What does Acts 22:13 mean?When Paul was a younger man, he sat under the teaching of the rabbi Gamaliel and learned how to be a properly devout and legalistic Pharisee (Acts 22:3). When Stephen was murdered, Paul approved (Acts 7:54–60; 22:20). He then received permission from the Sanhedrin to track down Jesus-followers in Jerusalem and abroad to bring them to trial where he voted for their deaths (Acts 8:1–3; 9:1–2; 26:10).
On his way to arresting Jewish Christians in Damascus, Paul met Jesus in a great light that literally blinded him. Jesus directed him to a specific house in Damascus and called His follower Ananias to meet him there. Ananias had heard of Paul and took some convincing. Yet when he arrived, he led Paul to put his faith in Christ and restored his sight (Acts 9:11–19; 22:12–16). Paul proclaimed Jesus in Damascus for some time before a plot was made against his life. Paul left Damascus and eventually returned to Jerusalem, where he met with persecution from his former associates (Acts 9:28–29; Galatians 1:15–24). Jesus sent him away from the Jews and told him to take the message of salvation to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21).
In his younger years, Paul would have never been seen with a Gentile, but for the last many years Gentiles have been his primary mission field. In fact, he has just returned from planting a church in Ephesus where he met a Gentile named Trophimus. Trophimus has joined a group of other Jesus-followers from around the Aegean Sea to bring support to the church in Jerusalem (Acts 20:4; Romans 15:26). Jews from Trophimus' district saw him with Paul in the city and later saw Paul in the temple. Thinking Paul had brought a Gentile into the temple, they attacked Paul (Acts 21:27–31). Paul responds by trying to explain why he associates with Gentiles: Jesus told him to.
The next day, Paul meets with the Sanhedrin and accidentally calls the high priest a "whitewashed wall" (Acts 23:1–5). This is one reason some scholars suggest Paul never fully regained his sight, and that partial blindness is the "thorn" Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 12:7.