Paul saw Christ. There, on the road to Damascus in Syria the future apostle met up with a vision of Christ that shaped his entire future, the future of the Christian world, and of the world in general. Later, in his defense to King Agrippa, he recalled what Christ said to him on that day:
“But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have APPEARED to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things you have SEEN (some MSS read “seen Me”), but also to the things in which I WILL APPEAR to you.” Acts 28:16
On another tense night in Jerusalem Paul reported something more than a vision:
“But on the night immediately following, the Lord STOOD at his side and said, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also.” Acts 23:11
Paul said that he had many visions and revelations, even experiencing (“whether in the body or out of the body” he did not know) the third heaven–“into Paradise” where he “heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak” (see 2 Cor 12:1-4).
What do we make of this? Let me tell you what NOT to make of it. We should not make of it that we all can and should expect such visitations ourselves. No, these were mentioned precisely because they were unique visitations designed to specially qualify a man as God’s instrument at a critical time in church history. If everyone may have such visitations, then Paul is nothing unusual at all.
Rather these experiences assure us that Christ Himself actually commissioned Paul and that we ought, therefore, to listen to his words as the words of Christ’s prophet.