Damascus Experience

And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: – Acts 9:3

Paul of Acts, a Jew, and the archetype for persecuting Christians received a wealth of information from the disciples in Jerusalem and from divine revelation. F. F. Bruce writes that according to Luke, it was Barnabas that brought Paul and the leaders of the Jerusalem church together.[1] Paul learned that when he needed a friend Ananias and Barnabas were there to help him maneuver through the hostile doubts of some Gentiles concerning his conversion. According to Gillman, Paul traveled to Jerusalem where he stayed with Cephas for fifteen days and saw no other apostle except James, the brother of Jesus (Gal 1:18–19).[2]

However, according to  Bruce while in Jerusalem, Paul talked with Peter and James. Paul knew that Peter was an expert on the particulars of Jesus’ ministry and the tradition of his teachings; this connection helped to establish the necessary bonds of fellowship with the leaders of the mother church.[3] Traditionally Paul learned that (a) Christ died for our sins according to scripture, (b) Christ was buried, (c) and Christ was raised on the third day according to scripture.[4] As much as Peter and James, respective leaders of two distinct groups within the primitive church of Jerusalem could provide, Paul believed that his experience with the risen Lord Jesus on the Damascus road had already granted his apostolic commission.[5]

Paul insisted in Galatians 1:12 that he did not receive his gospel from man, but through revelation of Jesus Christ.[6] According to Bruce, the gospel was more than a body of affirmations or factual data, it is:

“an on-going entity in which one can be or stand (1 Corinthians 15: 1), God’s powerful agency for the salvation of believers (Romans 1:16); it was the field of God’s activity as it touches man’s life, it was God’s comprehensive plan for the redemption of all creation (Romans 8:19-23), it was the Christ-event in its total outreach.[7]

The relationship between tradition and revelation in Paul’s gospel are grounded in the Scripture. Tradition and revelation, each, are based on the word of God according to the Bible. Yet, Paul’s revelation personalized his own experience in relationship to the word of God.

This personalization is the main difference between tradition and revelation in Paul’s gospel. The understanding that in this personalization it is a collective personalize experience for the Jew and the Gentile that is based on tradition. It is the realization that when you accept Jesus Christ, God changes you for good, with your “damascus experience”.

God Bless… I am Wiley’s granddaughter…

[1] F. F.  Bruce. Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free. The Paternoster Press Ltd. Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1977. p. 83.

[2] F. M. Gillman. “Paul, Missionary Journeys.” New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. Vol. 11. Detroit: Gale, 2003. 12-17. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 5 Sept. 2013.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid. pp. 91-93.

[5] Ibid. p. 84.

[6] Ibid. pp. 86-87.

[7] Ibid. p. 93.