Acts 26

1Agrippa said to Paul, “You may now speak to defend yourself.” Then Paul raised his hand and began to speak. 2He said, “King Agrippa, I will answer all the charges that the Jews say against me. I think it is a blessing that I can stand here before you today and do this. 3I am very happy to talk to you, because you know much about all the Jewish customs and the things that the Jews argue about. Please listen to me patiently. 4”All the Jews know about my whole life. They know the way I lived from the beginning in my own country and later in Jerusalem. 5These Jews have known me for a long time. If they want to, they can tell you that I was a good Pharisee. And the Pharisees obey the laws of the Jewish religion more carefully than any other group of Jewish people. 6Now I am on trial because I hope for the promise that God made to our fathers. 7This is the promise that all the twelve tribes ˻(family groups)˼ of our people hope to receive. For this hope the Jews serve God day and night. My king, the Jews have accused me because I hope for this same promise! 8Why do you people think it is impossible for God to raise people from death? 9”˻When I was a Pharisee˼, even I thought I should do many things against the name of Jesus from Nazareth. 10And in Jerusalem I did many things against the believers. The leading priests gave me the power to put many of these people ˻(believers)˼ in jail. When the followers of Jesus were being killed, I agreed that it was a good thing. 11In every synagogue I punished them. I tried to make them say bad things against ˻Jesus˼. I was so angry against these people ˻(believers)˼ that I went to other cities to find them and hurt them. 12”One time the leading priests gave me permission and the power to go to the city of Damascus. 13I was on the way to Damascus. It was noon. I saw a light from the sky. The light was brighter than the sun. The light shined all around me and the men who were traveling with me. 14We all fell to the ground. Then I heard a voice talking to me in the Jewish language. The voice said, 'Saul, Saul, why are you doing these bad things to me? You are only hurting yourself by fighting me.’ 15I said, 'Who are you, Lord?’ The Lord said, 'I am Jesus. I am the One you are persecuting. 16Stand up! I have chosen you to be my servant. You will be my witness—you will tell people the things that you have seen about me today and the things that I will show you. This is why I have come to you today. 17I will not let ˻your own˼ people ˻(the Jews)˼ hurt you. And I will keep you safe from the non-Jewish people too. I am sending you to these people. 18You will show the people the Truth. The people will turn away from darkness ˻(sin)˼ to the light ˻(good)˼. They will turn away from the power of Satan, and they will turn to God. Then their sins can be forgiven. They can have a share with those people who have been made holy by believing in me.’” 19Paul continued speaking: “King Agrippa, after I had this vision from heaven, I obeyed it. 20I began telling people that they should change their hearts and lives and turn back to God. I told the people to do things that show that they really changed their hearts. I told these things first to people in Damascus. Then I went to Jerusalem and to every part of Judea and told these things to the people there. I also went to the non-Jewish people. 21This is why the Jews grabbed me and were trying to kill me at the temple. 22But God helped me, and he is still helping me today. With God’s help I am standing here today and telling all people the things I have seen. But I am saying nothing new. I am saying the same things that Moses and the prophets said would happen. 23They said that the Christ would die and be the first to rise from death. Moses and the prophets said that the Christ would bring light to the Jewish people and to the non-Jewish people.” 24While Paul was saying these things to defend himself, Festus shouted, “Paul, you are crazy! Too much study has made you crazy!” 25Paul said, “Most Excellent Festus, I am not crazy. The things I say are true. My words are not the words of a foolish man; I am in my right mind. 26King Agrippa knows about these things. I can speak freely to him. I know that he has heard about all of these things. Why? Because these things happened where all people could see. 27King Agrippa, do you believe the things the prophets wrote? I know you believe!” 28King Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so easily?” 29Paul said, “It is not important if it is easy or if it is hard; I pray to God that not only you but every person listening to me today could ˻be saved and˼ be like me—except for these chains I have!” 30King Agrippa, Governor Festus, Bernice, and all the people sitting with them stood up 31and left the room. They were talking to each other. They said, “This man should not be killed or put in jail; he has done nothing really bad!” 32And Agrippa said to Festus, “We could let this man go free, but he has asked to see Caesar.”

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