I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cilicia, but I was brought up in Jerusalem, educated as a disciple of Gamaliel in the strict way laid down in the laws received from our fathers, and devoted to God, as you all are.
You know what I did in the past among the Jews. You know how bitterly I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it and how in my zeal for the laws and customs handed down from my forefathers I did more than any of my fellow countrymen. I indeed believed that it was my duty to do all in my power to oppose the cause of Jesus of Nazareth. This I did in Jerusalem. With authority from the high priests, I put many of Jesus' followers in prison. When they were put to death, I voted against them. In all the synagogues I often punished them and tried to make them speak against the name of Jesus, and in my insane fury I followed them even to distant cities.
When I was travelling to Damascus on this business, with written authority from the high priests, I saw, on the road in the middle of the day, a light from heaven, more dazzling than the glare of the sun, shining around me and those who were travelling with me. We fell to the ground, and I heard a voice say to me in Hebrew, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads." I asked, "Who art thou, Lord?" and the Lord answered, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. Rise and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you to appoint you to be my servant and a witness to what you have seen and to the things that I will show you. I chose you from the Jews and the other peoples to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light, from the power of satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of their sins and a place among those who have given themselves to me because they believe in me."
When the God, who had set me apart even from my birth and called me by his love, chose to reveal his Son in me that I might tell to other races the good news about him, I at once went into Arabia instead of talking with any one else or going up to Jerusalem to see those who had been apostles before me. When I came back I preached first to those at Damascus. There the governor, appointed by king Aretas, put guards in the city to arrest me, but I was lowered in a basket through a window in the wall and so escaped from their hands.