Did Paul think he only saw a light when Jesus “appeared” (i.e. not Jesus himself)?

  • Question

    All three Acts account speak of Jesus “appearing” to Paul, describing a dazzling heavenly light that blinds him and the voice of Jesus saying “Saul Saul, Why are you persecuting me?” Moreover, Paul’s letters make references too light. So, rather than Paul seeing Jesus’s “body of glory” (Phil 3:21) itself, did Paul believe he only saw an amorphous light (and heard a voice from it), which had not humanoid physical source within it or causing it? This would stand in contrast to the resplendant light originating from a particlar spatially located source like this:

    • Ezekiel 4:15 — As I looked, behold, a storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a bright light around it, and in its midst something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire. 5 Within it there were figures resembling four living beings. And this was their appearance: they had human form.
“Yes, after all…
  • Paul believes Jesus was raised bodily

    Paul maintained that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was a physical rising (i.e. leaving behind an empty grave).

    A full page will analyze at least these 8 arguments:

    • 1 Cor 15:2-11 (“died,… buried,… rose”) says so.
    • Col 2:9 (“bodily form”) says so.
    • Grk. “anastasis” = physical resurrection (by default).
    • Grk. “egeiro” = physical resurrection (by default).
    • Paul taught a personal return of Christ.
    • Jesus overthrows death; he doesn’t flee it.
    • Jesus’s resurrection matches how ours will be.
    • Rom 8: 11 (“give life, mortal bodies”).

    This is relevant because Paul repeatedly says “Jesus” appeared to him (even if the body shone bright, which is virtually predictable this shining was associated with glory). It’s hard to imagine Paul saying that “Jesus” appeared to him if it wasn’t Jesus himself—i.e. the risen Jesus he believed in, body and all.

    But no... [All Forthcoming]

    • Paul says we are raised non-physically.
    • Paul doesn’t know of an empty tomb.
    • 1 Cor 15:45 (“life-giving spirit”) says its non-physical.
    • Paul says Jesus fills all (Eph 1:23).
    • 1 Pet 3:18 (made alive in the spirit).
    • Paul is critical of physical bodies.
  • Acts harmonizes with Paul’s letters

    The account of Paul’s life in the book of Acts comports well with the picture given by Paul’s own writings.

    This full article [Forthcoming] analyzes 12 arguments:

    • Acts says Paul sees his calling via Her 1 and Isa 49.
    • Acts says Paul had impeccable Jewish credentials.
    • Acts says Paul was a persecutor of the church.
    • Acts says Paul converted in way xyz around Damascus.
    • Acts says Paul supported himself by labor.
    • Acts says Paul works to support himself (so-as not to burden converts).
    • Acts says Paul goes first to Jews, then Gentiles.
    • Acts says adapts well to diff audiences (e.g. Jew/Gentile).
    • Acts articulates a salvation history.
    • Acts says Paul visits local synagogues first.
    • Acts sermons match Paul.

    This is relevant because Paul says he saw Jesus himself—not just a light.

    *But no…

    • [All forthcoming]
“No, after all…
  • Acts mentions light, but no body

    Acts 9, 22, 26 mentions this light but describes no body sourcing it. This is relevant because Acts get’s Paul right (re the appearance to him), and Paul says that in this appearance it was Jesus who he saw.

    But no...

    • Acts 9:7 says Paul did see Jesus form.1
    • Paul believed Jesus’ risen body shone as a dazzling light.1
    1. Acts 9:7 -- “The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but [unlike Paul] seeing no one.”
    2. See above. Within the Jewish context of the event, there was a source the light which blinded Paul. If the figure of Jesus could be made out enough for further description, then the light it gave off would obviously not have been blinding.