1:17Jerusalem . . . Arabia . . . Damascus. Paul’s conversion and call took place near Damascus (Acts 9:3; 22:6; 26:12). He spent several days in the city after his conversion (Acts 9:19). This ancient city is on a fertile plain between two rivers, and the traveler from there must literally “go up” to Jerusalem in the Palestinian highlands. Jerusalem was the cultural and religious center of Palestine, and home to James, Peter, and John, who are prominent in Acts and Galatians as leaders of the early Christian community in Jerusalem (2:9). Paul stresses that his call to preach to the Gentiles came from God and not from the leaders of the Jerusalem church. Arabia was ruled by a Nabatean king, Aretas IV, who struggled with Rome for control of Damascus. When Paul was converted, Aretas’s governor was in control of the city and apparently aided angry Jews in an effort to kill Paul (Acts 9:23–25; 2 Cor. 11:32, 33).
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