“I myself am a Jew,” Paul went on. “I was born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but I was brought up here in the city, I received my training at the feet of Gamaliel and I was schooled in the strictest observance of our father’s Law. I was as much on fire with zeal for God as you all are today. I am also the man who persecuted this way to the death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as the High Priest and the whole council can readily testify. Indeed, it was after receiving letters from them to their brothers in Damascus that I was on my way to that city, intending to arrest any followers of the way I could find there and bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment. Then this happened to me. As I was on my journey and getting near to Damascus, about midday a great light from Heaven suddenly blazed around me. I fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ I replied, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting.’ My companions naturally saw the light, but they did not hear the voice of the one who was talking to me. ‘What am I to do Lord?’ I asked. And the Lord told me, ‘Get up and go to Damascus and there you will be told of all that has been determined for you to do.’ I was blinded by the brightness of the light and my companions had to take me by the hand as we went on to Damascus. There, there was a man called Ananias, a reverent observer of the Law and a man highly respected by all the Jews who lived there. He came to visit me and as he stood by my side said, ‘Saul, brother, you may see again!’ At once I regained my sight and looked up to him. ‘The God of our fathers,’ he went on, ‘has chosen you to know his will, to see the righteous one, to hear words from his own lips, so that you may become his witness before all men of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up and be baptised! Be clean from your sins as you call on his name.’
“Then he said, ‘The God of our ancestors has handpicked you to be briefed on his plan of action. You’ve actually seen the Righteous Innocent and heard him speak. You are to be a key witness to everyone you meet of what you’ve seen and heard. So what are you waiting for? Get up and get yourself baptized, scrubbed clean of those sins and personally acquainted with God.’
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