Odd Message From "Jesus" To Paul About Apostles
Paul's account of what "Jesus" told him in a "trance" (Acts 22:14-21) after the appearance outside Damascus is more corroboration that Paul did not meet the true Jesus outside Damascus.
For had Paul met the true Jesus, then why did this Jesus tell Paul that those at Jerusalem (the apostles) would not accept Paul? For the true Jesus knows He could communicate via the Holy Spirit to the apostles that Paul is more than a mere brother, but also is now a chosen vessel of evangelism. But a false Jesus would tell Paul not to go there for fear that Paul's "Jesus" would be exposed as false if Paul learned of the true Jesus' warning of imposters coming in His name. Otherwise, Paul would have learned the true Jesus said that the once Jesus ascended then the only valid next appearance of Jesus on earth would (a) not be in a wilderness such as outside Damascus but be (b) by the Sign of the Son of Man -- coming on clouds of glory with a host -- which would be universally seen. See Matt 24:4-5, 23-27.
Consider the following facts in preparation to hear the problem:
1. The appearance on the Road to Damascus of Jesus to Paul is chronologically at Acts chapter 9 after Paul's participation in the murder of Stephen.
2. This is important for at that time, Luke had just recorded in chapter 8 that the "apostles" were staying in Jerusalem, while believers were otherwise scattered due to what happened to Stephen. (Acts 8:1.)
Thus, when Paul recounts in Acts 22 the same appearance account as in Acts 9 with more details, please put these facts Paul recounts in Acts 22 back squarely at Acts 8:1-9:7 when the apostles are alone the believers staying at Jerusalem. Paul's persecution sent the rest into flight.
In other words, put the trance-message of Acts 22 as right after the Damascus-Road appearance account within Acts 8:1-9:1-7. This means the "Jesus" speaking to Paul in a trance in Acts 22:14-21 is soon after the Damascus-appearance speaking about the apostles at Jerusalem when "Jesus" in the trance says to Paul to leave Jerusalem because those there "will not receive of thee testimony concerning me." (Acts 22:18.)
With that background, let's turn to Acts 22. Paul then recounts what happened next -- Paul fell into a "trance" (the Greek word ectsasia -- another oddity in this story. See Paul's Trance.) In this trance, Paul heard the "Jesus" Paul just recently met speak. This Jesus told Paul the following in substance:
A. Leave Jerusalem for they (obviously the apostles in context) will not believe your testimony about me appearing to you outside Damascus; and
B. Instead, I am sending you far away to the Gentiles.
Here below are the exact words which Paul attributed to his "Jesus" -- and as you read, ask yourself :
- Doesn't Paul imply that he thinks he could convince the apostles of his having witnessed an appearance of Jesus outside Damascus because he went from persecutor to ally but the "Jesus" whom Paul met does not think the apostles can be convinced?
It is the latter implication that is utterly damning of Paul's encounter outside Damascus -- proving it is unlikely that it was with the true Jesus. Here is the verbatim account in Acts 22 to consider:
14 And he [i.e., Ananias] said, The God of our fathers hath appointed thee to know his will, and to see the Righteous One, and to hear a voice from his mouth.
15 For thou shalt be a witness for him unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.
16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name.
17 And it came to pass, that, when I had returned to Jerusalem, and while I prayed in the temple, I fell into a trance,
18 and saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem; because they will not receive of thee testimony concerning me.
19 And I said, Lord, they themselves know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee:
20 and when the blood of Stephen thy witness was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting, and keeping the garments of them that slew him.
21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee forth far hence unto the Gentiles. (Acts 22:14-21 ASV.)
Does it not sound very odd that Paul was told by the supposedly true Jesus that his 12 apostles would not accept Paul? and instead of going to visit them, and be received by them -- through a Holy Spirit message of Jesus to them -- that instead Paul should leave Jerusalem? 'They will reject Paul, so don't bother with the apostles at Jerusalem,' in effect.
Does that sound like what the true Jesus would say? Or what a false Jesus would say who could not dupe the true 12?
This is one more proof that Paul did not truly meet the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus, and the person in this "trance" -- this "ecstasy"--- (how odd a description!) who Paul thought was Jesus was not in fact the true Jesus. For the true Jesus no doubt would want Paul to obtain their consent, and help Paul use Jesus' Gospel words heard by the true 12 to validate Paul's experience with Himself. For again, Jesus in Matthew 24 said not to believe an imposter claiming to be Jesus who only appears in the wilderness or a private encounter but rather wait for the Sign of the Son of Man -- only that would be a true reappearance on Earth of the true Jesus. Had Paul gone to Jerusalem, and learned of this filter-criteria, only a false Jesus could be protected by giving such an odd direction to Paul to leave Jerusalem without seeing the 12 apostles because the 12 apostles there would reject Paul.
The cumulative evidence clearly stacks up that Paul did not meet the true Jesus outside Damascus.
For more detail, see our article Who Identified Himself As Jesus Outside Damascus?
It is also odd that Paul says this occurred in a trance. A trance was a pagan term about a pagan experience. See our article The Trance of Paul.