“Contrary to Popular Tradition, Paul Was Not Converted to Christianity on the Road to Damascus”
October 1, 2021 11:00 AM - 11:30 AM On Demand Save the Date
A “Damascus Road Experience” is synonymous with a spectacular conversion from one system of beliefs to a diametrically opposed set. It is based on the tradition that the arch-enemy of Christianity, Saul of Tarsus, was so converted to Christianity, after which he became the Apostle Paul, missionary and “Apostle to the Gentiles”.
This paper will challenge whether Paul was converted on the road near Damascus. It will be argued instead that he finally submitted to the gospel, repented, put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, was baptized with the Holy Spirit, and then baptized with water when challenged by Ananias in Damascus. To establish this assertion, Bruce will focus on Paul’s retelling of his experience to the crowd outside the Jerusalem temple (Acts 22:4–16). The conclusion reached is that Ananias’s words to him—that he was still “delaying/waiting/tarrying”, had not “washed away his sins,” nor “called on the Name of the LORD” (Acts 22:16)—prove he was still an unbeliever at that juncture.
The conclusion reached is that Ananias’s words to him—that he was still “delaying/waiting/tarrying”, had not “washed away his sins,” nor “called on the Name of the LORD” (Acts 22:16)—prove he was still an unbeliever at that juncture.
The point at issue is not some ivory-tower hair-splitting. Luke, despite his limited space, relates Paul’s conversion in detail three times—more verses are given to it than to Pentecost, the conversion of Cornelius, and the Jerusalem Council, which are all events of the first magnitude. It further illuminates concepts such as:
- “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31);
- Paul’s evangelistic appeals to the Old Testament as well as to the resurrection of Jesus Christ;
- “Baptismal Regeneration”;
- Whether Paul’s “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” was at his conversion or subsequent to it;
- Re-examining a key theme like this will demonstrate how serious we are about God’s written Word.
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