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Free Bible Version - Acts

Acts 22

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1“Brother and fathers,” he said, “Please listen as I give my defense before you.”
2When they heard him speaking to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.
3“I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia,” he began. “However, I was brought up here in this city, and sat at the feet of Gamaliel. I was taught to strictly observe the law of our fathers. I was zealous for God, just like all of you here today,
4and I persecuted the people of this Way—having them put to death, and imprisoning both men and women.
5As the high priest and the council of the elders can also verify, I received from them letters of authorization addressed to the Jewish brothers in Damascus, and went there to arrest these people and bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
6At around noon, while I was on my way and approaching Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven shone all around me.
7I fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
8‘Who are you, Lord?’ I answered. ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, the one you are persecuting,’ he told me.
9Those who were traveling with me did see the light, but they didn't hear the voice that spoke to me.
10‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked. The Lord told me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you'll be told everything that's arranged for you to do.’
11Since I couldn't see because of the brightness of the light, those who were with me led me by the hand into Damascus.
12There a man called Ananias came to see me. He was a religious man who observed the law, and was highly respected by the Jews who lived in the town.
13He stood in front of me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive back your sight.’ At that very moment I could see again, and I looked at him.
14He told me, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know his will, to see the one who is truly good and right, and to listen to what he has to say to you.
15You will testify for him to everyone about what you have seen and heard. So what are you waiting for?
16Get up, be baptized, and wash away your sins as you call on his name.’
17I returned to Jerusalem, and as I was praying in the Temple, I fell into a trance.
18I saw a vision of the Lord telling me, ‘Hurry! You need to leave Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept what you are telling them about me.’

19I replied, ‘Lord, they certainly know that I went from synagogue to synagogue, beating and imprisoning those who trusted in you.
20When Stephen was killed for testifying about you I was standing there in full agreement with those who killed him, holding their coats for them.’
21The Lord told me, ‘Leave now, for I am sending you far away to the foreigners.’”
22Up until this point they had listened to what he was saying, but then they started shouting, “Get rid of this man from the earth—he doesn't deserve to live!”
23They screamed and tore off their coats and threw dust into the air.
24The commander ordered Paul brought into the fortress, and gave orders for him to be interrogated by flogging so he could find out the reason people were shouting so much against Paul.
25As they stretched him out and tied him down to flog him, Paul asked the centurion standing there, “Is it legal to flog a Roman citizen who hasn't had a trial?”
26When the centurion heard what Paul said, he went to the commander and asked him, “What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen.”
27The commander came, and asked Paul, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” Paul replied, “Yes I am.”
28“I paid a lot of money to buy Roman citizenship,” said the commander. “But I was born a citizen,” Paul replied.
29Those who were about to interrogate Paul left immediately. The commander was worried when he found out that Paul was a Roman citizen because he had placed him in chains.
30The next day, wanting to find out the reason why the Jews were accusing Paul, he had him released and taken before the chief priests and the whole council which he ordered to assemble. He had Paul brought down and placed him before them.