Damascus a man named Ananias came to me. Ananias was a man that truly worshiped God; he obeyed the law ˻of Moses˼. All the Jews who lived there respected him. 13Ananias came to me and said, 'Saul, my brother, you can see again!’ Immediately I was able to see him. 14Ananias told me, 'The God of our fathers chose you long ago. God chose you to know his plan. He chose you to see the Righteous One ˻(Jesus)˼ and to hear words from him. 15You will be his witness to all people. You will tell men about the things you have seen and heard. 16Now, don’t wait any longer. Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away. Do this, trusting in him ˻(Jesus)˼ ˻to save you˼.’ 17”Later, I came back to Jerusalem. I was praying in the temple yard, and I saw a vision. 18I saw Jesus, and Jesus said to me: 'Hurry! Leave Jerusalem now! The people here will not accept the truth about me.’ 19I said, 'But Lord, the people know that I was the one who put the believers in jail and beat them. I went through all the synagogues to find and arrest the people who believe in you. 20The people also know that I was there when Stephen, your witness, was killed. I stood there and agreed that they should kill Stephen. I even held the coats of the men who were killing him!’ 21But Jesus said to me, 'Leave now. I will send you far away to the non-Jewish people.’” 22The people stopped listening when Paul said this last thing ˻about going to the non-Jewish people˼. They all shouted, “Kill him! Get him out of the world! A man like this should not be allowed to live!” 23They yelled and threw off their coats. They threw dust into the air. 24Then the commander told the soldiers to take Paul into the army building. He told the soldiers to beat Paul. He wanted to make Paul tell why the people were shouting against him like this. 25So the soldiers were tying Paul, preparing to beat him. But Paul said to an army officer there, “Do you have the right to beat a Roman citizen who has not been proven guilty?” 26When the officer heard this, he went to the commander and told him about it. The officer said, “Do you know what you are doing? This man ˻(Paul)˼ is a Roman citizen!” 27The commander came to Paul and said, “Tell me, are you really a Roman citizen?” Paul answered, “Yes.” 28The commander said, “I paid much money to become a Roman citizen.” But Paul said, “I was born a citizen.” 29The men who were preparing to question Paul moved away from him immediately. The commander was afraid because he had already tied Paul, and Paul was a Roman citizen. 30The next day the commander decided to learn why the Jews were speaking against Paul. So he commanded the leading priests and the Jewish council to meet together. The commander took Paul’s chains off. Then he brought Paul out and stood Paul before their meeting.