Why Didn’t Paul Immediately Go to Jerusalem?

When Paul encounters the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus, he immediately goes to the synagogues in Damascus  (Acts 9:19-25).  Other than a short time of recovery after his encounter, there is no indication that Paul spent any significant time “on retreat” thinking about his experience of Jesus.  The synagogues Paul visits are likely the very ones which informed the Sanhedrin that Hellenistic Jews were proclaiming that Jesus was the Messiah and were expecting Paul to arrive and argue against the Hellenists who have recently arrived from Jerusalem with this new idea that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah.

The content of Paul’s message is that Jesus was in fact the Son of God (Acts 9).  This is a messianic title drawn from Psalm 2.  Jesus was the long awaited son of David, the ultimate heir of the Davidic Covenant.  That Paul preaches Jesus is as the Son of God is significant because it is the first time such language has appeared in Acts; it will appear a second time in Acts 13:3.  This is likely a clue that the synagogue speech in Acts 13 is intended as representative of Paul’s speech before Jews in a synagogue. Paul’s presentation in the synagogue was the exact opposite of expectations – It is little wonder that there was a strong reaction in the synagogues against Paul!

After his encounter with Jesus, we might have thought Paul would have returned to Jerusalem and immediately confronted the Sanhedrin and the High Priest, the very people approved of Paul’s mission to Damascus in the first place. But he does not return to Jerusalem for three years and, according to his own testimony on Gal 1:16-17, when he did go up to Jerusalem, it was only for a short visit of fifteen days.  As Martin Hengel points out, Jerusalem is where the apostles are to be found, not Galilee or elsewhere in Judea.  If Jerusalem was the focal point of the messianic preaching of the apostles, why did Paul not immediately go there and work with Peter and John in the Temple courts.  he could have gone back to the Synagogue of the Freedmen and reasoned with the Hellenists there.  But rather than go to Jerusalem, Paul goes into “Arabia” for three years.

Hengel and Schwemer suggest three reasons for Paul’s activities immediately after his conversion.  First, Paul was a zealous persecutor of the church and he transferred that zeal into  preaching the gospel.  He met a resurrected and glorified Jesus who commissioned him as the apostle to the Gentiles.  It is only natural that he would want to immediately begin this new task, given to him by his Savior.

Second, belief in an imminent return of Jesus mean that evangelistic activity needed to cover as wide an area as possible.  Evangelism in Jerusalem was already underway and the apostles were stationed there to continue their work.  Later in his career Paul will constantly move out into un-reached areas of the world, creating strategic bases in larger cities from which the local churches can continue the work of evangelism.  For Paul, Arabia was an unreached area and he was uniquely suited to the task as a Hellenistic Jew.

Third, it would have been extremely dangerous to return since he has “switched sides” and now was a passionate supported of Jesus as the Messiah.  While Paul is not described as avoiding persecution, he may have thought that it would be better to have success elsewhere rather than go and be executed by his former masters!

It is possible there are other reasons for Paul’s three years in Arabia.  I think that Hengel and Swchemer are certainly correct that Paul’s zeal was channeled from persecution to evangelism and that Arabia was an “unreached” area.  I think that Paul’s calling to be the “light to the Gentiles” is a motivating factor as well.   He immediately acted on that calling by attempting to do evangelism in the Nabatean kingdom.

What else may have motivated Paul to avoid Jerusalem for so long after his conversion?

Bibliography:  Martin Hengel and Anna Maria Schwemer, Paul Between Damascus and Antioch (Louisville: Westminster / John Knox, 1997), 94.

26 thoughts on “Why Didn’t Paul Immediately Go to Jerusalem?

