Paul and Jesus: The True Story

By David Wenham | Go to book overview
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3: New directions

It is hard to imagine how deep the shock of what had happened to him must have been for Paul and how humiliating it must have been for the once-proud Pharisee to come into Damascus, helpless and blind. Things had not turned out as planned, to say the least!


But Acts describes a Christian 'disciple', Ananias, being sent by God to Paul (9.10–19). Acts suggests that Ananias was scared, because Paul's reputation as a brutal persecutor of the Church had preceded him. It is not unlikely that some of those whom he had persecuted in Jerusalem had fled to Damascus, and it must have been terrifying to hear that their arch-enemy had come with a body of men to pursue them. The Christians might understandably have been slow to believe that Paul's professed conversion was genuine; could it all be a clever trap that he was setting? Despite his fears, Ananias went to Paul, placed his hands on him, and addressed him (strikingly) as 'Brother Saul'. Through his ministry Paul's eyesight was restored, and he was baptized. We are not told any details of his baptism, but it must have been extraordinary for the man who had so opposed Christians and Christian baptism to go down into the water, confessing Jesus as Lord, and now to be part of the Christian community.

Paul does not tell us anything about Ananias in his letters, which is hardly surprising since in the letters we have he only alludes to his conversion. Some people have thought that his insistence in Galatians that he did not receive his gospel from any man (1.12) tells against the Acts story. But that statement cannot be taken to mean that Paul learned nothing of Jesus from any human being at all: Paul must have learned things from the Christians he persecuted (even if he did not agree with them then), and he tells us in other parts of his writings that he 'received' Christian traditions (1 Corinthians 11.23; 15.3); this is something we shall look at in more


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Paul and Jesus: The True Story


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