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Paul Before King Agrippa

1Agrippa said to Paul, “You may now speak to defend yourself.” Paul raised his hand to get their attention and began to speak.

2He said, “King Agrippa, I feel it is a blessing for me to stand here before you today and answer all the charges these Jews have made against me.

3I am very happy to talk to you, because you know so much about all the Jewish customs and the things the Jews argue about. Please listen to me patiently.

4“All the Jews know about my whole life. They know the way I lived from the beginning in my own country and later in Jerusalem.

5These Jews have known me for a long time. If they want to, they can tell you that I was a good Pharisee. And the Pharisees obey the laws of the Jewish religion more carefully than any other group.

6Now I am on trial because I hope for the promise that God made to our fathers.

7This is the promise that all the twelve tribes of our people hope to receive. For this hope the Jews serve God day and night. My king, the Jews have accused me because I hope for this same promise.

8Why do you people think it is impossible for God to raise people from death?

9“I used to think that I should do everything I could against Jesus from Nazareth.

10And that’s what I did, beginning in Jerusalem. The leading priests gave me the authority to put many of God’s people in jail. And when they were being killed, I agreed that it was a good thing.

11I visited all the synagogues and punished them, trying to make them curse Jesus. My anger against these people was so strong that I went to other cities to find them and punish them.

Paul Tells About Seeing Jesus

12“One time the leading priests gave me permission and the authority to go to the city of Damascus.

13On the way there, at noon, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun. It shined all around me and those traveling with me.

14We all fell to the ground. Then I heard a voice talking to me in Aramaic. The voice said, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? You are only hurting yourself by fighting me.’

15“I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “The Lord said, ‘I am Jesus. I am the one you are persecuting.

16Stand up! I have chosen you to be my servant. You will tell people about me—what you have seen today and what I will show you. This is why I have come to you.

17I will keep you safe from your own people and from the non-Jewish people, the ones I am sending you to.

18You will make them able to understand the truth. They will turn away from darkness to the light. They will turn away from the power of Satan and turn to God. Then their sins can be forgiven, and they can be given a place among God’s people—those who have been made holy by believing in me.’”

Paul Tells About His Work

19Paul continued speaking: “King Agrippa, after I had this vision from heaven, I obeyed it.

20I began telling people to change their hearts and lives and turn back to God. And I told them to do what would show that they had really changed. I went first to people in Damascus. Then I went to Jerusalem and to every part of Judea and told the people there. I also went to the non-Jewish people.

21“This is why the Jews grabbed me and were trying to kill me at the Temple.

22But God helped me, and he is still helping me today. With God’s help I am standing here today and telling all people what I have seen. But I am saying nothing new. I am saying only what Moses and the prophets said would happen.

23They said that the Messiah would die and be the first to rise from death. They said that he would bring the light of God’s saving truth to the Jewish people and to the non-Jewish people.”

Paul Tries to Persuade Agrippa

24While Paul was still defending himself, Festus shouted, “Paul, you are out of your mind! Too much study has made you crazy.”

25Paul said, “Most Honorable Festus, I am not crazy. What I am saying is true. It all makes perfect sense.

26King Agrippa knows about all this, and I can speak freely to him. I know that he has heard about these things, because they happened where everyone could see them.

27King Agrippa, do you believe what the prophets wrote? I know you believe!”

28King Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think you can persuade me so easily to become a Christ-follower?”

29Paul said, “It makes no difference to me if it is easy or hard. I just pray to God that not only you but everyone listening to me today could be saved and be just like me—except for these chains!”

30King Agrippa, Governor Festus, Bernice, and all the people sitting with them stood up

31and left the room. They were talking to each other. They said, “This man has done nothing worthy of being put to death or even put in jail.”

32And Agrippa said to Festus, “We could let him go free, but he has asked to see Caesar.”

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