"Is this true?" the high priest asked.
"Brothers and fathers," he said, "listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he settled in Haran,
and said to him: Get out of your country and away from your relatives, and come to the land that I will show you.
"Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. And from there, after his father died, God had him move to this land in which you now live.
He didn't give him an inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, but He promised to give it to him as a possession, and to his descendants after him, even though he was childless.
God spoke in this way: His descendants would be strangers in a foreign country, and they would enslave and oppress them for 400 years.
I will judge the nation that they will serve as slaves, God said. After this, they will come out and worship Me in this place.
Then He gave him the covenant of circumcision. This being so, he fathered Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; Isaac did the same with Jacob, and Jacob with the 12 patriarchs.
"The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt, but God was with him
and rescued him out of all his troubles. He gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who appointed him governor over Egypt and over his whole household.
Then a famine came over all of Egypt and Canaan, with great suffering, and our forefathers could find no food.
When Jacob heard there was grain in Egypt, he sent our forefathers the first time.
The second time, Joseph was revealed to his brothers, and Joseph's family became known to Pharaoh.
Joseph then invited his father Jacob and all his relatives, 75 people in all,
and Jacob went down to Egypt. He and our forefathers died there,
were carried back to Shechem, and were placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a sum of silver from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
"As the time was drawing near to fulfill the promise that God had made to Abraham, the people flourished and multiplied in Egypt
until a different king ruled over Egypt who did not know Joseph.
He dealt deceitfully with our race and oppressed our forefathers by making them leave their infants outside so they wouldn't survive.
At this time Moses was born, and he was beautiful before God. He was nursed in his father's home three months,
and when he was left outside, Pharaoh's daughter adopted and raised him as her own son.
So Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was powerful in his speech and actions.
"As he was approaching the age of 40, he decided to visit his brothers, the sons of Israel.
When he saw one of them being mistreated, he came to his rescue and avenged the oppressed man by striking down the Egyptian.
He assumed his brothers would understand that God would give them deliverance through him, but they did not understand.
The next day he showed up while they were fighting and tried to reconcile them peacefully, saying, 'Men, you are brothers. Why are you mistreating each other?'
"But the one who was mistreating his neighbor pushed him away, saying: Who appointed you a ruler and a judge over us?
Do you want to kill me, the same way you killed the Egyptian yesterday?
"At this disclosure, Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he fathered two sons.
After 40 years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the desert of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush.
When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight. As he was approaching to look at it, the voice of the Lord came:
I am the God of your forefathers-- the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. So Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look.
"Then the Lord said to him: Take the sandals off your feet, because the place where you are standing is holy ground.
I have certainly seen the oppression of My people in Egypt; I have heard their groaning and have come down to rescue them. And now, come, I will send you to Egypt.
"This Moses, whom they rejected when they said, Who appointed you a ruler and a judge?-- this one God sent as a ruler and a redeemer by means of the angel who appeared to him in the bush.
This man led them out and performed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the desert for 40 years.
"This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your brothers.
He is the one who was in the congregation in the desert together with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our forefathers. He received living oracles to give to us.
Our forefathers were unwilling to obey him, but pushed him away, and in their hearts turned back to Egypt.
They told Aaron: Make us gods who will go before us. As for this Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we don't know what's become of him.
They even made a calf in those days, offered sacrifice to the idol, and were celebrating what their hands had made.
Then God turned away and gave them up to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: Did you bring Me offerings and sacrifices for 40 years in the desert, O house of Israel?
No, you took up the tent of Moloch and the star of your god Rephan, the images that you made to worship. So I will deport you beyond Babylon!
"Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the testimony in the desert, just as He who spoke to Moses commanded him to make it according to the pattern he had seen.
Our forefathers in turn received it and with Joshua brought it in when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our fathers, until the days of David.
He found favor in God's sight and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.
But it was Solomon who built Him a house.
However, the Most High does not dwell in sanctuaries made with hands, as the prophet says:
Heaven is My throne, and earth My footstool. What sort of house will you build for Me? says the Lord, or what is My resting place?
Did not My hand make all these things?
"You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Holy Spirit; as your forefathers did, so do you.
Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They even killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become.
You received the law under the direction of angels and yet have not kept it."
When they heard these things, they were enraged in their hearts and gnashed their teeth at him.
But Stephen, filled by the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven. He saw God's glory, with Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said,
"Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!"
Then they screamed at the top of their voices, stopped their ears, and rushed together against him.
They threw him out of the city and began to stone him. And the witnesses laid their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.
They were stoning Stephen as he called out: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!"
Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not charge them with this sin!" And saying this, he fell asleep.
Saul agreed with putting him to death. On that day a severe persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout the land of Judea and Samaria.
But devout men buried Stephen and mourned deeply over him.
Saul, however, was ravaging the church, and he would enter house after house, drag off men and women, and put them in prison.
So those who were scattered went on their way proclaiming the message of good news.
Philip went down to a city in Samaria and preached the Messiah to them.
