“Brothers and fathers, listen to the defense which I now present to you.” When they heard that he was speaking to them in Aramaic, they became even quieter. He continued, “I am a Jew born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I was educated with strictness by Gamaliel according to the Law of our forefathers, and was zealous for God, just as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, chaining up and putting in prison both men and women. The high priest and the whole Sanhedrin can testify to this. I received from them letters to the brothers in Damascus, and was traveling there to bring them in chains to Jerusalem to be punished. “As I was on my journey, near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a bright light from the sky flashed all around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ I answered, ‘Who are you, lord?’ He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ Those who were with me saw the light, but they did not understand the voice speaking to me. I asked, ‘What shall I do, lord?’ The lord said to me, ‘Get up and go to Damascus. There you will be told about everything which has been assigned for you to do.’ Since I was unable to see because of the intensity of that light, I was led by the hand of those who were with me, and so I came to Damascus. “A man named Ananias, who was devout according to the Law, and spoken highly of by all the Jews living in Damascus, came to me. He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight!’ At that very moment I looked up at him and was able to see. He said, ‘The God of our forefathers has selected you to know His will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear from him. You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. Now why wait? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name.’ “When I had returned to Jerusalem, while I was praying in the Temple, I went into a trance, and saw Jesus saying to me, ‘Hurry! Get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ I responded, ‘lord, they themselves know that I used to imprison and beat in the synagogues those who believe in you. And when Stephen your witness was murdered, I myself was standing by approving, and guarding the coats of those who were killing him.’ Then he said to me, ‘Go, because I am going to send you far from here to the Gentiles.’” The people listened to him until he said that, but then they shouted, “Rid the earth of this man — he should not be allowed to live!” As they shouted they threw off their coats and flung dust into the air. The commander ordered Paul to be brought into the barracks and interrogated under the lash, so that he could find out why the crowd was shouting against Paul. When they had stretched him out to be lashed, Paul asked the centurion standing there on duty, “Is it lawful for you to lash a Roman citizen who has not had a trial?” When the centurion heard this, he went and reported to the commander, “What are you about to do? This man is a Roman citizen.” The commander came and asked Paul, “Are you a Roman citizen?” Paul replied, “Yes.” The commander said, “I obtained my citizenship with a great deal of money.” Paul replied, “But I was actually born a Roman citizen.” Immediately those who were about to interrogate Paul by lashing stepped back from him. The commander was afraid when he discovered that Paul was a Roman citizen, because he had put him in chains. The next day, desiring to know the truth about why Paul was being accused by the Jews, the commander released him and ordered the chief priests and all the Sanhedrin to come together. He brought Paul and made him stand before them.