Paul sipped the coffee and set his mug on the bookshelf next to my rocking chair.
“You asked how I changed from being devoted to destroying the church in its infancy?” he said. “It’s simple. God stopped me.”
“Luke talked about it at length in his history of the time. I shared with him the details while we were traveling together. But in writing this letter to the Galatians, that whole biography didn’t matter. So I didn’t tell it. Instead, I pointed out that God had plans for me from before I was born. And at just the right time, I saw Jesus. I saw him as clearly as all of the disciples who had talked with him before and after his death. I saw him as convictingly as Thomas wanting a sign, as Peter owning up to his denial.”
I started to ask a question. He held up a finger.
“And God’s calling and the reason for the revelation was to send me, the young Jewish genius, across the cultural line to the Gentiles.”
He picked up his mug. I guessed that he was committed to making his calling clear even in conversations like this. I took the opportunity to speak.
“But why don’t you talk more about the voice of Jesus and being blind for a few days in Damascus? We love that story. It’s a great story to tell little kids.”
“I know,” Paul said. “But in this letter, I wasn’t telling stories to amuse preschoolers. I was establishing my credentials as an apostle, as a God-commissioned agent for Jesus. My timeline is accurate. But it isn’t comprehensive. My God-prompted reason for writing was fundamentally different from Luke’s.”
“Like the difference between “The Gettysburg Address” and a history of the Revolutionary War?” I said. “One giving a comprehensive account and the other making an argument?”
Paul shrugged. “I can only speak of what I know,” he said. “And I know that I needed to show this church that God had taught me everything I knew, not Peter.”
He took another sip of coffee. And left for the week.