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How Did Paul Meet Jesus
The story of how Paul the Apostle met Jesus is a fascinating one. Much of his story is contested, however, making it an interesting piece of Christian history to learn.
Paul was born Saul around the year 5–6 AD in the city of Tarsus, in the Roman province of Cilicia. He was educated at the Greek city of Athens and then spent a substantial portion of his life as a zealous advocate of Judaism, violently persecuting early followers of Jesus who were known as Christians at the time.
During this time, he participated in the executions of several prominent believers in Christ, including an ancient figure named Stephen. For this reason, he is mentioned in the book of Acts among those who were active in killing Christians. Around 36 AD, Saul traveled to Jerusalem where he participated in the interrogation and imprisonment of other believers in Christ.
Shortly after this event took place, though, he experienced a dramatic vision that completely changed his perspective on life and religion. He later became known as Paul and became one of the most influential preachers and writers during that time.
Visit to Jerusalem
After his conversion, Paul made several trips to Jerusalem to visit with other Christians and the leaders of the church. He also made the trip to deliver contributions of money to support the church in Jerusalem.
During this time, Christianity was a movement that spread through word of mouth and traveling preachers. There were no printed Bibles at this time, so people relied on hearing preaching from other people or listening to people read scripture.
Since Paul was such a prominent leader in the Christian faith at this time, his trips to Jerusalem caused some tension. Some followers of Jesus believed that Jews needed to be the only ones coming to faith in Jesus as the messiah.
By him visiting and bringing contributions of money from other regions, he was proving that not all people coming to faith in Jesus were Jewish. This may have caused some conflict within the church in Jerusalem, but we do not have any specifics.
Conversion on the road to Damascus
Another famous story of how people met Jesus is the story of Saul of Tarsus, who later became known as the apostle Paul.
Like so many other followers of Jesus, his conversion was on the road to somewhere else. In this case, it was the road from Jerusalem to Damascus.
Saul was on his way to persecute Christians in Damascus when he had a dramatic encounter with Jesus. It left him blind for three days and radically changed his life. He went from being an opponent of Christianity to one of its most active and important advocates.
What happened to him? Many scholars think it was a vision, or what we would call a near-death experience today. Others think he might have had some kind of epileptic seizure, which can involve visions or hallucinations. Or it could have been something completely different.
Baptized by John the Baptist
Another story tells us that Paul met Jesus through his close connection with John the Baptist.
According to Romans 1:13, Paul said he was “baptized into the name of Jesus.” This may have happened during his trip to Jerusalem where he says he saw several apostles and spoke with them (Acts 9:26).
It is also possible that this happened during his conversion experience when he saw the heavenly light and heard a voice saying, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5).
This is an important point: For Paul, being “baptized in the name of Jesus” does not mean being dunked in water. It refers instead to his own personal experience of God through his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.
Studied with Gamaliel
Gamaliel was a teacher of the law and a leader of the Jews. He is believed to have been involved in the persecution of the followers of Jesus, also known as Christians.
After Gamaliel died, his son Judah succeeded him as leader of the Jews and opponent of Christianity. According to tradition, Judah was one of the Most hostile enemies of Christianity during the persecutions under Diocletian, when many Christians were martyred.
Gamaliel is mentioned in the Bible in Acts 5:34-39. In this passage, Peter has just healed a man who was sitting at the gate called Beautiful and who sold cloaks for a living. When Gamaliel and his servants heard about what had happened, they ran down to investigate.
Peter explained what had happened and how he had witnessed Jesus alive after his death but didn’t explain that he was God. Gamaliel said: “Leave him alone! Let us all go back to your house, and let him tell us what happened”.
Persecutor of Christians
After his dramatic conversion, Paul spent the next few years in Jerusalem studying with the other apostles. He also traveled with Barnabas, another apostle, on a mission to teach the message of Jesus to non-Jews.
This was an important part of his life, as it helped him learn more about Jesus and how to teach others about him. It is believed that he also went on a mission to Cyprus and Greece during this time.
Later, he would begin his own missions, but first he had to establish churches in Judea. During this time, he was arrested several times for being a Christian and was once beaten so severely that he lost his sight. He continued preaching despite this, and eventually died for his beliefs while in prison.
The conversion of Saul the Pharisee?
The conversion of Saul the Pharisee is a dramatic story that illustrates the power of Jesus Christ. Many people believe that his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus was the beginning of Christianity.
Saul was deeply committed to his religion and spent his life persecuting those who were not like him. He was very zealous in his work, and he did not tolerate anyone who was not zealous like him.
One day, he had a vision of Jesus and he heard Him say, “Saul, why are you persecuting me?” At that moment, Saul fell down and heard a voice saying, “Get up and go into the city, and you will be told what to do.”
He got up and went into the city, but he didn’t know what to do. He stayed there for a few days until he had another vision of Jesus. This time, Jesus told him to go into the temple and pray for forgiveness for what he had done (Acts 22:12).
The voice of Jesus
Once you hear the voice of Jesus, it is hard to ignore him. Many people experience Jesus in their everyday lives, through little things like an inspiring thought or a comforting feeling.
Some even experience Jesus in the form of a direct voice that speaks to them. This can be a powerful experience, one that strengthens their faith and reassures them of Jesus’ presence in their life.
Paul experienced Jesus’ voice while he was still persecuting believers in him. One night he had a vision of Jesus and heard his voice telling him what to do. This made such an impact on Paul that he changed his life completely and started preaching about Jesus instead of persecuting those who knew him.
For some, hearing the voice of Jesus can be confusing or misinterpreted. If you feel like you are hearing the voice of someone but they aren’t there, it could be a sign of something called auditory hallucinations.
Friends tell him about Jesus
One of the most common ways that people meet Jesus is through their friends.
Many people have told their friends about Jesus, and many times, their friends have come to know Jesus because of it. You can do the same!
Many of us have small groups we meet in with our friends to study the Bible, pray, and just hang out. If you feel led to share Jesus with your friends, invite them to your small group!
Your group could be the place they encounter Jesus for the first time. Inviting your friends to group could also strengthen friendships and deepen relationships.
The greatest thing about knowing Jesus is that he is faithful. If you invite your friend to group but they don’t hear about Jesus, he or she will still be welcomed into heaven. It’s not up to us who knows him—he knows himself.