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Which Pauline account is correct?

Discussion in 'Exposition & Bible Study' started by Stinker, Jun 24, 2006.

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  1. Stinker

    Stinker Senior Veteran

    Christian Seeker
    After his conversion on the Damascus road, it is written in (Acts 9:1-19) that he stayed in Damascus preaching for a number of days till a Jewish plot to kill him was discovered. (Acts 9:23-24) He was then let down through an opening in the wall one night by his disciples in a large basket. (Acts 9:25)

    Then, it says in the next verse (26) that he then came to Jerusalem.

    However, in Gal. 1:17-18 it is written that after his Damascus road conversion that "I did not go up to Jerusalem to those that were Apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. Then 3 years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him 15 days."

    Anyone have any answers for this?
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  2. justified

    justified Well-Known Member

    That's a classic one.

    Paul wrote the one in Galatians -- it's a (practically) undisputed Pauline letter. Acts was written decades later by someone else.
  3. PETE_

    PETE_ Count as lost, every moment not spent loving God

    Gal 1:16
    [Immediately] Koppe supposes that this is to be connected with "I went into Arabia" (Gal 1:17). Rosenmuller supposes it means, "Immediately I consented." Dr. Wells and Locke suppose that it refers to the fact that he immediately went to Arabia. But this seems to me to be an unnatural construction. The words are too remote from each other to allow of it. The evident sense is, that he was at once decided. He did not take time to deliberate whether he should or should not become a Christian. He made up his mind at once and on the spot. He did not consult with anyone; he did not ask advice of anyone; he did not wait to be instructed by anyone. He was convinced by the vision in an overpowering manner that Jesus was the Messiah, and he yielded at once. The main idea is, that there was no delay, no consultation, no deferring it, that he might see and consult with his friends, or with the friends of Christianity. The object for which he dwells on this is to show that he did not receive his views of the gospel from man.
    (from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)
  4. Cribstyl

    Cribstyl Veteran

    United States
    Let's take a look at the word..........
    Act 9:19 And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. (days implied)

    Act 9:20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. (many sabbaths implied)
    Act 9:21 But all that heard [him] were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? (time implied)

    Act 9:22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. (time implied)

    Act 9:23 And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: (time implied)

    Act 9:24 But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. (time implied)

    Act 9:25 Then the disciples took him by night, and let [him] down by the wall in a basket.

    Act 9:26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.

    There is no contradiction, It appears that "... after that many days were fulfilled..." is relating to, "many days from confounding the Jews" after that, they took counsel to kill him.

    These text do not imply a short time from his conversion at Damascus to going back to Jerusalem. So there is no contradiction with Luke's account in Act and the details of it written to the Galatians
  5. MapleLeaf

    MapleLeaf Member

    When did the book of Acts become a Pauline Epistle?
  6. daveleau

    daveleau In all you do, do it for Christ and w/ Him in mind

    Acts was written by Luke (a disciple/friend of Paul) around AD 64, and Galatians was written by Paul in about AD 46.

    The accounts do not contradict, but one gives more information than the other. If I said I went to the bank to get shopping money and then to the store to buy food, and later my neighbor wrote that I went to the store to buy food, the two accounts are correct, but from different vantage points. This is essentially what is going on here. Luke writes of what is important to his passage- going to Jerusalem, while Paul gives more details. Nothing controversial here, but simply two accounts with one having more detail than the other.
  7. justified

    justified Well-Known Member


    ...in a contradictory manner.

    Personally, I think people who harmonize this passage as you have are not paying quite enough attention to what Paul actually wrote and what was written by Luke (and how it was intended there).
  8. TruthMiner

    TruthMiner Veteran

    Since Paul says he did NOT go to Jerusalem but DID go to Arabia, the only way to make it work is to insert a 3 year sojourn in Arabia, plus a return to Damascus for a second visit, in between Acts 9:25 and 9:26.

    The wishful thinkers just might find such a thing as plausible. Denial is always a handy tool for them. And for those who put their trust in words rather than a person.
  9. timlamb

    timlamb Senior Veteran

    This makes perfect sense. In the four translations I made the comparison, the wording in acts leaves the impression there is a time laps, most saying something like,"And WHEN Saul had come to Jerusalem..." Even in Galatians Paul himself only mentions the trip to Arabia and back to Damascus in passing, as seemingly insignificant in comparison to the trip to Jerusalem. It seems understandable that Luke would bypass mentioning it.
    I don't find it wishful thinking to want to see the scriptures as accurate. No one is doctoring important scriptural messages. I think finding a few human errors in scriptures makes the combined message just that much more believable, but where ever possible we should use logical solutions.

    For every percieved contradiction, there is an explaination, the truth, and it is our obligation as Christians to find the truth where we can and to believe it is there when we cannot. Not to be niave, but to build up the scripture rather than tear down.
  10. justified

    justified Well-Known Member

    It's one thing to explain a contradiction where there is a reasonable explanation -- it's quite another to make stuff up and then rationalize away reasonable doubt by saying "the scriptures must be true!" First, it doesn't mean your solution is correct (and here the solutions so far offered are all far-fetched and lack any exegetical credibility) and secondly, it doesn't do anyone any good to force harmony where we do not have enough information to truly understand it.
  11. timlamb

    timlamb Senior Veteran

    As I said, I find that a perfectly reasonable explaination.

    I expect to find much more truth in believing and supporting scripture, than anyone will by questioning and dividing it.
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