1 “Brothers and fathers, hear the defense that I now make before you.” 2 And when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said: 3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. 4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women, 5 as the high priest and the whole council of elders can bear me witness. From them I received letters to the brothers, and I journeyed toward Damascus to take those also who were there and bring them in bonds to Jerusalem to be punished. 6 “As I was on my way and drew near to Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone around me. 7 And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 And I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And he said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’ 9 Now those who were with me saw the light but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me. 10 And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all that is appointed for you to do.’ 11 And since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me, and came into Damascus. 12 “And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, 13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight.’ And at that very hour I received my sight and saw him. 14 And he said, ‘The God of our fathers appointed you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from his mouth; 15 for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’ 17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in one synagogue after another I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”
Paul begins to address the crowd in Hebrew. This causes the crowd to become even more quite. Hebrew was a sacred language to them, it also identified him as a Jew (not a Gentile as some in the crowd supposed)
Is there a "but . . ." in your story? A before Christ and an after Christ story? Can you tell people I was like this, but I'm not that way any more?
On the road to Damascus a bright light appears around Paul and a voice speaks. His fellow companions saw the light, but they did not hear the voice. A voice asks Paul why he was persecuting him? Paul asks, "Who are you, Lord?" The voice gives him a very clear answer. "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting." Paul had to be an excellent story teller. I can imagine that the audience, whether they believe him or not, is now hanging on his every word.
Jesus orders Paul to go to Damascus and with for further orders. There a devout Jew, who was a follower of Jesus, by the name of Ananias came to pray for Paul. Ananias had a good reputation among the Jews, the addition of his name only added credibility to his story.
Ananias then teaches Paul. The God of our fathers has selected him to understand His will and to hear Jesus' voice so that he could tell others what has happened. Now Ananias presents Paul with an altar call. Believe, repent and be baptized into your new faith, which he accepts.
Paul adds some information to Chapter 9. He is praying at the Temple and there he enters a trance. this isn't some kind of hypnotists trance. Jesus simply appeared to him and told his to get out of town fast. He was in big trouble. His argument was a simple one. "There isn't a synagogue anywhere that doesn't know what I have done." Paul and testified against people, for the purpose of imprisonment and execution. He approved with the stoning of Steve and even offered on site security for those who laid their belonging aside while they stoned Steven to death. Then Jesus tells him in essence, that he is sending him FAR away from this place - a place where you will be safe.
When you think that all is lost and there is no way that you can recover from your mistakes, remember. Paul had to leave, but he was never lost.
English Standard Version (ESV)