1 “Brethren and fathers, hear my defense before you now.”
2 And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent. Then he said:
3 “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.
4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women,
5 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 made his defense on the same stairs on which Pilate condemned Christ 26 or so years earlier.
zealous toward God (v.3) — For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:2-3).
Note how skillfully he implies that he is no longer [a zealot] while Acts 21:20 informs us that even the Jewish believers were still zealots for the law. — Stam, page 48.