Did Paul really meet Jesus?

 The Problem with Paul’s story

by Ibn Anwar

  “Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say,”Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.”(1 Corinthians 12:3, NIV)

The above is from Paul of Tarsus saying that only those who have the Holy Spirit will be able to say,”Jesus is Lord”. The Greek word which is translated as “by” in the verse is “εν”(en) which is a preposition. It is the same word found in John 1:1,”en arche…” which is often rendered as “In the beginning”. It is then safe to say that in 1 Corinthians 12:3 the word “by” may also be rendered as “in”. The idea is that the ones who are in/by the Holy Spirit are the only ones who can say Jesus is Lord. With that said, let us proceed to the story of Paul’s journey to Damascus.

There are a a few versions of the incident recorded in the New Testament. We won’t be going through every single one of them here. Instead, I have chosen Acts 9 as our case study.

The passage begins with an image of a persecutor who is both brute and evil that is Paul. He sets on a journey to Damascus to seek out followers of Jesus so as to capture them and bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment. Whilst on his way he supposedly experienced the following,

3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.

    4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?

    5 Who are you, Lord? Saul asked. I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting, he replied.

    6 Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.

    7 The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.

    8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.
(NIV)

Here’s the question. How in the world did this person who was on his way to persecute the “followers of Jesus” out of the blue address a strange light that came out of nowhere in a respectable fashion and even went out of his way and called it “Lord” ? Did he know that it was Jesus? If he knew that it was Jesus how is it that he suddenly paid homage to the one whom he is suppose to be against by using the title “Lord”? How does someone convert so radically in a matter of moments? It does not seem reasonable. But the fact is, he did not know who or what it was hence the question,”who are you, Lord?”. If he did not know who or what it was, how in the world could he have addressed it as Lord?!? For all he knew it could have been a demon or the devil. As Paul himself states elsewhere,”And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.”(2 Corinthians 11:14). Could the strange light have been Satan? What is interesting is that the following verse after 2 Cor 11:14 says that the followers of Satan may masquerade as righteous people. Could he have been talking about himself? These are some very pertinent questions that need to be asked and answered. In any case, it is absolutely strange how Paul could have called the unidentified light as “Lord” without ascertaining the identity first. 

  A few days ago I was having a discussion with a certain Christian by the name Pastor Job77(he claimed to have given talks at Harvard) on Paltalk at the room “Dialogue between Muslim and Christians” on this very subject. He was claiming that Paul “recognised” the voice, hence his addressig it as “Lord”. The passage itself refutes this claim since the term was used in a question which was asked to ascertain the voice’s identity. If he had recognised it he would not have asked for its identity and the source would not have replied to the question. The voice would have instead said, why do you ask when you already know or something to that effect.  It is because he did not know the question was asked.

  Now, here comes the really important question. When Paul calls the voice and the light “Lord” was he with or by the Holy Spirit? Was the Holy Spirit in him or vice versa? The answer to that question is no. We are told in Acts 9, verse 17 that Paul met Ananias wherein he is informed that he is to “be filled with the Holy Spirit”. This was about 3 days after the meeting on the road to Damascus(verse 9).  From this we can conclude that whilst on the road to Damascus the Holy Spirit was not in Paul, because if it was there would not have been the need for a re-filling(verse 17).  Now that we know that he did not have the Holy Spirit, how could he have called Jesus “kurios” or “LORD” in verse 5?!? This is when the verse mentioned at the beginning of the article needs to be recalled. It mentions that only those with the Holy Spirit can call Jesus Lord, yet Paul according to Acts 9 did so without the Holy Spirit. Could it all have been nothing more than a lie? I leave the verdict to the readers.

For further reading on Paul proceed to the following links:

http://unveiling-christianity.com/2008/04/06/did-paul-really-meet-jesus/

http://unveiling-christianity.com/2008/12/25/series-of-articles-on-paul-of-tarsus1/

http://unveiling-christianity.com/2008/12/25/series-of-articles-on-paul-of-tarsus2/

http://unveiling-christianity.com/2008/12/25/did-paul-ever-speak-and-teach-on-his-own/

Incoming search terms:

  • did paul of tarsus meet jesus
  • did paul of tarsus ever meet jesus
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

19 Responses to “Did Paul really meet Jesus?”

  1. Abdul-Qadar says:

    Great article. I really enjoyed reading it. Lets wait and see if a christian can come along and explain it. I highly doubt it.

