Vol.XVI No.VII Pg.7
September 1979

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Dear bro. Turner:

Other than being a direct operation of the Holy Spirit, what is your opinion of Paul's conversion? Acts 9, 22, and 26 give a different account. Did he go to Paradise before or after his baptism (2 Cor. 12:4)? Did this take place only during his stay in Arabia (Gal. 1:12)? Can sin enter into heaven? How long was it, after God gave the Law that the Jews began to depart from it? Did they ever fully return to do all the Law commanded? The same questions re. law of Christ.


I find nothing in the records to indicate Paul's conversion was a "direct operation of the Holy Spirit." Study Acts 22:14-15; compare with 26: 16, 1 Cor. 15:8-10, Gal. 1:15-17. The Lord appeared unto Saul to qualify him as a special witness of the resurrected Christ, NOT to convert him. He saw, after the due time, what others saw at the ordinary time; but being convinced that Jesus was Christ, he had to repent toward God, and submit to divine authority (being baptized) exactly like anyone else. An earthen vessel (Ananias, NOT the Lord) told him what he must do (2 Cor. 4:7).

The three accounts are not "tape recordings" "word-for-word" reports, but they agree. The men with Saul saw the light and were afraid (22:9), and they heard a voice but saw no man (9: 7). So, when Paul says they "heard not the voice of him that spake to me" (22:9) the obvious meaning is that they heard the sound of a voice, but it was unintelligible to them. Have you never "heard a voice" and had to ask, "What did you say?" It was more than 17 years after Saul's conversion that he went to Jerusalem for conference (Gal .1:18, 2:1, Acts 15:), and he had not yet been to Corinth. By the time he wrote 2 Cor. 12: the chronology would not allow us to relate the heavenly visit to his baptism or to the Arabian stay. Some think the reference may be to his stoning (Acts 14:19-20) but there is no certainty in the matter. Paul was asserting that divine truth had been revealed to him, and there is no need to make more of this than that called for by the context.

God will not approve sin in heaven or earth (2 Pet. 2:4), and the inevitable end of sin is separation from God and the heavenly abode (Rom. 6:23).

Regarding God's laws, old or new, neither Jew nor Christian perfectly kept or measured up to the divine standards. God's laws, being expressions of His nature and character, are idealistic — pointing man ever higher, defining his failures, making him aware of his need for forgiveness. Space will not allow extensive discussion here, but we believe both the Jewish "congregation" and the "church" of the 1st. century consisted of imperfect people, imperfectly following divine instructions.

Perhaps I do not understand what the querist has in mind, but it suggests a "perfect, apostate, and then restored" institution that will somehow take its members to heaven. IF there was a perfect "church" today they wouldn't let me in, for I would ruin their reputation. The pattern is perfect, but we sinners need mercy.