18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing you is no lie. 21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they praised God because of me.
Miraculous, Paul’s conversion. Not unique. There are people who used to be convinced Muslims, and are now passionately carrying out the message of the gospel. Amongst them are scholars who had prominent positions in Islamic institutes. Others were baptised and have now become Muslim. That is not such a miracle: man-made religions are humanly more acceptable. Moreover, whereas the costs of a conversion to Christ can be high, converting from him often bears little risk of retaliation from family or former brothers.
After his conversion, Paul did not adhere to a Jewish-Christian church in Jerusalem or elsewhere in Judea. From the Ishmaelites in Arabia he continued his travels to the gentiles in Syria and and Cilicia. To Tarsus and around on the South Coast of the present Turkey, where Paul came to the world. After that he would again, guided by the Holy Spirit, go his own way. Through Asia Minor, to Europe. Not because he had a different view on faith. God had a special order for this newly recruited warrior.
The Christians about did not even know what Paul looked like. Soon however he became generally known. How did they react? Triumphant thanks to this trophy they conquered back from the Jews? Did they think Paul was excellent? No, they praised God. Muslims often say al hamdu lillah: praise be to Allah, thanks be to God. Likewise sounded the reaction of the Judaic Christians when they heard what happened to Saul: “Glory to God”.
I will sing my Maker’s praises
And in Him most joyful be,
For in all things I see traces
Of His tender love to me.
Nothing else than love could move Him
With such sweet and tender care
Evermore to raise and bear
All who try to serve and love Him.
All things else have but their day,
God’s great love abides for aye.