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Although the narrative in Acts 9 makes it sound as if the events described beginning in Acts 9:26 occurred immediately after the events described in Acts 9:1-25, there was in fact an interval of three years between them (as noted by Paul himself in Galatians 1:18), during which Paul remained mostly alone in the desert (except for occasional returns to Damascus) in solitary contemplation of his encounter with the glorified Christ on the Damascus road (Acts 9:3-7)(which had led to Paul's conversion to Christianity), and in preparation for the ministry to which God was calling him. As an extraordinary part of that preparation, Paul (speaking of himself in the third person in 2 Corinthians 12:2-5 in order to avoid the appearance of boasting) was granted by God either a spiritual or actual physical experience in which he was taken up into Paradise (the abode to which Jesus referred in Luke 23:43), and then permitted to return to earth. The knowledge and insights that Paul gained as a result of this experience (which were too wonderful for him to even be able to convey them) prepared him as nothing else could have for his future missionary service.
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