Paul’s Conversion

Leading the Jewish persecution of Christians was a man named Saul (in Hebrew) or Paul (Greek) of Tarsus. He was a committed Pharisee of the tribe of Benjamin who treated Christianity as a Jewish heresy to be stamped out. After persecuting Christians in Jerusalem causing them to flee to Antioch, he requested that the Jewish authorities grant him permission to continue persecuting the followers of Jesus beyond Palestine. His request was granted and he embarked on his travel with several helpers to Damascus. On his way, he was engulfed by light and saw Jesus Christ. After a short dialogue with the Risen Christ, Paul lost his eyesight and did not eat or drink for three days. When he was ready to become Christian, Christ appeared to Ananias and commanded him to heal Paul and baptize him. With some initial hesitation, Ananias acceded, and Paul became an evangelist of the gospel he once sought to suppress. There are two accounts of the events following Paul’s conversion; one is recorded by his companion, Luke, in the book of Acts and another is recorded by Paul himself in the epistle to the Galatians. Both accounts emphasize and omit different events. According to Acts, Paul begins preaching to Jews around him in the synagogues. Understandably, he is met with doubts about his loyalty to the gospel. Then, Paul leaves the city in secret and heads to Jerusalem to meet the disciples. According to the account in Galatians, Paul goes to Arabia first on a retreat then to Damascus. Three years later, Paul would see Cephas and James only.