Paul’s Three Encounters with Christ Jesus in Acts

The Acts of the Apostles record that Paul received three apparitions of the Lord Jesus Christ:

caravaggio_stpaul (1)1) Paul’s Vision on the Road to Damascus (described in Acts 9, 22, and 26). Paul is walking on the road to Damascus in order to arrest Christians in Damascus.

To read my theory that Saul/Paul had Herodian connections to accomplish this political task, click here.

A bright light surrounds Saul and he hears a voice claiming: “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” Saul loses his sight but gains it again through the laying on of hands by Ananias who then baptizes Saul/Paul.

2) Paul’s Trance in the Temple (Acts 22:17-21). After his conversion, Paul returns to Jerusalem and while he is praying in the Temple, he enters into a trance. In Greek, the word for trance is ἐκστάσει {ecstasei} or “ecstasy.”

17 “When I had returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance {ἐκστάσει} 18 and saw him saying to me, ‘Make haste and get quickly out of Jerusalem, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 19 And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believed in thee. 20 And when the blood of Stephen thy witness was shed, I also was standing by and approving, and keeping the garments of those who killed him.’ 21 And he said to me, ‘Depart; for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

We learn something more about Saul here. Although he did not capture Christians in Damascus, he did previously and personally “imprison and and beat” Christians in Jerusalem – “in every synagogue.” Saul was the chief of Anti-Christian police in Jerusalem. Saul would have had to have authority from the High Priest and Herod Antipas to accomplish this.

3) Paul’s Vision in Prison (Acts 23:11). This is the big “Roman Catholic” passage that I stress in my book on Saint Paul as Roman and in my book on Rome as the Capital of Christianity. Here Jesus Christ connects the Apostolic ministry from Jerusalem…to Rome. Romanism is a mandate delivered to Paul from the resurrected mouth of Jesus Christ:

“The following night the Lord stood by him and said: Take courage, for as you have testified about me at Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also at Rome.” (Acts 23:11)

Christ connects the Great Commission as a line drawn from Jerusalem to Rome. We see this in the thematic structure of the four Gospels (the Jerusalem/Pilate struggle) and also in the narrative structure of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts starts in Jerusalem and ends in Rome). The Book of Revelation, rightly interpreted is a vision about the unholy adultery between Whore of Babylon (Jerusalem) and the Beast (Rome).

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  • JARay

    How about St. Paul in the desert after his conversion? He tells us that he went there and after a couple of years there he went back to Jerusalem where he saw no one but Cephas. St Paul was an Apostle “born out of time” and the Apostles were all taught by Jesus himself. Surely it was Jesus who taught him when he was in the desert?

    • Some think he lived among the Essenes in the wilderness.

      • MDK66

        For those 3 years after Paul’s conversion, was he preaching to people, or did he not preach until after the 3 years were up?

  • MPR

    This article and the article on Paul being associated with the Herodians are great! I find these topics very interesting. Thank you for posting them!
    God bless


  • Ellen Kanar

    I used to be a Protestant, and before I started learning about Catholic interpretation of Scripture I absolutely believed my church’s interpretation, which went, the Catholic Church is obviously Rome here, the seat of the Vatican. But now, putting this all together with Catholic interpretations—-no wonder theology always used to leave me completely befuddled & unbelieving! Here, I’m “Ellen in Wonderland”—-only no mad hatter! Thank you—you know I find Catholic interpretations so much more literal than the Protestant version—-like the doctrine surrounding the Eucharist! So glad to be home!

  • John Germain

    wow, eye opening info, I am so glad I stumbled across the NSTI, I tell everyone about it.

  • emiliani

    So which incident was it, or was there possibly another, when Paul spoke about having been lifted up to the third Heaven, not knowing whether in the body or out of the body, where he heard things which are unutterable? That sounds like an ecstatic “trance” to me, but I never connected that to his Jerusalem vision. I think when I was a Protestant that this may have been thinly connected to the time he was stoned (possibly to death) and came back to life.