When was Saul, later known as Paul, most free?
When we first meet Paul, in Acts 7: 58-60 at the stoning of Jesus Disciple Stephen, he is still going by the name Saul, of Tarsus. We find him nodding in approval at the stoning of Stephen, then shortly after that event we read of his persecution of the believers in Christ.
Saul ultimately became a convert to Christ, and became better known by the name of Paul.
Later we find Paul a prisoner in Rome, though still able to write letters. From his incarceration he wrote the letters we now know as Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. and yet I can’t help wonder if this was not the time of his life when he was most a prisoner.
In the physical prison in Rome Paul could think for himself and communicate with some of the early churches. It is apparent that his letters were uncensored. He was free in the way that mattered; his mind was free to think for himself.
Could he have been more of a prisoner when we first meet him as Saul, persecuting and imprisoning Jesus followers?
Saul/Paul was evidently an educated man to be a pharisee, but how much was education and how much had been indoctrination? He persecuted Christ’s followers mercilessly but was this because he didn’t know any better? It seems it might have been something in his mind drove him to these acts, something he was unable to control but which had control of him.
It was his conversion (Acts 9: 1-18) that freed him for the rest of his life, even when he was physically confined. Now his thoughts were clear and were his own. Paradoxically it was in his blindness that his eyes were opened and that he became free.
For Paul, and perhaps for prisoners of conscience throughout the ages, physical imprisonment is not an end to freedom, just a different kind of freedom.
“scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again” – Acts 9: 18