The Apostle Paul: Completely changed – two times

The Apostle Paul: Completely changed – two times

The road to Damascus was just the beginning for Paul.

08/03/20248 min

By ActiveChristianity

The Apostle Paul: Completely changed – two times

The Apostle Paul is possibly one of the best-known persons in the Bible. The letters he wrote thousands of years ago are still important for us today. They give us understanding, instruction and hope. To see how Paul was changed is a shining example for every Christian.

The Apostle Paul calls himself a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisee that was educated by Gamaliel who was one of the most important teachers in his time. He knew the law and kept it. In his desire to please God, he persecuted the early Christians, because he thought they were totally against God and His laws. He arrested and put them in prison, and was even present when Stephen was stoned to death. In Acts 9:1 he is described as threatening to murder the disciples, because of their “sin” of believing in Jesus Christ.

You might think that someone who was so strong in his beliefs, so fixed in a certain way of life, so fully convinced that the followers of Jesus were dangerous, that such a person would never change. But God had a different plan for Paul.

As Paul travelled on the road to Damascus to persecute the Christians, he had a life-changing experience. Jesus Himself appeared to him as a light from heaven. This personal experience with Jesus Christ caused Paul to fully repent. From that moment he turned from persecuting Jesus’ followers to becoming a disciple of Jesus himself.

After this experience he immediately started preaching Christ! He didn’t wonder if what he was doing was right, or talk himself out of it. He had experienced Christ and had a completely new focus in life. His mission now was to preach Jesus to the Gentiles, as well as to kings and the children of Israel. (Acts 9.)

The road to Damascus was just the beginning

Although he was now born again, with a new heart, a new attitude of mind, and a new life, Paul’s conversion didn’t change who he was by nature. But now he had met Christ, and his whole heart’s desire was to get to know Him personally – Christ had become everything for him! His powerful testimony was, “For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” Philippians 1:21 (NLT).

This longing to please Christ made him deeply humble, because he saw that everything he had as a natural person was useless to please Christ. This man who had been so strong in himself, so “righteous”, said in Philippians 3:7-8 (CEV), “But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ.”

The Apostle Paul no longer saw himself as someone great, but as someone who needed to be completely changed. Because he was so humble to admit this, God could now start changing Paul inwardly – change him to be like Christ. (Romans 8:29.) God showed him how to follow Jesus, to follow the life Jesus had lived on earth, so that he could learn to know Jesus personally and become like Him. He says further in Philippians 3:10 (NCV), “I want to know Christ and the power that raised him from the dead. I want to share in his sufferings and become like him in his death.” 

Paul never tried to reason his way out of what needed to be done. There are many places in the New Testament where we can see that Paul’s aim was to overcome the sin in his human nature, so that the life of Christ could become his life. (2 Corinthians 4:10.)

He testifies to this when he says in Philippians 3:12-14 (GNT), “I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself. Of course, my friends, I really do not think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God's call through Christ Jesus to the life above.” 

Revelation from God

So Paul was changed two times in his life! The first time was when he repented, when his heart, his attitude of mind, was completely changed. He described this in Ephesians 4:22-24 as putting off the “old man”, the old attitude of mind, and putting on the “new man”, getting a new attitude of mind – this can be done in one moment, an act of faith.

But the second change was a longer process; the process of sanctification where his sinful nature was little by little replaced by the fruits of the Spirit, by godly nature - and this happened by daily taking up his cross and saying No when he was tempted.

God was able to give Paul powerful revelations. Because he was humble and obedient to what God showed, God could change him completely. And God could use the letters Paul wrote as the Word of God; to instruct and reveal God’s will to generations of disciples!

At the end of his life Paul was able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (NLT). He received the end goal of his faith – the salvation of his soul. (1 Peter 1:9.)

Paul’s powerful testimonies

The best part of all is that this gospel that Paul preached, through his letters but most importantly, with his life, is open to you and to me! It is also possible for you and me to change completely! Let’s believe in these words from Paul and follow his steadfast example and live like this:

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NLT).

“Don't be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.” Romans 12:2 (CEV).

“So our faces are not covered. They show the bright glory of the Lord, as the Lord's Spirit makes us more and more like our glorious Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (CEV).

Just think that the man who wrote these words is the same man who started off down the road to Damascus, thinking that he was better and more righteous than others, persecuting believers, so wrong in every way! So none of us can use our background as an excuse. Thank God for the example Paul became for us, and for all that he did so that we could hear the gospel and that we can also change!

If we follow Paul’s example, we will also be able at the end of our life to say like Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7 (NLT), “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” 

* In the early chapters of Acts, The Apostle Paul is referred to as Saul. To keep it simple, we call him Paul throughout the whole article.

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This article is based on an article by Ann Steiner originally published on and has been adapted with permission for use on this website.