Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'You have permission to speak about yourself.' So Paul, with outstretched arm, proceeded to make his defence.
'As regards all the accusations brought against me by the Jews,' he said, 'I think myself fortunate, King Agrippa, in being about to defend myself to-day before you,
who are so familiar with all the customs and speculations that prevail among the Jews; and for this reason, I pray you, give me a patient hearing.
'The kind of life I have lived from my youth upwards, as exemplified in my early days among my nation and in Jerusalem, is known to all the Jews.
For they all know me of old--if they would but testify to the fact--how, being an adherent of the strictest sect of our religion, my life was that of a Pharisee.
And now I stand here impeached because of my hope in the fulfilment of the promise made by God to our forefathers--
the promise which our twelve tribes, worshipping day and night with intense devotedness, hope to have made good to them. It is on the subject of this hope, Sir, that I am accused by the Jews.
Why is it deemed with all of you a thing past belief if God raises the dead to life?
'I myself, however, thought it a duty to do many things in hostility to the name of Jesus, the Nazarene.
And that was how I acted in Jerusalem. Armed with authority received from the High Priests I shut up many of God's people in various prisons, and when they were about to be put to death I gave my vote against them.
In all the synagogues also I punished them many a time, and tried to make them blaspheme; and in my wild fury I chased them even to foreign towns.
'While thus engaged, I was travelling one day to Damascus armed with authority and a commission from the High Priests,
and on the journey, at noon, Sir, I saw a light from Heaven--brighter than the brightness of the sun--shining around me and around those who were travelling with me.
We all fell to the ground; and I heard a voice which said to me in Hebrew, ''Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? You are finding it painful to kick against the ox-goad.'
''Who art Thou, Lord?' I asked. ''I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied.
'But rise, and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for the very purpose of appointing you My servant and My witness both as to the things you have already seen and as to those in which I will appear to you.
I will save you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I send you to open their eyes,
that they may turn from darkness to light and from the obedience to Satan to God, in order to receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified through faith in Me.'
'Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision;
but I proceeded to preach first to the people in Damascus, and then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judaea, and to the Gentiles, that they must repent and turn to God, and live lives consistent with such repentance.
'It was on this account that the Jews seized me in the Temple and tried to kill me.
Having, however, obtained the help which is from God, I have stood firm until now, and have solemnly exhorted rich and poor alike, saying nothing except what the Prophets and Moses predicted as soon to happen,
since the Christ was to be a suffering Christ, and by coming back from the dead was then to be the first to proclaim a message of light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.'
As Paul thus made his defence, Festus exclaimed in a loud voice, 'You are raving mad, Paul; and great learning is driving you mad.'
'I am not mad, most noble Festus,' replied Paul; 'I am speaking words of sober truth.
For the King, to whom I speak freely, knows about these matters. I am not to be persuaded that any detail of them has escaped his notice; for these things have not been done in a corner.
King Agrippa, do you believe the Prophets? I know that you believe them.'
Agrippa answered, 'In brief, you are doing your best to persuade me to become a Christian.'
'My prayer to God, whether briefly or at length,' replied Paul, 'would be that not only you but all who are my hearers to-day, might become such as I am--except these chains.'
So the King rose, and the Governor, and Bernice, and those who were sitting with them;
and, having withdrawn, they talked to one another and said, 'This man is doing nothing for which he deserves death or imprisonment.'
And Agrippa said to Festus, 'He might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed to Caesar.'