  1. I’ve never really thought about why Paul went where he did, but I can see why these questions could be important!
    Reading over this post and the text, I’ve come to realize that my head, heart, and intuition all say very different things concerning this discussion. Playing out the different scenarios that are presented here, my heart says that he was concerned about the imminent return of Christ (1Thessalonians 5:2 “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”) which would therefore fuel his delayed return to Jerusalem. My head says that he was a little worried about the persecution that would ensue if he returned to Jerusalem so suddenly. How could he expect different since that was what his previous lifestyle had encouraged towards Christians.
    But prominent over them all, my intuition says that Paul began his ministry as soon as he could because of the zeal that he had for Christ. Polhill comments, “The persecutor had been completely turned around: from persecutor to proclaimer.” (57) In 1 Peter, Paul says, “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?” (3:13). Paul obviously had always owned some very strong passions for the things he believed he and I feel that his past life only testifies to that.
    So that’s my take on that!

  2. I would agree with the position that Elizabeth is taking on reasons for Paul not returning to Jerusalem right away, but I think that there could be a little more to it. Paul was obviously very zealous for his faith, and as was mentioned, was going to argue against the Hellenists who believed that Jesus was the Messiah. Me thoughts are this; Paul experiences the life changing presence of Christ that simply tells him to go into Damascus and “you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:5) There is no point recorded in Acts 9 where he is given specific instructions to “do” anything. If he was originally intending to go and argue against Christianity, why wouldn’t he (after his encounter with Christ) go and do the exact opposite? As it says in Acts 9:21-22 the people who expected one thing out of him were “astonished” and “baffled”. His ministry would be even more powerful because of the drastic change in his life. Imagine the ministry that an avowed atheist like Richard Dawkins would have if, while people were expecting him to give a presentation on atheism, instead preached the life changing message of the Gospel and its effect on his life. I think Paul preached in Damascus right away because it was where he was told to go, it was where he was expected to be, and the Gospel had such an impact on his life that he had to preach it right away.

  3. I would agree with David on this point. Jesus instructed Paul to continue on to Damascus where he would be given back his sight by Ananias rather than going back to Jerusalem. Now, in the blog above states, “Other than a short time of recovery after his encounter, there is no indication that Paul spent any significant time “on retreat” thinking about his experience of Jesus.” But how brief was that time? Acts 9 says that Paul was blind for three days. Then a little later on in verse 19 it says he spent some days with the disciples. Verse twenty then goes on to say that “…immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues…” Was his teaching in the synagogues immediately after being healed and the staying-with-the-disciples bit just a side note or was Paul stay with the disciples an event that occurred before he went to the synagogues?

  4. After reading and looking through Acts 9 a little more, the one line that really caught my attention was, “The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus (Acts 9:7-8).” The line, “So they led him by hand into Damascus.” is the line that made me think. I think Paul went to Damascus because the men with him led him there. They were speechless and saw nothing like Paul did when Jesus shown himself to Paul. Paul was left blind and basically helpless so the men with him did what they knew to do and continued on with the journey. Paul was healed by Ananias in Damascus and I think he continued to witness there for three years because he had been converted and was making an impact for the Lord there. He continue there until he was basically forced out by the Jews who were inspiring to kill him.

  5. I believe that it was probably a combination of circumstances that kept Paul from returning to Jerusalem directly after his conversion. Paul’s belief in Jesus’ eminent return and, therefore, a need to rapidly spread the message of salvation most compelling. The text accurately dubbed Paul a “pioneer” missionary who “wanted to cover as much of the world with the gospel as quickly as he could (98).” Paul’s zeal as a pharisee carried over into the revelation and conviction that Jesus Christ was the Messiah and His return was near. Paul acted on this passion by bringing the message of grace and salvation by faith to people that would be forever lost without it. As Paul wrote in Romans 10:14, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”

    The fact that Paul persecuted so many Christians in Jerusalem probably made the thought of returning seem less appealing as well. Not only would there be a fear of possible retribution, there would also be the simple fact that people may not be interested in listening to the man who just harassed and beat them. Even if they forgave Paul, I imagine that there would still be feelings of bitterness and skepticism surrounding his work. Paul probably thought it would be better to rebuild his reputation in Jerusalem by doing God’s work elsewhere, respecting the hurt he caused others while at the same time increasing his overall effectiveness in reaching Gentiles.

