While being led into the barracks, Paul is given permission to speak to the angry mob. So Paul stands in front of the crowd and begins sharing his testimony in Hebrew. When they heard him speak Hebrew, they kept silent for a moment.
Paul explains that he too ”taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.”
Paul goes on to tell them how everything in his life changed the moment he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. He recounts the time that Ananias came to him with a message from the Lord – “Then he said, ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth. For you will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’”
Paul says while he was praying in the synagogue in Jerusalem, the Lord told him, “Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.”
The crowd listened to Paul until he spoke of reaching the Gentiles – “And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, ‘Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!’ Then, as they cried out and tore off their clothes and threw dust into the air, the commander ordered him to be brought into the barracks, and said that he should be examined under scourging, so that he might know why they shouted so against him. And as they bound him with thongs, Paul said to the centurion who stood by, ‘Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?’”
When they discover that Paul is a Roman, they “withdrew from him; and the commander was also afraid after he found out that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him.” So, “the next day, because he wanted to know for certain why he was accused by the Jews, he released him from his bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down and set him before them.”
After Paul is struck across the mouth for speaking the truth, Paul says to Ananias the high priest, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me according to the law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the law?” Then Paul stirs up dissension between the Pharisees, who believe in resurrection, and the Sadducees, who don’t. “Now when there arose a great dissension, the commander, fearing lest Paul might be pulled to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.”
Meanwhile, about forty Jews are plotting to kill Paul. “They came to the chief priests and elders, and said, ‘We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul.’” But Paul’s nephew secretly informs the commander of their plans. So the commander sends Paul to Caesarea with a letter for governor Felix. In the letter the commander wrote, “I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains. And when it was told me that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him immediately to you, and also commanded his accusers to state before you the charges against him.”
Tomorrow Paul appears before Felix. Keep reading.