The crowds paid attention with one mind to what Philip said, as they heard and saw the signs he was performing.
For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed, and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed.
So there was great joy in that city.
A man named Simon had previously practiced sorcery in that city and astounded the Samaritan people, while claiming to be somebody great.
They all paid attention to him, from the least of them to the greatest, and they said, "This man is called the Great Power of God!"
They were attentive to him because he had astounded them with his sorceries for a long time.
But when they believed Philip, as he proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.
Then even Simon himself believed. And after he was baptized, he went around constantly with Philip and was astounded as he observed the signs and great miracles that were being performed.
When the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had welcomed God's message, they sent Peter and John to them.
After they went down there, they prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit.
For He had not yet come down on any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
When Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money,
saying, "Give me this power too, so that anyone I lay hands on may receive the Holy Spirit."
But Peter told him, "May your silver be destroyed with you, because you thought the gift of God could be obtained with money!
You have no part or share in this matter, because your heart is not right before God.
Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.
For I see you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity."
"Please pray to the Lord for me," Simon replied, "so that nothing you have said may happen to me."
Then, after they had testified and spoken the message of the Lord, they traveled back to Jerusalem, evangelizing many villages of the Samaritans.
An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip: "Get up and go south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to desert Gaza."
So he got up and went. There was an Ethiopian man, a eunuch and high official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to worship in Jerusalem
and was sitting in his chariot on his way home, reading the prophet Isaiah aloud.
The Spirit told Philip, "Go and join that chariot."
When Philip ran up to it, he heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, "Do you understand what you're reading?"
"How can I," he said, "unless someone guides me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
Now the Scripture passage he was reading was this: He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb is silent before its shearer, so He does not open His mouth.
In His humiliation justice was denied Him. Who will describe His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.
The eunuch replied to Philip, "I ask you, who is the prophet saying this about-- himself or another person?"
So Philip proceeded to tell him the good news about Jesus, beginning from that Scripture.
As they were traveling down the road, they came to some water. The eunuch said, "Look, there's water! What would keep me from being baptized?"
[[And Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart you may." And he replied, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."]]
Then he ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.
When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him any longer. But he went on his way rejoicing.
Philip appeared in Azotus, and passing through, he was evangelizing all the towns until he came to Caesarea.
Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest
and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, either men or women, he might bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
As he traveled and was nearing Damascus, a light from heaven suddenly flashed around him.
Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"
"Who are You, Lord?" he said. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," He replied.
"But get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the sound but seeing no one.
Then Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing. So they took him by the hand and led him into Damascus.
He was unable to see for three days, and did not eat or drink.
Now in Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. And the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Here I am, Lord!" he said.
"Get up and go to the street called Straight," the Lord said to him, "to the house of Judas, and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, since he is praying there.
In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and placing his hands on him so he may regain his sight."
"Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.
And he has authority here from the chief priests to arrest all who call on Your name."
But the Lord said to him, "Go! For this man is My chosen instrument to carry My name before Gentiles, kings, and the sons of Israel.
I will certainly show him how much he must suffer for My name!"
So Ananias left and entered the house. Then he placed his hands on him and said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road you were traveling, has sent me so you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
At once something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized.
And after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul was with the disciples in Damascus for some days.
Immediately he began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues: "He is the Son of God."
But all who heard him were astounded and said, "Isn't this the man who, in Jerusalem, was destroying those who called on this name, and then came here for the purpose of taking them as prisoners to the chief priests?"
But Saul grew more capable, and kept confounding the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that this One is the Messiah.
After many days had passed, the Jews conspired to kill him,
but their plot became known to Saul. So they were watching the gates day and night intending to kill him,
but his disciples took him by night and lowered him in a large basket through [an opening in] the wall.
When he arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to associate with the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, since they did not believe he was a disciple.
Barnabas, however, took him and brought him to the apostles and explained to them how, on the road, Saul had seen the Lord, and that He had talked to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus.
Saul was coming and going with them in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
He conversed and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they attempted to kill him.
When the brothers found out, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace, being built up and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, and it increased in numbers.
As Peter was traveling from place to place, he also came down to the saints who lived in Lydda.
There he found a man named Aeneas, who was paralyzed and had been bedridden for eight years.
Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and make your own bed," and immediately he got up.
So all who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.
In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. She was always doing good works and acts of charity.
In those days she became sick and died. After washing her, they placed her in a room upstairs.
Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples heard that Peter was there and sent two men to him who begged him, "Don't delay in coming with us."
So Peter got up and went with them. When he arrived, they led him to the room upstairs. And all the widows approached him, weeping and showing him the robes and clothes that Dorcas had made while she was with them.
Then Peter sent them all out of the room. He knelt down, prayed, and turning toward the body said, "Tabitha, get up!" She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up.
He gave her his hand and helped her stand up. Then he called the saints and widows and presented her alive.
This became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.
And Peter stayed on many days in Joppa with Simon, a leather tanner.