Preachers will commonly describe the “conversion” of Paul (Saul) on the road to Damascus in Acts 9. But was this truly a conversion?
It depends on how you define “conversion.” Paul is sometimes presented as converting from Judaism to Christianity. That is not exactly accurate and I don’t think that Paul would have understood that concept.
Paul didn’t see himself as changing from one religion to another. In fact, Judaism and Christianity didn’t even exist as two separate religions. He saw Jesus as the Jewish Messiah who was foretold in the Jewish Scriptures.
Yes there was a change and it was more than just a minor addition to his previous religious views. It was not as simple as tagging on some Jesus to his existing Jewish beliefs.
Meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus was a radical transformation for Paul, something that totally changed the direction of Paul’s life.
In this way, Paul really was converted. The word conversion comes from Latin and it refers to being “turned about.” In the basic sense, that is exactly what happened to Paul.
Paul was going in one direction and encountering Jesus turned him around and pointed him in another direction.
So was Paul converted? If we avoid the term in the sense of a change in religion and see it as a “turning about,” yes Paul was converted.