God called Paul to himself by revealing Christ to him. Now, this should sound Pauline, because it is. “Those whom he predestined he also called” (Romans 8:30). Those whom he set apart before they were born, he calls.
Galatians 1:15–16, “When he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace was pleased to reveal his Son to me” — I think that calling and that revealing are probably simultaneous. The opening of Paul’s inner being to the glory, truth, and beauty of the Son was the effectual call of Paul into life and into apostleship. They weren’t separated events.
Before he was called, he was destined, and when he was destined, later he was called. It says in Galatians 1:16 that God was pleased to reveal his Son to him: that’s how the call happened. A lot of interpreters stumble because the word is revealed in Paul — not to him, revealed in him. I think the idea there is that what happened on the Damascus road when that light shone and that voice was spoken wasn’t twofold, like, “Whoa, that’s bright; that’s scary.” It just went totally into his heart. And in there with the eyes of the heart (Ephesians 1:18) he saw: “That’s real, that’s true, that’s beautiful, that’s glorious. If you are anything, you are everything, my religion is over!”
Read Philippians 3: “If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless” (Philippians 3:4–6).
And all that’s dung now. Because I’ve seen (Philippians 3:7–8).
That’s what happened. God revealed his Son in him. In him. It’s not like, “Right now I’m revealing Jesus to you, and later there’ll be a lot more.” If God shows up here right now, way more than that will happen. Something deep inside of you, something deep in you, the real you, is going to either say, “I don’t want anything to do with that.” Or, “This is everything.”