The third minimal fact about the resurrection of Jesus Christ presented by Dr. Gary Habermas and Dr. Michael Licona in their work, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus, is that early church persecutor Saul was radically changed into Christian leader Paul.
Like the disciples, something radical happened in the life of Paul to change him from a man who was hunting Christians to a man who was leading them.
Paul wrote many books of the New Testament, and he wrote about his own history as a persecutor of the early church. Luke wrote in the book of Acts about Paul’s history in more detail than Paul himself did, but the Biblical testimony is clear that Paul was a persecutor of the early church.
This fact does not rely on the Bible being divinely inspired whatsoever for those of you who are uncomfortable with appealing to the Bible as a source. Rather, this is considering the Bible like any other historical document. Therefore, even if you don’t want to believe it is infallible or divinely inspired whatsoever, that really doesn’t damage this fact whatsoever.
Paul himself was sharing something that was potentially damaging about his past. He was open about the fact that he was an enemy of the church at the beginning before he turned his life around. Galatians 1:23 points out the fact that Paul even found the churches in Judea telling stories about him. “They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’”
Believing that Paul wrote a letter to the Galatian church about his own life that explained his conversion to them does not take any type of belief in divine inspiration whatsoever. Paul is telling his story to this church in, minimally, a generally reliable way just like any other letter that we have from antiquity. His conversion is really not a debatable issue.
This authenticity of his conversion is cemented even further by the fact that he was also martyred for his faith just like many of the disciples. Interestingly though, he had a first-hand perspective like the disciples.
“Today we might believe that Jesus rose from the dead based on secondary evidence, trusting Paul and the disciples who saw the risen Jesus. But for Paul, his experience came from primary evidence: the risen Jesus appeared directly to him. He did not merely believe based on the testimony of someone else.”
Paul’s conversion requires an explanation just like the belief that the disciples had in the resurrection of Jesus.
Perhaps if this fact stood by itself, you might say that Paul was hallucinating, but if group hallucinations cannot happen, that does not explain the fact that the men who are traveling with Paul at the time of his conversion heard sound as well (Acts 9:7, NIV).
It also does not jive with the rest of our minimal facts. Perhaps some could say that the disciples had a type of grief hallucination if we are willing to believe the unproven idea that group hallucinations can happen. The disciples were upset about the death of Jesus, so maybe it was a type of wishful thinking. That does not apply for Paul though. He certainly was not grieving the death of Jesus; he was persecuting followers of Jesus.
This is the ultimate power of the minimal facts argument. As we begin to think about stories that fit in all the facts surrounding the events of Jesus’ death and our examination of the resurrection, there are certain explanations that seem reasonable, but they have a hard time handling all the facts at once.
Next week, we’re going to have two more facts before talking more about how to reconcile all of this information into one cohesive narrative.
 Gary R. Habermas and Michael R. Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2004), Kindle Locations 584-586, Kindle Edition.