    With Dua,
    A-Q

  2. Tridax says:

    Assalamulaikum wr wb.
    A well argued case. but there is a simple explanation. Lord is a term used as a title of respect. Though Paul didnt know at the time it was Jesus’s voice nevertheless he knew it was something which was supernatural and addressed the source out of respect. subsequently it was confirmed that it was Jesus. Anyway this is a classic example to prove that word “Lord” does not necessarily imply “God”.

  3. Ibn Anwar says:

    Assalamu’alaikum,
    I disagree brother Tridax. The verse in 1 Corinthians 12:3 says clearly that only those in the Holy Spirit can actually call Jesus Lord. If it was Jesus that appeared then it was not possible for Paul to have “epo” or call him Lord unless with the assistance of the Holy Spirit according to 1 Corinthians 12:3. Further more, it does not seem reasonable that this persecutor would immediately pay respects to a strange light that came out of nowhere when it cold very well have been a demon or something to that effect. This is a man who was bent on evil and for him to transform into a respectable humble person immediately in a matter of seconds does not add up. These points were already discussed in the article. The problem is that Paul in one place says that only those with the Holy Spirit can call Jesus Lord whilst in another we see that he managed to call Jesus Lord despite his initial ignorance(ignorance or otherwise is not stipulated in 1 Co 12:3) of that fact.

  4. Ibn Anwar says:

    By the way ther Tidax, what do you think of my article on Mark 12:29-34? Would you care share your two cents there? I’d appreciate it : ). Jzk.

  5. DebatingChristianity says:

    Asalamu’Alaikum

    Another well written and documented essay which is clearly the truth. May Allah bless you for your efforts in educating others about the truth. Keep it up!

  6. rufus says:

    Paul was a student of the old testament. The great light that he saw was the pillar of fire as described in the old testament. Paul
    was asked by the light why was he persecuting him (i.e. his people)
    Paul was persecuting believers in Jesus. Paul asked a logical
    question. If he was persecuting believers in Jesus the light must be Jesus. Jesus had returned to his previous state. Jesus said,
    I came from God (the pillar of fire), I return to God. From flesh
    Jesus (i.e. God in a body) to God in spirit form (Pillar of Fire).
    Moses saw God in the form. Paul, being a Jew, would only address
    God as Lord.

    • Ibn Anwar says:

      What exactly are you responding to? Did you read the article? What you’ve written totally ignores the contention put forth in the article.

  7. rufus says:

    You missed my point Ibn Anwar. The contentions set forth in the article was incorrect. The Bible account is true. The author of the article was attempting to discredit the bible and Paul. The author’s logic is faulty.

    • Ibn Anwar says:

      You have not illustrated how the contention set forth in the article is incorrect…all you did was explain what the light was according to your understanding..that is not the contention at all..read the article again..the gist of the article is that Paul called the light who was Jesus as “Lord” which goes against his own word which says that you can’t call Jesus Lord without the Holy Spirit…I then went to explain that according to the narrative studied Paul did not have the Holy Spirit when calling the light “Lord”…that is the contention and you have not disproven it in any shape or form. Saying that my logic is faulty does not make it so…prove it with cogent arguments…you have not done that so far.

  8. Captain Planet says:

    I had written something eerily similar in one of my discussions on an interfaith message board a couple of years ago, namely, why did Paul from the outset address the light as “Lord” though he did not know what it was?

    I think this is a problematic issue, but not a hugely problematic issue. That is because “Lord” carries many meanings, ranging from a reference to God to a polite “sir.” But then again, why would Paul address a strange light with a polite “sir” type of “Lord?” Perhaps he was scared, confused, and shocked and in this state of mind he just said “sir, who are you?” Ultimately, we simply cannot know what was going in his mind.

    Nonetheless, this is a small issue which, by itself does not, in my view, invalidate Paul and his message.

