How do we know that Paul was really converted by Christ on the road to Damascus?

The conversion of the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus is one of the most significant events in the history of Christianity. According to the New Testament, Paul was a persecutor of the early Christian church until he had a transformative encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. But how do we know that Paul’s conversion was real and not a fabrication or a hallucination?

One reason to believe in the reality of Paul’s conversion is the consistency of the accounts of his experience in the New Testament. Paul’s encounter with Christ is described in detail in the book of Acts (9:1-19), as well as in Paul’s own letters (Galatians 1:11-17). These accounts agree on the basic details of the experience: that Paul was struck blind, heard the voice of Christ speaking to him, and was converted to Christianity as a result.

Another reason to believe in the reality of Paul’s conversion is the dramatic change in his behavior and beliefs that followed. Before his conversion, Paul was a zealous persecutor of the Christian church, but after his encounter with Christ, he became one of its most fervent advocates. This change in behavior is difficult to explain without invoking a powerful transformative experience.

Additionally, Paul’s conversion is attested to by other early Christian figures. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul references a meeting with Peter and James, two of the most prominent apostles, who acknowledged Paul’s conversion and accepted him as a fellow believer. The early Christian writer Luke also mentions Paul’s conversion in his history of the early church in the book of Acts.

Some skeptics have argued that Paul’s conversion was a hallucination or a fabrication, but these explanations do not hold up to scrutiny. If Paul’s conversion was a hallucination, it is difficult to explain how multiple people could have witnessed the same hallucination or how it could have led to such a profound and lasting change in Paul’s behavior. If Paul’s conversion was a fabrication, it is difficult to explain why he would have endured persecution and even death for a lie.

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Jamie Larson