Acts 26

AUV(i) 1 Then Agrippa said to Paul, "You have permission to speak for yourself." So, Paul motioned [to the assembly] with his hand [for attention] and began speaking in his defense: 2 "King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate that I am able to defend myself before you concerning all the charges being brought against me by the Jews, 3 especially since you are an expert on all the customs and issues discussed among the Jews. So, for this reason I request that you hear [my response to them] patiently. 4 All the Jews know how I lived during my youth and my early days among [the people of] my nation, and [especially here] in Jerusalem. 5 They know of my early background; if they were willing to, they could testify that I lived as a [faithful] Pharisee, [which is] the strictest sect of our religion. 6 And now I am standing [here], being judged because [I believe that] God will fulfill the hope He promised to our forefathers. 7 This is the promise our twelve tribes [i.e., family groups], who earnestly serve God night and day, hope to see fulfilled. It is because [I advocate] this hope, O King, that I am being charged [with wrongdoing] by the Jews. 8 So, why should you [Jews] consider it incredible for God to raise the dead? 9 I truly thought within myself [that it was right] to do many things which were opposed to the name of Jesus from Nazareth. 10 So, I was doing this in Jerusalem, having received [my] authority from the leading priests. I both imprisoned many of the saints [i.e., God's holy people] and [even] voiced my approval when they were put to death [See 8:1]. 11 I often persecuted them in the synagogues, [even] trying to get them to blaspheme [i.e., speak against God]. I had extreme anger toward them and [even] traveled to foreign cities [in my effort] to persecute them. 12 "While on a journey to Damascus for this purpose, I was acting under the authority and directive of the leading priests. 13 [Then] along the road, about noon, O King, I saw a light from the sky, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those traveling with me. 14 When we all fell to the ground I heard a voice speaking in the Hebrew [i.e., Aramaic] language. [It said], 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? You are only hurting yourself by kicking against the spurs [i.e., opposing the work of God].' 15 I answered, 'Who are you, sir?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting. 16 But, get up onto your feet, for the reason I have appeared to you is to appoint you a minister and witness of both the things you have [already] seen of me and the things I will [reveal when] appearing to you. 17 I will rescue you from the [Jewish] people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them, 18 to open their eyes [to the truth] so they will turn from darkness to light and from the power [i.e., the influence] of Satan to God. [Then] they can receive the forgiveness of sins and the inheritance [of never ending life], along with [all] those who are set apart [for God] by trusting in Me.' 19 "As a result of this, O King, I did not disobey [the mandate of] this vision from heaven 20 but, [instead] declared to the people of Damascus first, [then] to the people of Jerusalem, and [finally to those] throughout all of the district of Judea, as well as to the Gentiles [everywhere] that they should repent [i.e., change their hearts and lives] and turn to God, doing deeds which demonstrate their repentance. 21 For this reason the Jews grabbed me in the Temple and attempted to kill me. 22 But I obtained help from God and so [I am able to] stand here to this day, testifying to both the common people and to those in prominence. [I am] saying only what the prophets and Moses said would happen, 23 namely, that the Christ must suffer and be the first to rise from the dead [i.e., never to die again] and then proclaim the light [of the Gospel] to the [Jewish] people and to the Gentiles." 24 As Paul made his defense in this way, Festus said to him loudly, "Paul, you are crazy. All your education is driving you insane." 25 But Paul replied, "I am not crazy, Your Excellency Festus; I am [just] speaking a message of truth and sound reason. 26 I can speak boldly of these things because the King knows [they are true]. And I am convinced that none of these things are hidden from you, for none of them have been done in a corner [i.e., secretly]. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe [the message of] the prophets? [Yes] I know you do." 28 Agrippa said to Paul, "You expect to persuade me to be a Christian with such little effort [or, in such a short time]?" 29 Paul replied, "I wish to God that, whether it would take a little or a lot, not only you, but all those who hear me today, might become [Christians] like me, except [not] with these chains." 30 Then King Agrippa, [his wife] Bernice, Governor [Festus] and [the commanders and leading men of the city, 25:23] all rose up, 31 and when they left [the room] they conferred with one another, saying, "This man is not doing anything deserving of the death penalty or [even] imprisonment." 32 Then Agrippa said to Festus, "This man could have been released if he had not appealed [his case] to Caesar."