From Where Did Saint Paul Get The Gospel?

Saint Paul had his conversion on the road to Damascus where he met the risen Christ and was blinded. He went on to Damascus where he was healed and baptized.

He then spent three years in the desert of Arabia and then visited Peter and James in Jerusalem spending two weeks there before beginning his ministry.

Historians argue that Paul learned the Gospel from Peter and James during those two weeks due to the Greek word used for his visit which implies a substantive investigation.

But Gal 1:11-16 suggests that he received the Gospel directly from Jesus and not from the Apostles and from this many assign high prominance to his theolgy even though he and the other Apostles ultimately come to agreement.

11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.[a] 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. 13 For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. 14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when he who had set me apart before I was born,** and who called me by his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to[c] me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;[d]**

What’s the official Catholic view?

Paul had his come to Jesus learning moment on the road to Damascus, AND he learned from Peter, AND he learned from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, just like the other apostles and writers of scripture did.

As far as WHY the Holy Spirit was sent, and WHAT the Holy Spirit taught, Jesus put it this way. [FONT=&quot]John 14:25-26[/FONT]. , **[FONT=&quot]John 16:12-15 **
BTW, what’s a pagan Catholic? :confused:

Paul was an expert in the Old Testament Scriptures.

What he learned from Jesus or anyone else made perfect sense to him based in his intimate knowledge of the Old Testament.


**Three years in the desert? I never knew that. Are you able to elaborate on this? **

I think he’s referring to Galatians 1:17-18 but I don’t read it as he spent 3 years in Arabia, but rather that he went to Arabia, then to Damascus, then to Jerusalem 3 years later. How long he spent in Arabia and how long in Damascus isn’t specified.

Google “Paul in the desert” and you’ll find plenty such as:

The Biblical source is Galatians 1:

15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16 to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17 neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

Yes, the source is imprecise on this. I can’t remember why more time is not attribugted to Damascus, but perhaps because wandering the dessert is more prophetical. People speculate that he went to Mt. Sinai.

No other apostle makes such a claim as that, though. Many have inferred a special knowledge unique to Paul apart from the other apostles whreas later scripture says that Paul checked his teachings against that of the other apostles which would be odd if he had unique Gospel knowledge.

Paul’s unique knowledge of Christianity is completely understandable given his extensive training and expertise in the Old Testament Scriptures.

Paul was a prodigy. Rabban Gamaliel personally trained Paul. Devout Jews revere Gamaliel to this day and refer to him with the title Rav which means Prince.

"I am a Jew, born at Tarsus in Cili’cia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gama’li-el, educated according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as you all are this day. (Acts 22:3)

Paul had a deep understanding of Christianity because he had a deep understanding of Old Testament Judaism. This is why Paul was so zealous for Judaism and persecuted the Church. It is why Jesus chose Paul. It is why Peter acknowledges that his teaching is so deep that it is difficult to understand.

The word educated in the Bible is worth noting. Paul says that he was “educated.” Peter and the other Apostles however, were “uneducated.” This does not mean that they were not schooled or that they were illiterate as some assume. It means that they had no formal training in the Law and the Prophets as would a scribe (rabbi) or priest. Peter and the other Apostles had ordinary training as would any Jew who went to the synagogue on the Sabbath.


All of this makes sense. But it does not explain Paul’s claims in Gal 1:11-16. (Assuming his knowledge of the OT was taught by men.)

Thanks for the reference. It was fun to read in light of this thread. Really appreciate that.

I think Paul’s expertise on OT Judaism does explain his ability to understand revealed truth, the clarity with which he saw the truth once it was revealed to him. He was certainly touched by Jesus in a very personal way and that is most certainly the catalyst. The same thing happened to the two travelers on the road to Emmaus.

They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)

Sadly, mysticism is all but forgotten nowadays, seen as the realm of monks or gurus but not for the common man.


Paul does not specify whether God revealed the Gospel to him directly while in the desert of Arabia, Damascus, or in between. Clearly he received instruction from the believers, but

"I must boast; there is nothing to be gained by it, but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. 3And I know that this man was caught up into Paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. "2 Corinthians 12:1–4

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit