Connecting Paul’s Early Life as a Christian from Acts and Galatians

Connecting Paul’s Early Life as a Christian from Acts and Galatians

Volume 12, Number 12
Wayne Burger
December 30, 2007

Meditating on the Word
“In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2

“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the Columbine church of Christ, 7453 S. Zephyr Ct., Littleton, Colorado, 80128. E-mail: — Suggested topics are welcomed.
Vol. 12 No. 12 December 30, 2007

Connecting Paul’s Early Life as a Christian from Acts and Galatians

• He persecuted the church severely, Acts 9:1; Galatians 1:13

• Receiving letters of permission from the High Priest, he went to Damascus to bind Christians and bring them to Jerusalem, Acts 9:1-2

• Near the city of Damascus Jesus appeared to him and he became a believer, but was told to go into the city where he would be told what to do, Acts 9:3-18; 22:3-16; 26:9-18

• As soon as he was baptized he began to proclaim Jesus, Acts 9:19-22 (This may be before he went to Arabia and received the gospel by revelation from Jesus)

• It seems soon after his conversion he left Damascus, went into Arabia where he received the gospel by revelation, and then returned to Damascus, Galatians 1:15-17

• The total time of Paul in Damascus, including his trip to Arabia, was three years (from the time he left Jerusalem to go to Damascus to persecute Christians), Galatians 1:18 (He did not spend three years in Arabia as some teach)

• He then went to Jerusalem to see Peter (Cephas) where he stayed 15 days, Galatians 1:19

o Acts 9:23 says that “after many days” – that is, after three years

o Because the Jews were trying to kill him he had to escape in a basket let down through the wall of the city, Acts 9:24-25

o This occurred during the reign of Aretas, the king, II Corinthians 11:32-33

o At first the disciple in Jerusalem were afraid of him, but through Barnabas’ help they accepted him, Acts 9:26-27

o During the 15 days he was preaching, Acts 9:28-29

o The Jews were making preparation to kill him, Acts 9:29

o During the fifteen days while in the temple he had a vision where Christ told him to leave Jerusalem, Acts 22:17-21

o Therefore, he went to the area of Syria-Cilicia, to his hometown of Tarsus, by way of Caesarea, Acts 9:30; Galatians 1:21

o He worked in this area about four or five years, but we do not have record of what he did.

o He worked there until Barnabas came and got him to work with the church in Antioch, Acts 11:22-26

o They worked with the church a year before going on their first missionary journey, Acts 11:26; Acts 13:1-3

• When they returned to Antioch from the first missionary journey they discovered that there was a problem about circumcision, Acts 15:1-2; Galatians 2:1-1

o The fourteen years counts from the time of his conversion or when he left Jerusalem to persecute Christians in Damascus, Galatians 2:1

o He did not say that this was the second trip to Jerusalem because he had made a trip to Jerusalem while he was working with the church in Antioch before he went on the first missionary journey, Acts 11:27-30

o In Galatians he refers only to the trip to Jerusalem for the Jerusalem Conference because that relates to the problem with which he is dealing in Galatians – the circumcision problem

• Details of Acts 15 and Galatians 2 connected

o Men had come from Jerusalem and taught Gentiles in Antioch that they had to be circumcised in order to be saved, Acts 15:1, 22-24; Galatians 2:4

o At the suggestion of the brethren and approval of the Holy Spirit, Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem to discuss this with the apostles since men had come from Jerusalem and created a problem, Acts 15:2-3; Galatians 2:2

o They took with them Titus as a “test case” to see if he needed to be circumcised, Galatians 2:1-3

o It seems that when they got to Jerusalem they met with the church, then had a private meeting with the apostles and elders, and then met with the church to discuss the matter publicly, Acts 15:4; Galatians 2:2; Acts 15:5-6ff

o Three arguments were made to show that circumcision was not necessary

• Peter said that he was the first to preach to the Gentiles and it was not required of them, Acts 15:7-11 (Acts 10-11)

• Paul and Barnabas showed that God had blessed their work while on the missionary journey and they had not required circumcision, Acts 15:12

• James, the Lord’s brother, not the apostle (Acts 12:1-2) showed that the Old Testament foretold that the Gentiles would be accepted, Acts 15:13-18

o Therefore, a letter was written to explain that Gentiles did not have to be circumcised and it was sent, along with Silas and Judas, to verbally verify what had been discussed, Acts 15:22-29

Wayne Burger

Someone has written…

God is before me, He will be my guide;
God is behind me, no ill can betide;
God is beside me, to comfort and cheer;
God is around me, so why should I fear?

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