Paul’s actions following his dramatic conversion from persecutor of the Church to follower of Jesus are recorded in both Acts and Galatians. The two accounts differ, however, as to where Paul went following his conversion.
According to Paul’s own account in Galatians, following his conversion he went at once to Arabia:
But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus. [Galatians 1:15-17 (NRSV)]
According to Acts, however, following his conversion Paul (then called Saul) remained in Damascus proclaiming the gospel to the Jews:
For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ All who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc among those who invoked this name? And has he not come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?’ Saul became increasingly more powerful and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Messiah. After some time had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night so that they might kill him; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a basket. [Acts 9:19b-25 (NRSV)]
So did Paul stay in Damascus immediately after his conversion, or did he go to Arabia? If he stayed in Damascus, then Galatians 1:17 contains an error. If he went to Arabia, then Acts 9:20 contains an error.
N.B. All posts are written in a style sympathetic to the claim of Biblical error, even in cases where the author ("Errancy") disagrees with the claim. See the About page for the site's philosophy.
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