Paul’s Defense to the Crowd
(Acts 9:1–19; Acts 26:1–23)
Then Paul declared, 3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but raised in this city. I was educated at the feet of Gamaliel in strict conformity to the law of our fathers. I am just as zealous for God as any of you here today.
4 I persecuted this Way even to the death, detaining both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5 as the high priest and the whole Council can testify about me. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and I was on my way to apprehend these people and bring them to Jerusalem to be punished.
8 ‘Who are You, Lord?’ I asked.
10 Then I asked, ‘What should I do, Lord?’
11 Because the brilliance of the light had blinded me, my companions led me by the hand into Damascus. 12 There a man named Ananias, a devout observer of the law who was highly regarded by all the Jews living there, 13 came and stood beside me. ‘Brother Saul,’ he said, ‘receive your sight.’ And at that moment I could see him.
14 Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will, and to see the Righteous One, and to hear His voice. 15 You will be His witness to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized, and wash your sins away, calling on His name.’
17 Later, when I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance
18 and saw the Lord b saying to me,
19 ‘Lord,’ I answered, ‘they know very well that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in You. 20 And when the blood of Your witness c Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’
21 Then He said to me,
Paul the Roman Citizen
22 The crowd listened to Paul until he made this statement. Then they lifted up their voices and shouted, “Rid the earth of him! He is not fit to live!”
23 As they were shouting and throwing off their cloaks and tossing dust into the air, 24 the commander ordered that Paul be brought into the barracks. He directed that Paul be flogged and interrogated to determine the reason for this outcry against him.
25 But as they stretched him out to strap him down, Paul said to the centurion standing there, “Is it lawful for you to flog a Roman citizen without a trial?”
26 On hearing this, the centurion went and reported it to the commander. “What are you going to do?” he said. “This man is a Roman citizen.”
27 The commander went to Paul and asked, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes,” he answered.
28 “I paid a high price for my citizenship,” said the commander.
“But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.
29 Then those who were about to interrogate Paul stepped back, and the commander himself was alarmed when he realized that he had put a Roman citizen in chains.
30 The next day the commander, wanting to learn the real reason Paul was accused by the Jews, released him and ordered the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin d to assemble. Then he brought Paul down and had him stand before them.
2 a Or in Aramaic ; literally in the Hebrew language
18 b Literally saw Him
20 c Or martyr
30 d Or the whole Council