  6. I like what you said Scott about Paul’s decision of not going back to Jerusalem after his conversion was a combination of circumstances. I rarely ever is just one thing that drives us to make our decisions. I would say the biggest influence on Paul’s decision was his belief in Christ’s eminent return. It gave him a zeal to spread the message as quickly as he could. The text calls Paul a “pioneer missionary” because he took the gospel places that it had never been before (Polhill 98). Paul was one of many with the missionary task of the gospel, and he knew it would be redundant to work in places that had already been or was currently being evangelized to by others (Polhill 98). I would say this is possibly his strongest reason for not going to Jerusalem after his conversion. The disciples were already in Jerusalem spreading the gospel and working with the people, so there was no need for Paul to go back to Jerusalem after his conversion. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for Paul to go to Damascus, Antioch, and then westward from there. Paul had a zeal for spreading the message and an urgency due to his belief of the eminent return of Christ, so why would he waste precious time going to a place where the message already was.

  7. This is a very good question, that, I must admit, I too have not thought about before. It never dawned on me that Paul would have gone back to Jerusalem right after his conversion. Why would he NOT want to go back? It would be my very first instinct to go back to Jerusalem—the very place that was giving out the permission to kill off Christians in the first place, and try to convince them that they were all wrong and he had seen the light, get them to stop persecuting the Christians, or to at least make the point that they were wrong…or so I thought. After reading the above reasons on why Paul did not immediately return to Jerusalem however, it made a bit more sense of why he would not have simply just gone back. Out of the three above reasons, I am more likely to lean towards the idea that Paul was concerned that Christ would be returning and because God had given him the task of reaching the Gentiles and other unreached people groups, (Acts 26:16,17) he needed to cover as much ground possible and as Phil Long states “Evangelism in Jerusalem was already underway and the apostles were stationed there to continue their work.” Paul was just doing what God had told him to do. “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and then to the Gentiles…” (Acts 26:19,20a). I think that it did help that he was naturally a zealous man. This made him the perfect candidate to go out and preach! He took his once passion to kill off the Christians for slandering all that he believed, and changed it into a passion to going out and preaching truth. The sole fact that he was zealous to preach the gospel though, in my opinion, was not the sole reason for him not returning to Jerusalem. I have to agree with Elizabeth here by saying that I don’t agree with the reasoning that Paul would have not gone back to Jerusalem for the fear of being persecuted. Paul was willing to out and evangelize despite any risk. He was beaten, flogged, threatened, thrown in jail and even stoned for preaching this gospel but he never stopped. He would not let the fear of persecution stop him from going back to Jerusalem if that was what God had desired him to do. Using the same verse Elizabeth had, 1st Peter 3:13, I prove my point.

  8. Why did Paul start his ministry in Damascus, rather than heading straight to Jerusalem to confront the Sanhedrin? In my opinion, it was much more of God’s plan than it was Paul’s. Paul was just following the path that God had set out for him. I do not believe that it was mere coincidence that Christ chose to reveal himself on the road to Damascus.
    Why there? Why then? Because God has a plan. We know that Paul connected and fellowshipped with Ananias and the other Christians in Damascus. (Polhill 57) Perhaps God wanted Paul to connect with this specific group of Christians. Perhaps they would accept Paul’s conversion easier than others. Perhaps it was even the other way around, that they needed Paul to join them in their work in Damascus. We are told that Paul almost immediately starts to preach the gospel in the synagogues. (57) There was a great need in the community both Hellenistic Jew and Gentile alike for the Gospel.
    We also know that Paul spent 3 years in Damascus and Arabia. Maybe this was a time period in which Paul prepared for his return to Jerusalem. We need to remember that Paul may have know quite a bit about the Christians, but he had just become one himself. These 3 years may have served as a time where Paul found his identity as a Follower of Christ, an apostle, and a time where he could have shaped his theology.
    Simply put, I believe God had a purpose for Paul to begin his ministry in Damascus. I don’t know exactly what that is, but God does and that’s what matters.

