What does Acts 22:7 mean?Paul is explaining why he associates with Gentiles. He recounts how he converted from persecuting the church to building churches among the non-Jews. Years before, the Sanhedrin had granted him permission to hunt Jesus-followers in Damascus. Outside the city, a bright light enveloped him, and he heard a voice (Acts 9:1–6).
During the Last Supper, Jesus warned the disciples that as they spread His offer of forgiveness and reconciliation with the Father, the world would persecute them. He explained their message—the person of Jesus—is not of this world, and any rejection they encounter will be against Him, not them specifically. In fact, their rejection is against God the Father who sent Jesus to the world (John 15:18–25).
Fortunately, Paul listened to Jesus' words. He accepted that he was wrong and readily admitted his crimes against Jesus' followers (Acts 26:9–11). He then accepted Jesus' offer of forgiveness and readily took the responsibility to spread His message among the Gentiles. Unlike others who had a hard time accepting Gentiles (Acts 11:1–3; 15:1–2), perhaps Paul understands that no Gentile could dishonor the Messiah more than he had. In fact, he later writes to Timothy, "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost" (1 Timothy 1:15).
Between Jesus' words to Paul outside Damascus and this day before the crowd of Jews, Paul has faced a great deal of persecution by those who rejected Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:24–28). Besides various beatings, he was stoned and left for dead in Lystra (Acts 14:19). There's more to come; although the Holy Spirit has revealed to Paul he will be arrested (Acts 20:22–23), he doesn't know he will be incarcerated for the next five years.