Did Paul visit the Jerusalem church/Peter 15 days to learn about Jesus?

  • Clarifying the question

    Did Paul travel to Jerusalem and stay with the Jerusalem church (or a member like Peter) with an intention to learn about the historical Jesus?

“Yes, after all…
  • In Gal 1:18 Paul says he stayed at Peter’s to get info

    In Galatians 1:18, Paul reports that he “stayed with him [Peter] fifteen days” to get acquainted with Peter as an apostle and eyewitness of Jesus.1

    After all...

    • This is the information Paul needed most.2
    • That is the information Peter (a fisherman) had which the learned Paul would deem valuable; not much else.3

    So? Maybe Paul was lying.4

    1. We read

      Gal 1:18 — “Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas [Peter] and get information from him,” [NET translation] In this context the Greek word “historēsai” (ἱστορῆσαι)—from which we get “history”—truly does mean “to get information.”

      Contextually Paul in this verse says he is visiting Jesus’s apostle(s) to consult with them, After all, in the verse immediately before (v16-17) he just said he that prior to such visiting he did not “consult” with anyone in Jerusalem.
      IVP Dictionary of Paul and His Letters: “The verb historeo suggests that Paul went to see Peter in order to gain information.” It is quite likely that at this time he received such traditions as he delivered in 1 Corinthians 7:10; 11:23-25; 15:3-7. It may even be that during this visit Paul learned of his resurrection appearances to Peter (1 Cor 15:5) and the James (1 Cor 15:7) from these "pillars" (Gal 2:9) themselves. The second visit involved all the apostles and center on the issue of circumcision (Gal 2:1-3) and Paul'sapostleship (Gal 2:7-10). [Robert Stein, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, ed. Hawthorne & Martin (IVP, 1993) 465.]

    2. Michael Licona: “…[Paul] was convinced he had experienced a personal encounter with the risen Christ, and it now forced him to rethink everything he had learned and thought about the Messiah, Jewish praxis, and theological matters including atonement, the kingdom of God, eschatology and even the nature of God. He had spoken about his new views of Jesus in the synagogues and debated with his Jewish countrymen. But Paul had much work ahead of him. He would study these matters through an intensive examination of the Scriptures in order to make sense of what he now regarded as reality. Emerging from his three-year sabbatical in Arabia, we can imagine Paul wanting to complete his task by interviewing one or more of the people who had traveled with Jesus. There were no better sources for Paul than the Jerusalem apostles. There he would talk with Peter and learn about Jesus' teachings. He would ask him what it was like to travel with Jesus. He would have the heavy theological discussions he so much valued during which he would share and hone his findings.” [The Resurrection of Jesus (IVP, 2010), 230-231.]

    3. Samuel Byrskog: “the simple Galilean fisherman, was apparently a person whom even a newly converted proto- rahbi, who was probably trained in advanced techniques of torah transmission, took effort to become acquainted with. The simple fisherman must have had important things to tell his learned friend.” [Story as History—History as Story (Brill Academic, 2002), 73.]
    4. The likelihood of Paul lying here is low. After all,…
      • …Paul was honest as far as we can tell.
      • …this was too overtly falsifiable.
      • …this is not a lie Paul would enjoy telling.

      Richard Bauckham: “It is very notable that in Galatians, even in the context of Paul's strong concern to maintain the independence of his apostleship from Jerusalem, he admits that three years after his call to be an apostle he did visit Jerusalem and spent two weeks with Peter (Gal 1:18).” [Jesus and the Eyewitnesses 2nd ed. (Eerdmans, 2007), 266.]