1. Galatians 1:17 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

What did Paul do in Arabia and when did he return to Damascus?

Galatians 1:17 (ESV)

17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

Paul’s visit to Arabia is not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture. Luke omits details from his narrative (Acts),1 most likely because it was not vital to his record of the growth of the early church.2 The region of Arabia was quite vast and sparsely populated. This has led some scholars to argue that Paul spent some time in rest, prayer, and meditation.3 The Arabian region also included the Nabatean kingdom ruled by king Aretas. Paul will testify in 2 Corinthians 11:32–33 that he was wanted in Damascus by this king. The hostility of Aretas suggests that he was preaching the gospel in Arabia/The Nabatean Kingdom during the time he spent there.4 Exactly how long he was in Arabia before returning to Damascus is unknown.