The Bible does not indicate that the Apostle Paul was ever present when Jesus spoke during the three years or so He ministered before His crucifixion; it only says that Jesus appeared to Paul after His resurrection. I wonder, though. I would not be surprised to learn that Paul was one of the Pharisees who continually tried to entrap or accuse Jesus, like those who were present when Jesus told the parable of the Prodigal Son.
Why do I think that is a possibility? One reason is this passage from Romans 8:15-16
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
When the Prodigal Son repented, he had made up his mind that he would be content to be a slave on his father’s estate. His father, though, would have none of that. This was his son, and he would remain his son. This concept of slave versus child is presented both by Paul and by Christ.
So what distinguishes a slave from a child? Why is it important enough that both Paul and Christ use the theme?. A slave in the Roman Empire had limited rights. He or she was property and could be bought or sold. A slave was at the mercy of the master, for better or worse.
A child, however, not only had far greater rights under the law, but was also loved. To the child, the head of the house was not named Master, but Father.
We’re you ever scared as a child? I remember being scared and crawling in bed with my parents and clinging to their side. I remember calling out, “Mommy” or “Daddy!” That’s what Abba means… Daddy (literally, papa). The loving protection of the Father is what distinguishes the child from the slave.
Isn’t it great to know that because we are children of our Heavenly Father that He loves us and will protect us? We don’t need to fear, but if we do, He wants us to call to Him, take His hand, and cling to His side.