Learning How to WAIT. Paul the Man God Prepared: When God saved Paul in Acts 9, He was saving the modern day equivalent of an Ivy League scholar, with the personal discipline of a Special Forces Commander, all rolled up into Communicator that could speak and write in a way that captured people’s hearts and minds. Paul was one of those unbelievably gifted, talented, and packaged type of guys. But:
God doesn’t need scholars, as He is All Wise.
God doesn’t need discipline, because He is All Powerful.
God doesn’t need communicators, because His Voice is Inescapable.
God can use those qualities; but He doesn’t need them. So to get Paul to where He could use him, God had to prepare him. Paul’s preparation for ministry is actually the longest segment of his life. God takes 14 years to prepare Paul for a nearly non-stop 10 years of public ministry.
If you take the normal conservative dates for Paul’s life and ministry, and map them out across the pages of Acts you can see how much time it took to get Paul ready. We can see the following stages of Paul’s life:
STAGE-1: Saved on the Road to Damascus AD 33. Paul is saved on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-22). Most date this about AD 33.
STAGE-2: Trained in Arabia AD 33-35. Paul is trained for perhaps two years by Christ in Arabia (between Acts 9:22 and 23; see Galatians 1:17-18), in the Nabatean region to the south and east of Damascus.
STAGE-3: Home to Tarsus AD 36-43. Paul comes back so enthused that his enemies plot his death (Acts 9:23-30), so he is sent home to Tarsus. Paul is off the record for as much as six years while he grows, suffers, studies, and serves in his hometown. Barnabas comes looking for him in Acts 11:25.
STAGE-4: Discipled at Antioch AD 43-46. Paul gets to see the greatest days of the church as Barnabas mentors Paul in ministry at Antioch (Acts 11:26-30). It is during this time that God has prepared Paul enough, and in Acts 13:1-3 God signals that it is time. Paul is ready to be launched, and the church sets apart Paul & Barnabas for ministry. This begins the second dimension of Paul’s life.
Paul the Missionary God Sent. Paul never stopped serving God. This journey was just an enlargement of all Paul had been trained to do. Paul was a non-stop ambassador for the Gospel, who for 30 years traveled for Christ, lived for Christ, and proclaimed Christ.