Acts 26

Paul’s Defense Before Agrippa

1Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are [now] permitted to speak on your own behalf.” At that, Paul stretched out his hand [as an orator] and made his defense [as follows]:

2“I consider myself fortunate, King Agrippa, since it is before you that I am to make my defense today regarding all the charges brought against me by the Jews, 3especially because you are an expert [fully knowledgeable, experienced and unusually conversant] in all the Jewish customs and controversial issues; therefore, I beg you to listen to me patiently.

4“So then, all the Jews know my manner of life from my youth up, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation [the Jewish people], and in Jerusalem. 5They have known me for a long time, if they are willing to testify to it, that according to the strictest sect of our religion, I have lived as a Pharisee. 6And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7Which hope [of the Messiah and the resurrection] our twelve tribes [confidently] expect to realize as they serve and worship God in earnest night and day. And for this hope, O King, I am being accused by Jews! 8Why is it thought incredible by [any of] you that God raises the dead?

9“So then, I [once] thought to myself that it was my duty to do many things in opposition to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; I not only locked up many of the saints (God’s people) in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being condemned to death, I cast my vote against them. 11And I often punished them [making them suffer] in all the synagogues and tried to force them to blaspheme; and in my extreme rage at them, I kept hunting them even to foreign cities [harassing and persecuting them].

12“While so engaged, as I was traveling to Damascus with the authority and commission and full power of the chief priests, 13at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven surpassing the brightness of the sun, shining all around me and those who were traveling with me. 14And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew dialect (Jewish Aramaic) saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick [repeatedly] against the goads [offering pointless resistance].’ 15And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16‘Get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you [to serve] as a minister and as a witness [to testify, with authority,] not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you, 17[choosing you for Myself and] rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, 18to open their [spiritual] eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness and release from their sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified (set apart, made holy) by faith in Me.’

19“So, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20but I openly proclaimed first to those at Damascus, then at Jerusalem and throughout the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent [change their inner self—their old way of thinking] and turn to God, doing deeds and living lives which are consistent with repentance. 21Because of this some Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22But I have had help from God to this day, and I stand [before people] testifying to small and great alike, stating nothing except what the Prophets and Moses said would come to pass— 23that the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) was to suffer, and that He by being the first to rise from the dead [with an incorruptible body] would proclaim light (salvation) both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

24While Paul was making this defense, Festus said loudly, “Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great education is turning you toward madness.” 25But Paul replied, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent and noble Festus, but [with a sound mind] I am uttering rational words of truth and reason. 26For [your majesty] the king understands these things, and [therefore] I am also speaking to him with confidence and boldness, since I am convinced that none of these things escape his notice; for this has not been done in a corner [hidden from view, in secret]. 27“King Agrippa, do you believe the [writings of the] Prophets [their messages and words]? I know that you do.” 28Then Agrippa said to Paul, “In a short time [and with so little effort] you [almost] persuade me to become a Christian.” 29And Paul replied, “Whether in a short time or long, I wish to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become such as I am, except for these chains.”

30Then the king stood up, and [with him] the governor and Bernice, and those who were sitting with them; 31and after they had gone out, they began saying to one another, “This man is not doing anything worthy of death or [even] of imprisonment.” 32And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar (Emperor Nero).”