Paul speaks to Agrippa
1 King Agrippa said to Paul, ‘You may now say what you think about this problem.’
Paul raised his hand so that people would listen to him. 2 He said, ‘King Agrippa, I am happy that you are here. I ask you to listen to me today. These Jews say that I have done some bad things. I will explain to you what is really true about all these things. 3 You yourself know all about the Jews. You know about how we live. You also know the things that we argue about with each other. So please be patient and listen to me.
4 The Jewish people have known me since I was born. They all know how I have lived among them. They knew me in the region where I was born. When I came to Jerusalem, they also know how I lived there. 5 So, they have known me for a long time. They could tell you that I always obeyed our Jewish laws. They know that I was a Pharisee. I carefully obeyed God's Law, as a Pharisee does. But maybe they do not want to tell you all that. 6 So, what is the reason that I stand here today for you to judge me? It is because I believe in God's promise to our ancestors. 7 He promised a great thing to our 12 Israelite families. We all expect to receive what God has promised to us. That is why we Jews always worship God, in the day and in the night. Like these Jews here, I believe in God's great promise. But that is the reason that they speak against me. 8 Is it impossible for God to cause dead people to become alive again? You should surely believe me when I say that.
9 I myself wanted to work against Jesus, the man from Nazareth, and against his message. 10 That is what I was doing in Jerusalem. The leaders of the priests gave me authority to put many of the believers in prison. I agreed with our leaders when they said, “These people must die.”
11 I went to our Jewish meeting places to take hold of believers. I told my men to punish them. I tried to make the believers say bad things against God. I was very angry with them. So I even travelled to cities in other countries to punish them.
12 For that reason, one day I was travelling to Damascus. The leaders of the priests in Jerusalem had sent me there. They had given me authority to take hold of the believers there. 13 Listen to this, King Agrippa! I was travelling along the road at midday. Suddenly I saw a very bright light in the sky. It was much brighter than the sun. It shone all round me and also round the men who were with me. 14 All of us fell down to the ground. I heard a voice that spoke to me in my own language, Hebrew. He said “Saul, Saul, why do you fight against me? You are like an ox that kicks against its master's stick. So you are hurting yourself.”
26:14Hebrew was the language of the Jews.
26:14Jesus used a picture to show Saul what was happening. A farmer made his ox pull a cart for him. He used a sharp stick. It made the ox walk where he wanted it to go. The sharp stick hurt the ox if it went the wrong way. The stick also hurt the ox if it tried to kick it.
15 “Lord, who are you?” I asked.
He replied, “I am Jesus. And you are fighting against me. 16 Now you must get up. Stand on your feet. I have chosen you to be my servant. That is why I have appeared to you today. You must tell other people about what you have seen. After that, I will show you other things that you must tell people. 17 I will send you to speak about me to Jews and to Gentiles. Some of them will want to hurt you. But I will keep you safe. 18 You will help them to understand what is really true. They are like people who live in the dark. Teach them what is true about me. Then they will be like people who live in the light. Now Satan has power over them. Lead them from there into God's kingdom. Then God will forgive them for the wrong things that they have done. Because they believe in me, God will accept them as his own people.” ’
Paul tells Agrippa and Bernice about his work for God
19 ‘So you should know this, King Agrippa. I obeyed the things that I heard from heaven that day. 20 First, I taught God's message to the Jews in Damascus. Then I also taught God's message to the Jews in Jerusalem and in all of Judea region. Later I also spoke to the Gentiles. I said to all of them, “You must stop doing wrong things. You must turn to God. You must do good things. That will show that you have really changed how you live.” 21 This is the reason that the Jews took hold of me in the yard of God's Great House. This is also the reason why they wanted to kill me. 22 But God has helped me every day, even until today. So now I stand here and I can tell you what is true. I say the same thing to people who are very important and to people who are not important. I am telling you the same things that Moses and God's other prophets wrote about. They also said that these things would happen. 23 They said that God's special Messiah would have much pain and he would die. But God would raise him up to be alive again. He would be the first dead person to become alive and not die again. In that way, he would show God's message and bring light to people. He would save both Jewish people and Gentiles. That is what the prophets and Moses wrote. And I say the same thing.’
24 While Paul was still speaking to Agrippa, Festus shouted at him, ‘Paul, Your mind is confused! You have learned many things. But all these things are making you crazy.’
25 Paul said, ‘Festus, sir, I am not crazy. Everything that I have said is true. It is not difficult to understand. 26 King Agrippa knows about these things. He understands what I am talking about. None of these things happened in secret places. So I am sure that he has heard news about all this. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe what God's prophets taught? I know that you do believe them.’
28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Can you change what I believe in this short time? Should I become a Christian already? Is that what you think?’
29 Paul answered him, ‘It is not important if it takes a long time or a short time. I pray to God for you and for everyone who is listening to me today. I pray that you may all become like me. But I would not want you to become a prisoner like me!’
30 Then King Agrippa, the ruler Festus, and Bernice all got ready to leave. Everyone else there also stood up. 31 After they left the meeting room, they said to each other, ‘This man has not done anything bad. We should not kill him, or even hold him in prison.’
32 King Agrippa said to Festus, ‘We could have let this man go free from the prison. But he has asked that Caesar should judge him. So we cannot let him go free.’