Saul appears unable to hear Stephen’s Gospel message in Acts 7, based on Galatians 1:11-12.

We Learn in [Acts 7:58] - Saul (who also is called Paul, Acts 13:9) was present while the Sanhedrin stoned Stephen: “and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.” (καὶ ἐκβαλόντες ἔξω τῆς πόλεως ἐλιθοβόλουν καὶ οἱ μάρτυρες ἀπέθεντο τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτῶν παρὰ τοὺς πόδας νεανίου καλουμένου Σαύλου).

  • so Saul is only present while Stephen is saying an [almost] Gospel message in Acts 7:59 “And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (καὶ ἐλιθοβόλουν τὸν Στέφανον ἐπικαλούμενον καὶ λέγοντα Κύριε Ἰησοῦ δέξαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου).

  • But Saul was not present when the Sanhedrin heard Stephen’s Gospel message (since Galatians 1:11-12 is also true).

Paul states in [Galatians 1:11] “But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.” (Γνωρίζω δὲ ὑμῖν ἀδελφοί τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν ὑπ᾽ ἐμοῦ ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν κατὰ ἄνθρωπον·) - adding in [Galatians 1:12] “For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐγὼ παρὰ ἀνθρώπου παρέλαβον αὐτό οὔτε ἐδιδάχθην ἀλλὰ δι᾽ ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ)

If Saul Σαῦλος did hear Stephen’s Speech to Sanhedrin, why was Stephen’s Speech not considered a Gospel message to Paul Παῦλος based on Galatians 1:11-12?

  • Why did Saul not consider Stephen’s testimony a Gospel message about Jesus (since Galatians 1:12 claims no man taught Paul to think of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah)?
  • 2
    Paul was (obviously) aware of Christianity's (outrageous) claims (hence his involvement in anti-Christian persecution to begin with); however, he neither believed (received) them, nor understood them, let alone become a disciple of Stephen, so as to be taught by him anything.
    – Lucian
    Commented Oct 25, 2021 at 7:14

1 Answer 1


Paul's message, his in-depth theology and profound understanding of the Gospel could not have come from Stephen's brief speech - it would have required much more - that is why he went to Arabia for a while to learn directly from God. See appendix below.

Thus, I am confident that Saul/Paul heard Stephen's speech to the Sanhedrin; but to become the man he did become, he required far more and that appears to be direct instruction from God according to Gal 1:11.

APPENDIX - Paul's early Christian Life

As best I can work out, based on the record we have in Acts 9-15 and Gal 1 & 2, the sequence of events following Paul's conversion goes something like this. (The record in Acts is not continuous).

  • Saul receives his conversion experience on the road to Damascus, Acts 9:1-19
  • Immediately afterward Saul preached Jesus in the synagogues, Acts 9:20-22
  • How long he remained in Damascus preaching in the synagogues in unknown but it was probably a few months(??). He then went to Arabia for an unknown time, presumably to clarify his thinking. Gal 1:17
  • Saul then returned to Damascus. Acts 1:17. It is not clear whether the events of Acts 9:23-25 (the plot to kill Saul) was before or after the trip Arabia. I am inclined to the latter because it was after "many days" (Acts 9:23). In any case, at this point, Paul has thus far confined himself to synagogues. It was at this point that he decided to leave for Jerusalem.
  • Paul goes to Jerusalem 3 years after his conversion (Gal 1:18, Acts 1:26-29) to meet Cephas/Peter and other leaders. Saul is still only dealing with Jews and not gentiles. Acts 9:29.

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