  9. Hengel and Schwemer give us a few very good reasons why Paul wanted to avoid Jerusalem for as long as he could. However, I think another reason Paul wanted to get working on his mission is because then he could have a group of followers too. By going into the “outside” first he could share the good news and possibly get a lot of support.
    Another possible reason I think Paul may have waited is so he could get to know the people he was called to minister to a little better. I remember watching a mission’s video my freshman year and one part that really stood out is how long this lady took just caring and getting to know the people she was working with. She did this for a few years before she even said anything about Jesus. All throughout last week’s readings Polhill implies that Paul was very knowledgeable of the Hellenistic culture. Polhill said, “One thing is certain: he learned his Greek Bible Well” (9). It is easy to see that Paul was influenced by the Greek culture in his writings too (Philippians 3:12-14, 1 Timothy 4:8, 2 Timothy2:5, 1 Timothy 6:12, and 2 Timothy 4:7). If Paul just went to Jerusalem immediately after his conversion he probably would have had an idea of what the Gentiles were like but by going into the ministry first he got the first hand experience of what they were really like. Now that Paul had a good understanding and a taste of how things were going, he also learned of a few conflicts that arose between the Jews and Gentiles. The questions of circumcision and table fellowship arose and now Paul had to go to Jerusalem to sort out the issues (Polhill, 106-107).
    Now needing to sort out some issues Paul went back to Jerusalem. I guess we will never know the true reasons for Paul waiting the three years but now it makes me wonder how things would have been different if he went immediately to Jerusalem. Would he ever have left to do ministry somewhere else? How would it affect how the Gospel has spread and went around the world today?

  10. I definitely agree with Mitch (connmi08) that Paul “avoiding” Jerusalem was all about God’s plan. Sometimes we get caught up on Paul and analyze him so much that we forget that the whole purpose of everything is to glorify God. God obviously had reasons for Paul to stay in more Gentile areas. Also, not everything that happened in those times is written in the Bible. Sometimes we have to step back and just accept that God had the control in the situation and that we just simply do not know what actually happened.
    If I had to guess a reason I would probably agree with Tyler that Paul went to Arabia for three years because of a combination of reasons. He was, I am guessing, really excited to start preaching, so maybe he went to Arabia to get started on that. Maybe he needed some time to wait and let the drama in Jerusalem die down for his own safety. Maybe he felt that some of the other apostles had the spreading of the Gospel in Jerusalem under control. Going to Arabia seems like a very logical step to take if these three reasons are true. Add in the fact that God may have told Paul to go there, and you have your answer. Still as I said earlier, we just do not know and probably will not till we get to Heaven.

  11. I feel like the answers to this question, by others, are pretty basic, but they may also be the correct answer. Maybe Hengel and Schwemer are correct with their assumptions why Paul didn’t return right away. And the more I think about Paul’s conversion and the history behind his conversion the more I think Paul did the right thing staying away from Jerusalem for a while. I mean, what if Paul did return to Jerusalem right away? Would there have been a major stir amongst the Jewish leaders and peers of Paul’s? Would people have taken him seriously? Would they just blow him and his message off because of the immediacy of the conversion? Would that have ruined his credibility and reliability amongst the Christians of that time if he would have just ran back to his “past”?
    If I were in Paul’s shoes I probably wouldn’t go back to my hometown, where I knew people were waiting to hear my report of evil against the very things I came to believe in.
    I also wonder if we are overlooking something simple about why Paul didn’t head back to Jerusalem right away. I wonder if simply Paul couldn’t go back because he didn’t have a way to get there. In Paul’s time they didn’t have jet planes, or a subway system or the Rapid to just take them where they needed to go. It may have been as simple as that. Maybe Paul didn’t have the finances to pay for the food or the walking stick to get back. So maybe that is why he stayed in Arabia for so long. Maybe it was a simple reason and not a dramatic one. Just a thought.

