We first wanted to thank you for your website on the Bible and Jesus Christ. We have a question about the Apostle Paul that we hoped you may be able to answer. I was at a Sunday school class and asked the question, did Paul ever meet Jesus? The answer I got from the group was no. On the road to Damascus Paul met Jesus after he had ascended into heaven. Was Jesus’s appearance physical or spiritual? Please give us some insight.
There’s no indication from Scripture that Paul and Jesus ever met before the Damascus Road incident. And Acts 9:4-7 doesn’t specify whether the Lord’s encounter with Paul was physical or not. It only says Paul saw a bright light and heard a voice. The men with him heard a loud sound but didn’t see anything. In subsequent re-tellings of the encounter Paul never indicated that He had actually seen Jesus at that time.
But Paul did spend 3 years in Arabia where he received the Gospel from the Lord (Galatians 1:11-17). And he made a visit to the Throne of God (2 Cor. 12:1-4) where he saw things he was not allowed to talk about. In 1 Cor. 15:3-8, when Paul recounted all the Lord’s post resurrection appearances, he included himself as one who had seen Him. So, at some point, he apparently did have a physical meeting with the Lord.