PAUL'S NARROW ESCAPE FROM DEATH 311
but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel in all the strictness of our law. I was as eager to serve God as you all are to-day. I persecuted and even killed the followers of Jesus. I bound and put in prison both men and women, as the high priest himself and all the elders can testify.
"It was also from them that I had letters to our fellow Jews in Damascus, and I was on my way to bring the Christians who were there back to Jerusalem in chains for punishment. While I was on my way not far from Damascus, suddenly, about noon, a bright light from heaven shone around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' 'Who art thou, Lord?' I asked. He answered, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, the one whom you are persecuting.' And I said, 'What shall I do, Lord ?' And the Lord said to me, ' Rise, and go to Damascus, and there it shall be told you what you are to do.' And when I could not see because of the bright light, I went to Damascus, led by the hand of those who were with me. And one Ananias, a religious man, well thought of by the Jews, came and, standing beside me, said, ' Brother Saul, receive your sight,' and that very minute I received my sight and saw him. And he said to me, 'The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One. For you shall be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.' And the Lord said to me, 'Go, for I will send you far away to those who are not Jews.' "
Up to this time the people had listened to him, but when they heard these words they shouted, "Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live," and they threw off their clothes and flung dust into the air until the commander ordered Paul to be taken into the castle and examined, by flogging, to find out why the people had shouted so against him. When they had tied him up with straps, Paul said to the officer who was standing by, "Is it lawful for you to flog a Roman citizen without trial?" When the officer heard this he reported it to the commander and said: "Take care what you do, for this man is a Roman citizen." Then the commander came to Paul and said, "Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?" He said, "Yes." The commander answered, "I paid a large sum for this citizenship"; and Paul said, "But I was born a Roman citizen." The men who were to have examined him, at once left him. And the commander, when he learned that Paul was a Roman citizen, was also afraid because he had bound him.