After Paul's Conversion:
Luke vs. Paul
What Luke Says
What Paul Says
What Luke Says:
1) After the First Version of Paul's Conversion
Luke Gives a Different Account
of Paul's Post-Conversion Activities
Paul Escapes a Jewish Plot to Kill him in Damascus
For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus,
9:20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God." 9:21 All who heard him were amazed and said, "Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?" 9:22 Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah.
9:23 After some time had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him,
9:24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night so that they might kill him;
9:25 but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket.
Luke has Paul Go Directly to Jerusalem after his Brief Stay in Damascus
9:26 When he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples;
and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 9:27 But Barnabas took him, brought him to the apostles, and described for them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus.
9:28 So he went in and out among them in Jerusalem,
speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.
9:29 He spoke and argued with the Hellenists;
but they were attempting to kill him.
9:30 When the believers learned of it,
they brought him down to Caesarea
and sent him off to Tarsus.
9:31 Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up.
Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
2) Again after the Second Version of Paul's "Conversion"
Luke has Paul again say
that he went Directly to Jerusalem
Paul Receives his Sight from Ananias in Damascus and is Baptized
The Lord said to me, 'Get up and go to Damascus; there you will be told everything that has been assigned to you to do.' 22:11 Since I could not see because of the brightness of that light,
those who were with me took my hand and led me to Damascus.
22:12 "A certain Ananias, who was a devout man according to the law and well spoken of by all the Jews living there, 22:13 came to me; and standing beside me, he said, 'Brother Saul, regain your sight!' In that very hour I regained my sight and saw him. 22:14 Then he said, 'The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the Righteous One and to hear his own voice; 22:15 for you will be his witness to all the world of what you have seen and heard. 22:16 And now why do you delay? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name.'
Immediately afterwards in the Jerusalem Temple
Luke has Paul Go into a "Trance" and Converse with Jesus
22:17 "After I had returned to Jerusalem
and while I was praying in the temple,
I fell into a trance 22:18 and saw Jesus saying to me,
'Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly,
because they will not accept your testimony about me.'
22:19 And I said, 'Lord, they themselves know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 22:20 And while the blood of your witness Stephen was shed, I myself was standing by, approving and keeping the coats of those who killed him.'
22:21 Then he said to me,
'Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.'"
What Paul Says:
Compare Luke's Accounts Above
to What Paul himself says in Galatians 1:15-24.
Paul first gives his own subdued account of his "conversion"
then Vehemently Denies Going to Jerusalem afterwards:
1:15 But when God,
who had set me apart before I was born
and called me through his grace,
was pleased 1:16 to reveal his Son to me,
so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles,
I did not confer with any human being,
1:17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem
to those who were already apostles before me,
(Compare to Luke's statements above: version 1, version 2)
but I went away at once into Arabia,
and afterwards I returned to Damascus.
1:18 Then after three years
I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas
and stayed with him fifteen days;
1:19 but I did not see any other apostle
except James the Lord's brother.
1:20 In what I am writing to you,
before God, I do not lie!
1:21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia,
1:22 and I was still unknown by sight
to the churches of Judea that are in Christ;
(Compare to Luke's statements above at 9:28 and 22:17)
1:23 they only heard it said,
"The one who formerly was persecuting us
is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy."
1:24 And they glorified God because of me.
After his Two-Week Visit with Peter
Three Years after his "Conversion,"
It was Fourteen more Years
before Paul returned to Jerusalem
2:1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem
with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me.
2:2 I went up in response to a revelation.
Then I laid before them
(though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders)
the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles,
in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain.
1. Whose Account is more Trustworthy? Paul's or Luke's?
Is Paul Changing his Story? (Galatians 1:15-24)
Is Paul Downplaying
his former Association with Jesus' Disciples
to Enhance his Claim to a Special Gospel
Revealed to him Directly by the Risen Jesus?
Is Luke Presenting a "Whitewash"? (Luke's versions)
Is Luke Trying to Put a Positive "Spin"
on an Unseemly Adversarial Relationship
between Paul and the Apostles?
Luke, after all, is the only Gospel that Describes Pentecost,
the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles,
whom he presents as Inspired with Superhuman Powers.
Is Luke Changing the Historical Facts
to Impress his Greco-Roman Readers
with Brotherly Harmony and Unity
among the Early Followers of Jesus?
2. Why is Paul Arguing with the "Hellenists" in 9:26?
Why are they trying to Kill him, when he is, in fact,
the Greatest Champion of their Cause?
Paul is in Constant Conflict with the Apostles and
The Judaizers and Hellenists Hate Paul and Want to Kill him.
The Jews and Temple Authorities Hate Paul and Want to Kill him.
The Greco-Romans Imprison Paul and Eventually Do Kill him.
Was Paul a Chronic Troublemaker,
an Extremist who Caused Problems wherever he Went?
Is Paul Known Today as "The Apostle,"
because a Skillful Editor, like Luke,
Successfully Cleaned Up his Image
and Suppressed and Downplayed
his Controversies in the Historical Record?