Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'You
have permission to speak for yourself.' So Paul motioned with his
hand and began his defense:
'King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate
to stand before you today as I make my defense against all the
accusations of the Jews, and especially so because you are well
acquainted with all the Jewish customs and controversies. Therefore,
I beg you to listen to me patiently.
The Jews all know the
way I have lived ever since I was a child, from the beginning of my
life in my own country, and also in Jerusalem. They have known me
for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that according
to the strictest sect of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.
And now it is because
of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial
today. This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see
fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. O king, it is
because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me. Why should any
of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?
I too was convinced
that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus
of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the
authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison,
and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many a
time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and
I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I
even went to foreign cities to persecute them.
On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus
with the authority and commission of the chief priests. About noon,
O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter
than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to
the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, "Saul,
Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against
Then I asked, "Who are you,
"I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,"
the Lord replied. "Now get up and stand on your feet. I have
appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what
you have seen of me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from
your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to
open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the
power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins
and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me."
So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient
to the vision from heaven. First to those in Damascus, then to those
in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached
that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance
by their deeds.
That is why the Jews seized me in the temple
courts and tried to kill me. But I have had God's help to this very
day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am
saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen-
that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the
dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles.
A few days later King
Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to
Festus. Since they were spending many days there, Festus discussed
Paul's case with the king.
He said: "There is a man here whom Felix
left as a prisoner. When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and
elders of the Jews brought charges against him and asked that he be
I told them that it is not the Roman custom to
hand over any man before he has faced his accusers and has had an
opportunity to defend himself against their charges. When they came
here with me, I did not delay the case, but convened the court the
next day and ordered the man to be brought in.
When his accusers got up to speak, they did not
charge him with any of the crimes I had expected. Instead, they had
some points of dispute with him about their own religion and about a
dead man named Jesus who Paul claimed was alive.
I was at a loss how to investigate such matters;
so I asked if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial
there on these charges. When Paul made his appeal to be held over
for the Emperor's decision, I ordered him held until I could send
him to Caesar.'
Agrippa said to Festus, "I would like to hear this man
myself." He replied, "Tomorrow you will hear him."