Paul speaks to the crowd in Jerusalem
1 Paul said to the crowd, ‘Please, listen to me, you Jewish leaders and all you other people who are Jews like me. I want to explain to you what has happened here.’
2 The crowd heard Paul speaking to them in their own Hebrew language. So they became really quiet.
Paul continued to speak. He said, 3 ‘I am a Jew. I was born in Tarsus in the region of Cilicia. I lived here in Jerusalem when I was a boy. I studied God's Law for many years and Gamaliel was my teacher. I learned very well how to obey the laws of our ancestors. I tried to obey God as carefully as all of you do today.
22:3Gamaliel was a Pharisee. He taught Jewish boys and young men about God's Law. He was a very good teacher.
4 I caused great trouble to the disciples of Jesus. I even wanted to kill them. I took hold of them and I put them in prison. I did that to both men and women. 5 The most important priest and all the group of Jewish leaders can tell you that this is true. They gave me letters for the Jewish leaders in Damascus. So I travelled to Damascus to take hold of the believers in that city. I wanted to tie them and to bring them back to here to Jerusalem. Then the leaders here could punish them.’
Paul tells the crowd how he began to believe in Jesus
6 Paul continued to say, ‘As I was travelling, I came near to Damascus. About midday, a bright light from the sky suddenly shone round me. 7 I fell down to the ground. Then I heard a voice that said to me, “Saul, Saul, why do you fight against me?”
8 “Lord, who are you?” I asked.
He said to me, “I am Jesus from Nazareth. And you are fighting against me.” 9 The men who travelled with me saw the light. But they did not understand the voice that spoke to me.
10 I asked, “Lord, what must I do?” He said to me, “Get up now and go into Damascus. When you arrive in the city, someone will come to you. He will tell you what God wants you to do.” 11 The bright light hurt my eyes so that I could not see. So the men who were with me held my hand. They led me into Damascus.
12 In Damascus, there was a man called Ananias. He worshipped God and he obeyed our Law. All the Jews in Damascus said good things about him. 13 Ananias came to see me. He stood near to me and he said, “Brother Saul, see again!” Then immediately I could see again. I could look at him.
14 Then Ananias said to me, “The God that we worship and our ancestors worshipped has chosen you. He will tell you what he wants you to do. God has let you see his special servant, who is completely good. You have heard this servant's message to you. 15 You will tell people everywhere about the things that you have seen and heard. That is what God wants you to do. 16 So, now you do not need to wait any longer. Stand up and I will baptize you. Believe in the Lord Jesus so that God will forgive you for your sins.”
17 So, then I returned to Jerusalem. I went into God's Great House and I was praying there. I had a special dream. 18 In the dream, I saw the Lord and he spoke to me. He said, “Hurry. Leave Jerusalem quickly. The people here will not believe what you say to them about me.”
19 I replied, “Lord, the people here know what I have been doing. They know that I wanted to take hold of all the people who believed in you. I went to all our Jewish meeting places to look for the believers. When I found them, I put them in prison and I hit them with sticks. 20 I myself was there when the people killed Stephen. He was your servant who told people your message. But I agreed that it was right to kill him. I even held the coats of the people while they killed him.”
21 But the Lord said to me, “Go! I will now send you a long way away. You must go to the Gentiles and tell them my message.” ’
The people in the crowd become very angry with Paul
22 The people listened carefully to Paul until he spoke about the Gentiles. Then they began to shout loudly, ‘Take him away! Kill him! It is not right that he should live any longer!’
23 While they were shouting this, they were taking off their coats. They also threw dirt from the ground up into the air.
22:23The Jews did this when someone had said bad things about God. They thought that Paul had done that, so they were very angry.
24 The leader of the soldiers said to his men, ‘Take this man into our building. Then hit him with whips. We must find out what he has done. He must tell us why the Jews are shouting so loudly against him.’
22:24The soldiers would hit a person so that he would give them a true answer. A whip was stick with long pieces of strong material fixed at one end.
25 So the soldiers tied Paul's arms and they were ready to hit him. But Paul spoke to the soldiers' officer who stood near to him. He said, ‘I am a citizen of Rome. So, it is not right for you to hit me like that. No judge has agreed that I have done anything wrong.’
26 The officer heard what Paul said. So he went to the leader of the soldiers and he said, ‘That man is a citizen of Rome! Do not do a bad thing to him!’
27 So the soldiers' leader went to speak to Paul. He asked him, ‘Tell me. Are you really a citizen of Rome?’
Paul answered, ‘Yes, I am.’
28 The soldiers' leader said, ‘I paid a lot of money to the government so that I could become a citizen of Rome.’
Paul replied, ‘But I was already a citizen of Rome when I was born.’
29 Immediately, the men who were going to hit Paul with whips moved away from him. The leader of the soldiers was also very afraid. He had tied chains round Paul's arms and legs. He knew that he should not have done that to a citizen of Rome.
22:29The leader of the soldiers could hold a citizen of Rome in prison. But he should not put chains on the arms and legs of the citizen.
30 The soldiers' leader wanted to find the reason why the Jews had said bad things against Paul. He wanted to know what was really true. So the next day, he told his soldiers to remove the chains from Paul. He sent a message to the most important priest and to all the group of Jewish leaders. He told them to meet together with him. Then he took Paul in to their meeting. He made Paul stand in front of them.