    The actual problem is as follows: first, this account of Paul’s “conversion” is related in Acts. Paul himself does not mention such a story. It is quite possible that Luke has dramatised and exaggerated an initial account he may have heard either from Paul or from a Pauline source. Afterall, Luke is known to alter his sources to suit his needs and agenda (his alteration of Mark, for instance). There are minor discrepancies in the “conversion” stories as related in Acts, which also indicate creativity on the part of its author. Secondly, and most importantly, Paul is most unlikely to be conveying Jesus’ actual preaching in light of the major discrepancies between his own message and the one conveyed by Jesus. Jesus, being a devout Jew of his time, would have been horrified to learn that, later, someone using his name (Paul) was speaking against the validity of the Jewish law, the food laws, circumcision, and presenting Jesus as a divine pre-existent being. Moreover, Paul believed that the world would end in his own lifetime…he did not expect the world to last for too long. His belief turned out to be false, which, in turn, means that Paul was a false apostle.

  9. Kevin Mcgraw says:

    Sir,

    I am a Catholic theologian, I am fully impressed with your article. Well done.

  10. Stevey says:

    Dear Ibn Anwar,

    I have difficulty in seeing the logic in these arguments. While you contest the writings in the Book of Acts, clearly you cannot contest the impact that Paul has had on Christianity. Paul changed from persecuting the Christians to being the greatest evangelist of all time. What do you believe happened?

    Lies? False apostle? Surely you can do better than name calling. Paul was a martyr who died for what he believed. You may not believe in his message, but you surely must respect what he accomplished. Christianity is the most prevalent religion in the world. The early disciples, including Paul, would not become martyrs in defense of a lie. They truly believed.

    Sincerely,

    Stevey

  11. Rik says:

    Salam

    Bro Ibn Anwar what if one says that Paul used “Kurios”(lord) in the sense of “master” and not in the sense of God(Kurios) since Paul was a jew before his conversion THERFORE any non christian can say lord while not possessing the holy spirit.

    • Ibn Anwar says:

      Well, that’s an interesting observation. However, your comment carries with it the assumption that after the alleged conversion when Paul says kurios he means theos e.g. 1 Cor. 12:3 which in itself is a stretch.

      • Rik says:

        Akhi my unintended assumption is not your contention i.e what Paul says BEFORE his conversion

        moreover today when most christians say “Jesus is Lord” they mean Jesus is God.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_is_Lord

        But verse 6 makes more sense because by this time Jesus’ identity was established yet Paul calls him Lord without the holy spirit

        Adam clarke comments:The word Κυριε, Lord, is here to be understood in its proper sense, as expressing authority and dominion: in the 5th verse it appears to be equivalent to our word sir.

  12. Ibn Anwar says:

    Akhi…to define the teachings of Paul based on what later Christians believe is a fallacy. There is no clear scriptural evidence to show that Paul employed kurios to mean theos. Yes, I am familiar with Clarke’s commentary. The following is the complete exposition on verse 5,
    “Verse 5. Who art thou, Lord?] tiv ei, kurie; Who art thou, SIR? He had no knowledge who it was that addressed him, and would only use the term kurie, as any Roman or Greek would, merely as a term of civil respect. ”
    I disagree with the above insofar that Paul employed it as a term of civil respect. Brother Tridax raised the same point as you have and I think it would suffice that I reproduce my response to him here,
    “I disagree brother Tridax. The verse in 1 Corinthians 12:3 says clearly that only those in the Holy Spirit can actually call Jesus Lord. If it was Jesus that appeared then it was not possible for Paul to have “epo” or call him Lord unless with the assistance of the Holy Spirit according to 1 Corinthians 12:3. Further more, it does not seem reasonable that this persecutor would immediately pay respects to a strange light that came out of nowhere when it could very well have been a demon or something to that effect. This is a man who was bent on evil and for him to transform into a respectable humble person immediately in a matter of seconds does not add up. These points were already discussed in the article. The problem is that Paul in one place says that only those with the Holy Spirit can call Jesus Lord whilst in another we see that he managed to call Jesus Lord despite his initial ignorance(ignorance or otherwise is not stipulated in 1 Co 12:3) of that fact.”

