Tuesday, July 28, 2020
Are Saul and Paul the Same Person?
There has always been some confusion over whether Saul and Paul is the same person. The confusion begins in the Book of Acts.
● “Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul . . . he brought him to Antioch . . . for a whole year they taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called ‘Christians’ in Antioch.” (Acts 11:25-26)
● “Then Agrippa said to Paul, `You almost persuade me to become a Christian.’” (Acts 26:28)
● “Then Saul, who also is called Paul . . .” (Acts 13:9a)
Based on the three verses above, we would assume they are references to the same person – but is he the Paul we read about in the Epistles?
The name “Saul” doesn’t appear in the Epistles. In order to answer that question we must examine the stories of the “conversion experiences” of Saul in Acts and Paul in Galatians. Pay close attention to the time periods and places mentioned in both accounts.
Saul’s experience is found in Acts 9 and it took place “on the road to Damascus.”
● For three days Saul was blind and stayed somewhere in Damascus.
● Ananias has a vision and goes to Saul, prays and lays hands on him.
● Saul is filled with the Holy Spirit and his eyesight returns.
● Ananias baptizes Saul.
● Saul spend “some days” with the disciples at Damascus.
● Saul goes to synagogues and preaches “Christ is the Son of God.”
● Some Jews plot to kill him and Saul hears about it.
● Saul goes to Jerusalem to join the disciples there.
● Barnabas takes Saul to the apostles.
The story of Paul’s experience is found in Galatians 1. He begins by telling readers this -- “God had chosen him from his mother’s womb to reveal the gospel of His Son.” Then he tells us he “received the revelation,” not when and where that happened. However, Paul has a lot to say about what he did after he received it:
● I did not immediately confer with any human.
● I did not go to Jerusalem to see the apostles.
● I immediately went to Arabia and stayed there for an unknown time period.
● I left Arabia and returned to Damascus.
● After staying in Damascus for three years, I went to Jerusalem to see Peter.
● I stayed with Peter in Jerusalem for fifteen days and saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.
● After I left Jerusalem I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
● Fourteen years after my first trip to Jerusalem, I made my second trip with Barnabas.
Acts and Galatians have very different stories.
● The Saul in Acts went to the apostles shortly after the Damascus road experience – Saul wanted to be with them and respected their authority.
● The Paul in Galatians, in a seventeen year period, only spent fifteen days with two apostles -- Peter and James. In addition, he claims have received “the only true gospel of the Christ” -- he is only true apostle too!”
The Saul/Paul in Acts appears to be a very different person than the Paul in Galatians. The Christianity that spread through the Gentile nations was based on the Gospel of the Paul in Galatians – not on the Gospel of Yeshua the Jesus of history recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke.
I will discuss the differences between them in future emails. I hope you found this informative and thank you for reading it. Please share and discuss it with others.
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