  12. It seems to me that Jerusalem was very familiar to Paul (26) and therefore maybe something of a second home to him as a Jew (Philippians 3:5). Did Paul expect the same welcome Jesus received in his hometown (Luke 4:24)? Could this be a factor in the reasons he did not return to Jerusalem? Imagine going back to high school after several years of not being there… it would be awkward especially because you are most likely a very different person than you were when you first went there. I imagine this is the tension Paul sat with when thinking about going back to Jerusalem. Would people understand the new me? What would they think? Could I even make a difference by going back? Saul loved and served Jerusalem but should Paul?

    In spite of these questions, I do not think Paul had specific reasoning for waiting so long to return to Jerusalem. It seems that his missionary journeys and methods may have “evolved over time, growing out of his actual experience” (98). He may been intentional in not returning for that season so that people would see that Paul was not the Saul they told stories about. Time may have aided Paul’s testimony of true transformation.

  13. I’ve noticed that many of us within the comments on this post seem to agree that regardless of Paul’s motives for staying away from Jerusalem, the overarching point is that God willed it. Paul’s ministry would have been very different had he gone straight back to Jerusalem. I would agree with Hengel and Schwemer’s reasons, as they are certainly logical. But I would suggest that the strongest reason for Paul to go elsewhere than Jerusalem is the fact that he was called to the Gentiles specifically. “…this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph. 3:8). The fact that he was a zealous persecutor turned zealous evangelist and that he wanted to avoid the sure danger that would await him if he immediately returned to Jerusalem are dependent on the call to preach to the Gentiles. He could have gone back to Jerusalem (being equally as zealous) and directly challenge the Jewish leaders and even become a martyr for the cause of the gospel, but yet he was called to a higher purpose and recognized it as such. It was God’s will for him to go first to Damascus.

    I often wonder what it was like for Paul, those first few days in Damascus after his conversion. Acts 9:19 intrigues me. “And after taking some food, he regained his strength. Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus.” I get the feeling that those few days of being nurtured and strengthened (both physically, emotionally and spiritually) held a great impact on him and prepared him for his short trip to Jerusalem (which didn’t seem to go so well- Acts 9:26) and for his ministry from there on out. I wonder what sort of things they discussed. What made the disciples from Damascus embrace him, unlike the disciples in Jerusalem?

  14. Reading the different reasons of why Paul did not immediately go back to Jerusalem has been very insightful and very interesting. For me I have never really questioned before now why Paul did not go back. The reasons presented in the blog seem really solid and quite good. Paul definately wanted to start his missionary work as soon as soon as he could. He also would have wanted to not travel all the way to Jeruasalem without making sure the gospel was already wherever he passed through because the Lord could have and can come at any time. Also he wanted to preach in areas that were more on the outskirts of Jerusalem so as to preach to the “unreached. As others have said God’s will was definately a factor.

    “The old student of Gamaliel was now filled the Spirit, just like Stephen in his witness in the Jerusalem synagogues” (Pohill,57).

    Another big reason for him to spread the gospel outside of Jerusalem is because of how much more prevalent gentiles were in that area. Sure gentiles were eveywhere but the culture outside of Jerusalem (I would assume) was much less Jewish and as such was a better target for one such as Paul. Another big reason as David points out is that that was where he was lead to so he could recieve his sight (Acts 9:7-18). If he was taken there from God’s leading then that is where God wants him to be.

