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Chapter 26

1Then Agrippa said to Paul,

“You are at liberty to speak in your own defense.”

So Paul stretched out his hand and began his defense.

2“I think myself fortunate, King Agrippa,” said he, “that it is before you that I am to defend myself today against all the things the Jews charge me with, 3especially because you are so familiar with all the Jewish customs and questions. I beg you, therefore, to listen to me with patience. 4The way I lived from my youth up, spending my early life among my own nation and at Jerusalem, is well known to all Jews, 5for they have known from the first, if they are willing to give evidence, that I was a Pharisee and my life was that of the strictest sect of our religion. 6Even now it is for my hope in the promise that God made to our forefathers that I stand here on trial, 7the promise in the hope of seeing which fulfilled our twelve tribes serve God zealously night and day. It is about this hope, your Majesty, that I am accused by some Jews. 8Why do you all think it incredible that God should raise the dead? 9I once thought it my duty vigorously to oppose the cause of Jesus of Nazareth. 10That was what I did at Jerusalem when on the authority of the high priests I put many of God’s people in prison. When they were put to death, I cast my vote against them, 11and many a time in all the synagogues I had them punished, and tried to force them to say impious things. In my extreme rage against them I even pursued them to distant towns. 12I was once going to Damascus on this business, authorized and commissioned by the high priests, 13when on the road at noon, your Majesty, I saw a light from heaven brighter than the sun flash around me and my fellow-travelers. 14We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice say to me in Hebrew, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me? You cannot kick against the goad!’ 15‘Who are you, sir?’ said I. The Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16But get up and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for the express purpose of appointing you to serve me and to testify to what you have seen and to the visions you will have of me. 17I will save you from your people and from the heathen, to whom I will send you 18to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from Satan’s control to God, so that they may have their sins forgiven and have a place among those who are consecrated through faith in me.’ 19Therefore, King Agrippa, I did not disobey that heavenly vision, 20but first to the people of Damascus and Jerusalem and then all over Judea, and even to the heathen I preached that they must repent and turn to God and live as men who have repented should. 21That is why the Jews seized me in the Temple and tried to kill me. 22To this day I have had God’s help and I stand here to testify to high and low alike, without adding a thing to what Moses and the prophets declared would happen, 23if the Christ was to suffer and by being the first to rise from the dead was to proclaim the light to our people and to the heathen.”

24As he said this in his defense, Festus called out,

“You are raving, Paul! Your great learning is driving you mad!”

25“I am not raving, your Excellency Festus,” said Paul, “I am telling the sober truth. 26The king knows about this, and I can speak to him with freedom. I do not believe that he missed any of this, for it did not happen in a corner! 27King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do!”

28“You are in a hurry to persuade me and make a Christian of me!” Agrippa said to Paul.

29“In a hurry or not,” said Paul, “I would to God that not only you, but all who hear me today, might be what I am—except for these chains!”

30Then the king rose, with the governor and Bernice and those who had sat with them, 31and after leaving the room, in talking the matter over together, they said,

“This man has not done anything to deserve death or imprisonment.”

32“He might have been set at liberty,” said Agrippa to Festus, “if he had not appealed to the emperor.”

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