THE Christian apostle Paul was fluent in certain major languages of his day. He had received the equivalent of a university education today. He enjoyed all the advantages and rights of a Roman citizen. (Acts 21:37-40; 22:3, 28) These credentials could have enabled him to become rich and famous. Yet, he said: “What things were gains to me, these I have considered loss on account of the Christ . . . and I consider them as a lot of refuse, that I may gain Christ.” (Philippians 3:7, 8) Why did Paul make such a statement?
Formerly known as Saul of Tarsus and as a persecutor of those “who belonged to The Way,” Paul became a believer after being given a vision of the resurrected and glorified Jesus. (Acts 9:1-19) For Paul, this experience on the road to Damascus proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus was the promised Messiah, or Christ, the future ruler of the promised Kingdom. It also brought about a dramatic change in Paul’s life course, as indicated by his forceful statement noted above. In other words, being sincere and of honest heart, Paul repented.—Galatians 1:13-16.
In the Bible, the verb “repent” is often translated from a Greek word that literally means “afterknowing,” as opposed to “foreknowing.” Thus, repentance involves a change in one’s mind, attitude, or purpose, a rejection of one’s former ways as unsatisfactory. (Acts 3:19; Revelation 2:5) In Paul’s case, he did not let that momentous event on the road to Damascus remain simply an emotional or even a so-called spiritual experience. For him it was an awakening to the fact that his former way of life, in ignorance of Christ, was futile. He realized, too, that in order to benefit from his newly found knowledge about the Christ, he must do something to rectify his life course.—Romans 2:4; Ephesians 4:24.