  15. Regarding Paul’s slow return to Jerusalem, I believe it was not mainly because Paul was scared to return to Jerusalem, but rather that Paul needed time before going back to Jerusalem. Maybe the time spent away from Jerusalem after his conversion was multi-tasking. It was doing the mission work that God called for him to do, but also buying time and processing what he was going to say when he got there. Paul spent so much time trying to get rid of Christians, it was definitely going to be hard to explain why he was suddenly included in their numbers. Polhill however notices, “Paul fled ‘from the frying pan into the fire’.” (p. 59) If Paul was truly avoiding Jerusalem, then he wouldn’t have gone at all. But because he did return to Jerusalem, he had “been completely transformed, from persecutor to bold witness.” (p. 59) According to Acts 9, Paul faced opposition when he finally went to Jerusalem, and it wasn’t until he had the acceptance from Barnabas that he was accepted by the other disciples. Eventually, Paul became so welcomed into the fold that he was regularly consulted and listened to in discussions, and when his life was seriously in danger, the others came together to help keep him safe. Paul’s return to Jerusalem was timely and appropriate so as to best benefit the message that God gave him.

  16. What everyone has said thus far may in fact be true but my take on this is more based off of Paul’s own ideas that originated back to Paul’s first missionary journey. Polhill points out that “it was Paul’s principle not to work on a field started by others but to break new ground” (Polhill 85). Jerusalem was already flooded with believers in that the twelve were operating out of Jerusalem and that there were thousands of believers already in fellowship there. If Paul would have returned to Jerusalem, he would have had to start his ministry upon the work of others, something that doesn’t happen throughout the missionary life of Paul. Paul was never known the take the easy way out of ministry, instead, opting to minister in new areas and supporting himself so as not to be a burden on anyone (2 Cor. 11:9). I believe that this is why Paul chose to minister in the places he did and not in Jerusalem.

  17. Act’s 9:6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 8″Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.” Originally, he was going to Damascus to find Christians and take them prisoner to Jerusalem. On the way, we see Saul is met by Jesus, and become blind after the meeting. He from there begins preaching in the Synagogues (after being conversed) and begins his mission work. My personal belief on why Paul did not return straight to Jerusalem is this. I feel that the news of Paul preaching the name of Jesus to others had reached the Church he was originally with. He needed a little time to think of what to do. I feel that when he heard that the Jews were conspiring to kill him, he knew he needed to join with the disciples. So he left Damascus, and went to Jerusalem.

  18. I don’t know if this is accurate or not, but i feel like if i had a crazy new and exciting message to preach, i would go to the place that i would find the largest crowd that I know would understand what i am talking about. Being a Pharisee, Paul knew what kind of people, and what kind of crowds would be in Jerusalem. This is probably one reason God chose Paul for this mission. Why wouldn’t God choose a servant who extensively knew the Jewish world. He himself was on a mission to persecute Jews when he “ran into” Jesus. He might have wanted to avoid some trouble as well. To some degree Jerusalem was the center of everything he was now preaching and teaching to the contrary of.

    • “i had a crazy new and exciting message to preach” – except that if it were really that radical, there is a real possibility that the establishment would kill him. After all, that was what he was trying to do to others who claim Jesus was Messiah and that he raised from the dead!

  19. I think that this issue is being over-thought. It is interesting to speculate on why exactly Paul did not immediately return to Jerusalem, but I think that a simple explanation would be best. Andrew mentioned that “The men traveling with Saul… led him by the hand into Damascus.” I think that his zeal for persecuting was transformed into zeal for preaching. Where would be a better place to start than the place he was about to persecute? Another reason I think that a simple explanation is best is because of the way he describes it in Galatians 1. In verses 16-17 he says, “…I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.” I find very interesting the phrase, “but I went away into Arabia.” It seems to me he simply decided to start this new direction of his life in a new place (God willing of course). In his letter to the Galatians, Paul seems not to stress the reason why he waited so long to return to Jerusalem.

    There may be some underlying reasons, such as fear of immediate persecution from his “old friends,” but even then, fear from persecution never seemed to stop him (Acts 14:19-21).

