Paul was born under the name Saul in Tarsus of Cilicia (which is now part of Turkey) around 3 to 5 AD. Therefore, by the time Jesus was crucified he would have been around 30 years of age. Since Paul was taught by Gamaliel (Ac 22:3), who was a key figure in the Sanhedrin in the middle of the first century and the grandson of the great Jewish teach Hillel the Elder. Therefore, it is unlikely that Paul would not have met Jesus during his lifetime since he would have been in Jerusalem during the time of Jesus’ ministry. However, he would have been opposed to the teachings of Jesus like many of the other Pharisees would have been. Therefore, he would not have had an intimate relationship with Jesus and his teaching – at least not until Jesus met him on the road to Damascus (Ac 9:1-9). It really shows that Paul had the zeal to serve God but was just misguided as after he understood that Jesus was indeed Lord, he had the same zeal to serve Jesus Christ. This wasn’t the only experience with Jesus Christ, though. We find that he had a vision where he was translated into the third heaven and heard inexpressible things (2Co 12:4). Therefore, this was an experience not held by any other apostle. This likely occurred not too long after his conversion – maybe when he spent his time in Arabia (Ga 1:17). This is also likely when God revealed to him the mystery of the church and how the Gentiles will be heirs with Israel (Ep 3:4-11; Cl 1:25-17), and how the rapture will occur before Christ’s second coming (1Co 15:51-52; 1Th 4:13-18). Therefore, I think this does qualify for the first criterion.
Miracles were usually characteristics of an apostle. One could point out that Stephen who was a deacon also performed miracles (Ac 6:8). However, as the church seemed to grow, the people capable of miracles was mainly around those characterized as apostles (2Co 12:12). There were many miracles that were accomplished by Paul: he told Elymas that he would become blind for a season and he did (Ac 13:9-11), signs and wonders done at Iconium (Ac 14:3), healed a crippled man in Lystra (Ac 14:8); healed a demon possessed girl in Philippi (Ac 16:18); extraordinary miracles were performed in Ephesus where people were healed with handkerchiefs that had touched him (Ac 19:11-12); he brought Eutychus back to life in Troas (Ac 20:9-10), and being bitten by a viper had no effect on him (Ac 28:3-6).
Based upon these criteria it would seem that Paul would meet the criteria for being called an apostle. So what about Matthias who was chosen by Peter and the disciples shortly after Christ’s ascension (Ac 1:12-26)? And what about Judas? Do we have 12, 13 or 14 apostles? We will discuss this next time.
Why was Paul the Apostle to Gentiles?
How Christians and Jews are Connected