  13. DOC says:

    ok aknad answer me this
    your condemning paul for calling jesus lord because paul wrote in corinthians that you have to be in the holy spirit to say jesus is lord… that is very shallow, flakey and weak. check this out.
    Wherefore I give you to understand. I make known to you. The force of this expression is, I give you this rule to distinguish, or by which you may know what influences and operations are from God. The design of the passage is to give them some simple general guide by which they could at once recognize the operations of the Spirit of God, and determine whether they who claimed to be under that operation were really so. That rule was, that all who were truly influenced by the Holy Ghost would be disposed to acknowledge and to know Jesus Christ; and where this disposition existed, it was of itself a clear demonstration that it was the operation of the Spirit of God. The same rule substantially is given by John, (1 John 4:2,) by which to test the nature of the spirit by which men profess to be influenced: “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every, spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God.” Matthew 16:17. heres one better hadj

    That no man. No one, (ουδεις). It may refer to a man, or to demons, or to those who pretended to be under inspiration of any kind. And it may refer to the Jews who may have pretended to be under the influence of God’s Spirit, and who yet anathematized and cursed the name of Jesus. Or it may be intended simply as a general rule; meaning, that if any one, whoever he might be, should blaspheme the name of Jesus, whatever were his pretensions, whether professing to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit among the Jews, or to be inspired among the Gentiles, it was full proof that he was an impostor. The argument is, that the Holy Spirit in all instances would do honour to Jesus Christ, and would prompt all who were under his influence to love and reverence his name.

    ok heres some common sense if you had any you wouldn’t be blowing yourself up and killing yourself for your god ….. IN christianity our God died for us, for our sins so that we may live eternally. but let me go on…

    PAUL/SAUL AT THE TIME WAS WITH ANOTHER GUY WHO SAW NOTHING YET SAUL COMES OUT OF THE SITUATION BLINDED THE BIBLE DOESNT TELL US WHAT SAUL SAW IT JUST TELLS US THAT THERE WAS A BLINDING LIGHT/ SAUL IS NOW BLIND AND HAS A LIFE CHANGING MOMENT/ TURNS HIS LIFE AROUND FROM A KILLER TO A SERVANT/ SAYS TO THE VOICE… WHO ART THOU, LORD? OR WHO ARE YOU… LORD NOT …. JESUS IS LORD IF YOU WANT TO TAKE EVERYTHING SO LITERAL WHO ARE YOU, LORD? IS NOT JESUS IS LORD SAUL DIDNT JUMP AROUND DANCING AND SINGING JESUS IS LORD HE ASKED THE VOICE WHO ARE YOU, LORD? NOT KNOWING WHOS VOICE IT WAS BUT I AM SURE HE HAD TO KNOW IT WAS FROM SOMETHING ALMIGHTY…THEY DIDNT HAVE PA SYSTEMS BACK THEN OR INTERCOMS, VOICES DIDNT JUST JUMP OUT OF THE SKY IF THE SKY CRACKED LIKE THUNDER AND SPOKE TO YOU IN WORDS WITH A BLINDING LIGHT LIKE LIGHTNING WOULD YOU ASSUME IT WAS GOD TALKING TO YOU… IDIOT… AND WHOS TO SAY THE HOLY SPIRIT DIDNT COME UPON HIM FOR THE MOMENT DO YOU THINK IT TAKES HOURS OR YOU HAVE TO MARTYR YOURSELF FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT TO COME UPON YOU IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU IN A SPLIT SECOND AND HE DID COME OUT OF IT BLINDED SO WHO KNOWS WHAT FELL UPON HIM AT THAT MOMENT. WE ONLY HAVE HIS LIFE CHANGE FROM EVIL TO GOOD FOR PROOF OF WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM. NOW YOU NEED TO DO THE SAME… OH I FORGOT YOUR ALREADY BLIND… I ONCE WAS BLIND TOO BUT NOW I SEE, VERY CLEARLY.
    THE DOCTOR….

  14. Ace says:

    To the doctor seriously u said u were blind before and now u re no more but have read ir argument more ten times and all i see is that u are still blind or poverty made u become a christian coz u dont have faith

Leave a Reply