  20. When Paul experienced the Messiah, it was a time when word did travel quickly. People moving form town to town, who caried rumors and gossip about people and things going on. I think that this is a the main reason that Paul did not go to Jerusalem right away. He knew that word would travel fast about his preaching. In this sense he did not put God in a box. Not to mention since he was on his way to Damascus, to persecute Christians, the people there would have strong beliefs. Another reason could be that, the people of Jerusalem knew that Paul was going to be bringing back Christians to put in prision, causing the people to flee and not know the tranformation that Paul had. They expected him to just go get the Christians and come back, the length of time that he was gone could be another indication that he did have a tranformation. We have to remember, Paul was a very powerful man at this time, it is not like a rebellion is going to stand a chance against Paul, so there shouldn not be hold up at all, unless something significant happened to change Paul’s mind.

    Yet another reason that Paul stayed in Damascus was the huge influence that he had on the people. They thought that he was going to arrest them, but come to find out, he puts together a powerful community for God. “Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Messiah” (Acts 9:22).

    I know there are a lot of ideas in this, but it was all flooding my mind and I needed to get it out before I forgot it:)

  21. I am not sure if this has been mentioned or not but another reason that Paul may have stayed away from Jerusalem was fear that he may hinder the spread of the gospel. Acts 9:26 talks about when Paul did finally go to Jerusalem and how the disciples were afraid of him and did not believe that he was converted. Polhill 59 points out that “many day” in Acts 9:23 meant three years. Three years went by and it was still not known by some that Paul was a true convert to Christianity. Information did not spread nearly as quickly then as it does now. Only when Barnabas stood up for him did he get an ‘in’ with the apostles. Paul did not know ahead of time that he would find a friend in Barnabas. If he did not have Barnabas to testify for him he may have been seen as a liar for much longer, therefore causing Christians fear to preach the gospel because Paul was back with a vengeance.

  22. “…fear that he may hinder the spread of the gospel.” This is a good point, there may have been no use to try and meet anything since who would ever believe he was not “on their side.”

  23. Paul gets converted – Paul spreads God’s word – Paul eventually goes to Jerusalem – We’re discussing why. Uhmm, The people in Jerusalem wanted to kill him now. The people outside of Jerusalem needed to hear God’s love for them. Paul was smart, and for all we know Christ Himself could have told Paul to avoid Jerusalem. Jesus was rather good at telling people to do stuff after all. And its not like Paul wrote down everything that happened to Him. This seems like one of those questions that we will never know the answer too. Sad day, just like so many others.

  24. “He met a resurrected and glorified Jesus who commissioned him as the apostle to the Gentiles.” We find in Acts 9:15 that the Lord is uniquely setting Paul apart for the ministry to the gentiles. Throughout Paul’s experience he normally goes to the synagogues first to proclaim the good news to the Jews and God-fearers; however, the radical idea that salvation was based upon faith in Jesus Christ rather than gentiles maintaining the mosiac law and food laws seemed counter culture to Jewish Christians. This is partially because the law was a means of their identity of what it meant to be jewish. Acts 13-15 We find some of the arguments that came up and how Paul had to defend what the Lord was doing with the Gentiles; Peter had already been given his provision from the LORD with Cornellius. The question brought up in this post is why didn’t Paul immediately go to Jerusalem. I see throughout the reading of Acts the Holy Spirit is generally the one moving the apostles into action, I would comment that Paul was not called to immediately go to Jerusalem. I don’t think I can rationalize Paul being afraid of going to Jersualem in face of persecution. Paul was bold throughout his life and ministry and that strength came from the LORD.

  25. When Paul is defending himself to the mob in Jerusalem (Acts 22), when recounting his conversion story, doesn’t he say explicitly that the Lord appeared to him while he prayed in the temple (following his baptism by Ananias) and told him to get out of Jerusalem. It seems in this passage that Paul did return to his home for a very brief time following his conversion and that Christ appeared to him and told him he should not stay because “they will not receive thy testimony concerning [him]”…

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