Paul Offers His Defense
26:1 So Agrippa1 said to Paul, “You have permission2 to speak for yourself.” Then Paul held out his hand3 and began his defense:4
26:2 “Regarding all the things I have been accused of by the Jews, King Agrippa,5 I consider myself fortunate that I am about to make my defense before you today, 26:3 because you are especially6 familiar with all the customs and controversial issues7 of the Jews. Therefore I ask8 you to listen to me patiently. 26:4 Now all the Jews know the way I lived9 from my youth, spending my life from the beginning among my own people10 and in Jerusalem.11 26:5 They know,12 because they have known13 me from time past,14 if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party15 of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.16 26:6 And now I stand here on trial17 because of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors,18 26:7 a promise19 that our twelve tribes hope to attain as they earnestly serve God20 night and day. Concerning this hope the Jews are accusing me,21 Your Majesty!22 26:8 Why do you people23 think24 it is unbelievable25 that26 God raises the dead? 26:9 Of course,27 I myself was convinced28 that it was necessary to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus the Nazarene. 26:10 And that is what I did in Jerusalem: Not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons by the authority I received29 from the chief priests, but I also cast my vote30 against them when they were sentenced to death.31 26:11 I punished32 them often in all the synagogues33 and tried to force34 them to blaspheme. Because I was so furiously enraged35 at them, I went to persecute36 them even in foreign cities.
26:12 “While doing this very thing,37 as I was going38 to Damascus with authority and complete power39 from the chief priests, 26:13 about noon along the road, Your Majesty,40 I saw a light from heaven,41 brighter than the sun, shining everywhere around42 me and those traveling with me. 26:14 When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic,43 ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? You are hurting yourself44 by kicking against the goads.’45 26:15 So I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord replied,46 ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 26:16 But get up and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this reason, to designate you in advance47 as a servant and witness48 to the things49 you have seen50 and to the things in which I will appear to you. 26:17 I will rescue51 you from your own people52 and from the Gentiles, to whom53 I am sending you 26:18 to open their eyes so that they turn54 from darkness to light and from the power55 of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share56 among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
26:19 “Therefore, King Agrippa,57 I was not disobedient58 to the heavenly59 vision, 26:20 but I declared to those in Damascus first, and then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea,60 and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God,61 performing deeds consistent with62 repentance. 26:21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple courts63 and were trying to kill me. 26:22 I have experienced64 help from God to this day, and so I stand testifying to both small and great, saying nothing except65 what the prophets and Moses said66 was going to happen: 26:23 that67 the Christ68 was to suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, to proclaim light both to our people69 and to the Gentiles.”70
26:24 As Paul71 was saying these things in his defense, Festus72 exclaimed loudly, “You have lost your mind,73 Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane!” 26:25 But Paul replied,74 “I have not lost my mind, most excellent Festus,75 but am speaking76 true and rational77 words. 26:26 For the king knows about these things, and I am speaking freely78 to him,79 because I cannot believe80 that any of these things has escaped his notice,81 for this was not done in a corner.82 26:27 Do you believe the prophets,83 King Agrippa?84 I know that you believe.” 26:28 Agrippa85 said to Paul, “In such a short time are you persuading me to become a Christian?”86 26:29 Paul replied, “I pray to God that whether in a short or a long time87 not only you but also all those who are listening to me today could become such as I am, except for these chains.”88
26:30 So the king got up, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them, 26:31 and as they were leaving they said to one another,89 “This man is not doing anything deserving90 death or imprisonment.” 26:32 Agrippa91 said to Festus,92 “This man could have been released93 if he had not appealed to Caesar.”94