Acts and Romans

Acts and Romans

Call, Commission, or Contradiction?!

Patterson 1

Call, Commission, or Contradiction?
Exploring Paul’s Three Conversion Accounts in Acts

Ken Patterson
Reformed Theological Seminary


Author Note: This research paper was prepared for Acts & Romans at the Reformed

Theological Seminary, taught by Dr. Guy Waters.

Call, Commission, or Contradiction? !

Patterson 2

In one of the most significant and dramatic accounts in the scriptures, we see a vivid
picture of the conversion of Paul. As we engage, we see “the great antagonist of the
gospel will be come its outstanding protagonist...the persecutor will be come the persecuted and suffer like Jesus.”1 Though the exact significance of Paul’s conversion is often debated, that it was a significant experience in Paul’s life, and subsequently Luke’s
narrative, is difficult to debate. Witherington comments: “without question, the story of
Saul’s ‘conversion’ is one of the most important events, if not the most important event,
that Luke records in Acts.”2 Perhaps this lends a clue as to why Luke includes Paul’s
conversion account no less than three times in Acts 9, 22, 26, with Paul adding two additional references of his own conversion both in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 and Galatians
1:11-16. What was Luke’s purpose for including the conversion of Paul three times?
Why does the redundancy of conversion accounts seem to produce inconsistencies?
What benefits can contemporary readers contextualize in their own lives and the life of
the church today?
The goal of this paper is to demonstrate how Luke’s narrative inclusion of three Pauline conversion accounts are in fact harmonious and not contradictory, serving as a rich
redemptive-historical and evangelistic resource for contemporary readers and the
church today. We will give treatment to the so called contradictions in these accounts
also as we will observe that the literary method in which Luke presents each account is
actually a gift in...

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