26:1Then Agrippa told Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” So Paul motioned with his hand and began his defense:
26:2“On the matter of charges made against me by the Judeans, King Agrippa, I am pleased to present my defense before you today,26:3especially since you are an expert on the customs and controversies concerning Judaism. Therefore I humbly ask that you patiently listen to me.
26:4“The manner in which I’ve lived my life, from my early youth in my nation as well as in Jerusalem, is something the Judeans are well aware of.26:5And having known me before from the beginning, they would have to admit that I lived as a Pharisee in the strictest sense of the word.26:6And now, it is because of my hope in the promise that came from God to our ancestors that I stand trial.26:7The twelve tribes of our people offer divine service night and day in this same hope, O King, yet here I am on trial for it!26:8How can you all consider it unbelievable that God should raise the dead?
26:9“I had considered it my duty to commit many acts against the name of Jesus the Nazarene,26:10including in Jerusalem. I even locked up many of the holy ones in jail, having obtained jurisdiction from the ruling priests, and I voted in favor of the death penalty.26:11I pursued them in the synagogues to punish them and force them to commit slander against God. I was in such an insane rage against them that I also persecuted them in foreign cities.
26:12“During one such persecution I was on my way to Damascus with the jurisdiction and permission of the ruling priests.26:13While on the road around noon, O King, a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shone all around me and my traveling companions.26:14When we had all dropped to the ground I heard a voice say to me in the Hebrew dialect, ‘Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me? Resistance is futile!’1
26:15“So I said, ‘Who are you, sir?’
“ ‘I am Jesus’, he answered, ‘the one you are persecuting!26:16Now get up and stand on your feet, because the reason I appeared to you is that you were prepared in advance to be a slave and a witness, both of what you have seen and of what I will show you.26:17I will set you apart from the Judeans, as well as from the non-Judeans to whom I am commissioning you.26:18You are to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the jurisdiction of The Adversary to that of God, and to obtain for them an acquittal for their failures and an inheritance along with those who have been made holy by faith in me.’
26:19“King Agrippa, I did not react to this heavenly vision with hostility,26:20but went at once to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem, to those throughout the province of Judea, and to the non-Judeans. I proclaimed that they must change their minds and turn back to God, and then live accordingly.26:21It was on this account that the Judeans took hold of me to arrest me when I was in the temple compound.
26:22“But because God has come to my aid to this day, I stand here testifying to both the lowly and the exalted. I have said nothing beyond what Moses and the prophets said would happen:26:23that the Anointed would suffer, and that as the first to rise from the dead he would proclaim light to Judeans and non-Judeans alike.”
26:24As he was presenting his defense, Festus shouted, “You’re insane, Paul! Too much education has driven you mad!”
26:25“On the contrary, great Festus,” Paul replied, “I am speaking divinely-given rational truth.26:26Since the king is adept at what I’ve been talking about so boldly, I’m sure that none of this has escaped his notice; this whole affair did not happen in a corner.26:27King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do!”
26:28“Do you think that you can persuade me to become a Christian2 in such a short time?” Agrippa asked Paul.
26:29“Short time or long,” Paul replied, “My intent before God is that not only you but all who have heard me today will become as I am, except for these chains!”
26:30Then the king, the governor, Bernice, and those sitting with them stood up,26:31and as they left the court they said to each other, “This person has done nothing worthy of the death penalty or imprisonment.”26:32And Agrippa said to Festus, “He could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar.”