22 1BRETHREN AND fathers, listen to the defense which I now make in your presence. 2And when they heard that he addressed them in the Hebrew tongue, they were all the more quiet. And he continued, 3I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia but reared in this city. At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated according to the strictest care in the Law of our fathers, being ardent [even a zealot] for God, as all of you are today. 4[Yes] I harassed (troubled, molested, and persecuted) this Way [of the Lord] to the death, putting in chains and committing to prison both men and women, 5As the high priest and whole council of elders (Sanhedrin) can testify; for from them indeed I received letters with which I was on my way to the brethren in Damascus in order to take also those [believers] who were there, and bring them in chains to Jerusalem that they might be punished. 6But as I was on my journey and approached Damascus, about noon a great blaze of light flashed suddenly from heaven and shone about me. 7And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me [harass and trouble and molest Me]? 8And I replied, Who are You, Lord? And He said to me, I am Jesus the Nazarene, Whom you are persecuting. 9Now the men who were with me saw the light, but they did not hear [[B]the sound of the uttered words of] the voice of the One Who was speaking to me [so that they could [C]understand it]. 10And I asked, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord answered me, Get up and go into Damascus, and there it will be told you all that it is destined and appointed for you to do. 11And since I could not see because [of the dazzlingly glorious intensity] of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and [thus] I arrived in Damascus. 12And one Ananias, a devout man according to the Law, well spoken of by all the Jews who resided there, 13Came to see me, and standing by my side said to me, Brother Saul, [D]look up and receive back your sight. And in that very [E]instant I [recovered my sight and] looking up saw him. 14And he said, The God of our forefathers has destined and appointed you to come progressively to know His will [to perceive, to recognize more strongly and clearly, and to become better and more intimately acquainted with His will], and to see the Righteous One (Jesus Christ, the Messiah), and to hear a voice from His [own] mouth and a message from His [own] lips; 15For you will be His witness unto all men of everything that you have seen and heard. 16And now, why do you delay? Rise and be baptized, and [F]by calling upon His name, wash away your sins. 17Then when I had come back to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple [[G]enclosure], I fell into a trance (an ecstasy); 18And I saw Him as He said to me, Hurry, get quickly out of Jerusalem, because they will not receive your testimony about Me. 19And I said, Lord, they themselves well know that throughout all the synagogues I cast into prison and flogged those who believed on (adhered to and trusted in and relied on) You. 20And when the blood of Your witness (martyr) Stephen was shed, I also was personally standing by and consenting and approving and guarding the garments of those who slew him. 21And the Lord said to me, Go, for I will send you far away unto the Gentiles (nations). 22Up to the moment that Paul made this last statement, the people listened to him; but now they raised their voices and shouted, Away with such a fellow from the earth! He is not fit to live! 23And as they were shouting and tossing and waving their garments and throwing dust into the air, 24The commandant ordered that Paul be brought into the barracks, and that he be examined by scourging in order that [the commandant] might learn why the people cried out thus against him. 25But when they had stretched him out with the thongs (leather straps), Paul asked the centurion who was standing by, Is it legal for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned [without a trial]? 26When the centurion heard that, he went to the commandant and said to him, What are you about to do? This man is a Roman citizen! 27So the commandant came and said to [Paul], Tell me, are you a Roman citizen? And he said, Yes [indeed]! 28The commandant replied, I purchased this citizenship [as a capital investment] for a big price. Paul said, But I was born [Roman]! 29Instantly those who were about to examine and flog him withdrew from him; and the commandant also was frightened, for he realized that [Paul] was a Roman citizen and he had put him in chains. 30But the next day, desiring to know the real cause for which the Jews accused him, he unbound him and ordered the chief priests and all the council (Sanhedrin) to assemble; and he brought Paul down and placed him before them.
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