22 “My friends and leaders of our nation, listen as I explain what happened!” 2 When the crowd heard Paul speak to them in Aramaic, they became even quieter. Then Paul said:
3 I am a Jew, born and raised in the city of Tarsus in Cilicia. I was a student of Gamaliel and was taught to follow every single law of our ancestors. In fact, I was just as eager to obey God as any of you are today.
4 I made trouble for everyone who followed the Lord’s Way, and I even had some of them killed. I had others arrested and put in jail. I didn’t care if they were men or women. 5 The high priest and all the council members can tell you that this is true. They even gave me letters to the Jewish leaders in Damascus, so that I could arrest people there and bring them to Jerusalem to be punished.
6 One day about noon I was getting close to Damascus, when a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice asking, “Saul, Saul, why are you so cruel to me?”
8 “Who are you?” I answered.
The Lord replied, “I am Jesus from Nazareth! I am the one you are so cruel to.” 9 The men who were traveling with me saw the light, but did not hear the voice.
10 I asked, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
Then he told me, “Get up and go to Damascus. When you get there, you will be told what to do.” 11 The light had been so bright that I couldn’t see. And the other men had to lead me by the hand to Damascus.
12 In that city there was a man named Ananias, who faithfully obeyed the Law of Moses and was well liked by all the Jewish people living there. 13 He came to me and said, “Saul, my friend, you can now see again!”
At once I could see. 14 Then Ananias told me, “The God that our ancestors worshiped has chosen you to know what he wants done. He has chosen you to see the One Who Obeys God and to hear his voice. 15 You must tell everyone what you have seen and heard. 16 What are you waiting for? Get up! Be baptized, and wash away your sins by praying to the Lord.”
17 After this I returned to Jerusalem and went to the temple to pray. There I had a vision 18 of the Lord who said to me, “Hurry and leave Jerusalem! The people won’t listen to what you say about me.”
19 I replied, “Lord, they know that in many of our meeting places I arrested and beat people who had faith in you. 20 Stephen was killed because he spoke for you, and I stood there and cheered them on. I even guarded the clothes of the men who murdered him.”
21 But the Lord told me to go, and he promised to send me far away to the Gentiles.
22 The crowd listened until Paul said this. Then they started shouting, “Get rid of this man! He doesn’t deserve to live.”