22 “Brothers and fathers, listen to me as I offer my defense.” 2 (When they heard him speaking in Hebrew, the silence was even greater.) 3 “I am a Jew,” he said, “born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, but educated here in Jerusalem under Gamaliel, at whose feet I learned to follow our Jewish laws and customs very carefully. I became very anxious to honor God in everything I did, just as you have tried to do today. 4 And I persecuted the Christians, hounding them to death, binding and delivering both men and women to prison. 5 The High Priest or any member of the Council can testify that this is so. For I asked them for letters to the Jewish leaders in Damascus, with instructions to let me bring any Christians I found to Jerusalem in chains to be punished.
6 “As I was on the road, nearing Damascus, suddenly about noon a very bright light from heaven shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Paul, Paul, why are you persecuting me?’
8 “‘Who is it speaking to me, sir?’ I asked. And he replied, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, the one you are persecuting.’ 9 The men with me saw the light but didn’t understand what was said.
10 “And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’
“And the Lord told me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told what awaits you in the years ahead.’
11 “I was blinded by the intense light and had to be led into Damascus by my companions. 12 There a man named Ananias, as godly a man as you could find for obeying the law and well thought of by all the Jews of Damascus, 13 came to me, and standing beside me said, ‘Brother Paul, receive your sight!’ And that very hour I could see him!
14 “Then he told me, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Messiah[a] and hear him speak. 15 You are to take his message everywhere, telling what you have seen and heard. 16 And now, why delay? Go and be baptized and be cleansed from your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’
17-18 “One day after my return to Jerusalem, while I was praying in the Temple, I fell into a trance and saw a vision of God saying to me, ‘Hurry! Leave Jerusalem, for the people here won’t believe you when you give them my message.’
19 “‘But Lord,’ I argued, ‘they certainly know that I imprisoned and beat those in every synagogue who believed on you. 20 And when your witness Stephen was killed, I was standing there agreeing—keeping the coats they laid aside as they stoned him.’
21 “But God said to me, ‘Leave Jerusalem, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles!’”
22 The crowd listened until Paul came to that word, then with one voice they shouted, “Away with such a fellow! Kill him! He isn’t fit to live!” 23 They yelled and threw their coats in the air and tossed up handfuls of dust.
24 So the commander brought him inside and ordered him lashed with whips to make him confess his crime. He wanted to find out why the crowd had become so furious!
25 As they tied Paul down to lash him, Paul said to an officer standing there, “Is it legal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn’t even been tried?”
26 The officer went to the commander and asked, “What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen!”
27 So the commander went over and asked Paul, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
“Yes, I certainly am.”
28 “I am too,” the commander muttered, “and it cost me plenty!”
“But I am a citizen by birth!”
29 The soldiers standing ready to lash him, quickly disappeared when they heard Paul was a Roman citizen, and the commander was frightened because he had ordered him bound and whipped.
30 The next day the commander freed him from his chains and ordered the chief priests into session with the Jewish Council. He had Paul brought in before them to try to find out what the trouble was all about.
- Acts 22:14 the Messiah, literally, “the Righteous One.”