"And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our fathers that I am on trial today. This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. O king, it is because of this hope that the Jews are accusing me. Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?" NIV translation
The denial continues as Paul points out that they want to deny the resurrection of Jesus. This goes back to a plan that the chief priests came up with when the tomb was found to be empty (see Matthew 28:11-15). Paul faithfully proclaimed the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead and that we will be raised with Him.
"'I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth.'" NIV translation
Paul identifies himself with those that are persecuting him as he reminds them that he used to be one of them. It is hard for us to understand and identify ourselves with those who are attacking us but we, like Paul, must remember that we were once enemies of God just like those that are attacking His children. There is also the hope that, when God gets a hold of them, He can use them in a mighty way for His kingdom just as He did with Paul.
"'And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many a time I went from one synagogue to another to have them punished, and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them.'" NIV translation
Paul continues to identify with them as he explains the persecution that he led against the early followers of The Way. He explains that, like those that are accusing him, he even went to foreign cities in order to persecute them. We, too, can identify with those around us by remembering that we were once like them. It is easy for us, as believers, to develop a "holier than thou" attitude towards those that we see sinning but we must remember that we were once in their position.
"'On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. About noon, O king, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads."'" NIV translation
Paul continues to explain that he was actually on his way to persecute more believers when God intervened. The normal reaction when a man comes face to face with God is that the man falls to his knees in worship and that is just what Paul and his companions did. A goad was a stick that was sharpened to a point on one end and flattened on the other end. It was used by farmers to get the oxen in the field to move and to keep the plow clean. Kicking against the goads speaks of rebellion and, just as it was pointless for the oxen to kick when prodded by the farmer, this passage reminds us that God is in control and has a plan for the lives of each of us (see Ephesians 2:10). He goads us along the way in order to keep us moving in the right direction. Sometimes, as here in the case of Saul/Paul, God has to show up in a big way.