How do you explain this? Only one explanation will work—he saw something that had more value. God revealed Christ to him in a vision. After that he was as gentle and submissive as a newborn. Meeting Christ was just that powerful. It was the surpassing value that turned everything upside down in a moment.
Most do not understand the implications and ramifications of KNOWING Christ. It has a comparative value. Notice what one like Paul will forfeit to know Christ. I’m quoting only part of the long sentence, but it conveys what I want you to see:
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ . . .” Philippians 3:7-8 ESV
To Paul, this word, KNOWING, speaks of something very lofty and compelling which had a beginning and about which he has ongoing consuming interest not to be set aside throughout all of his earthly life and eons of time beyond. He calls it “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
Surpassing what? The answer: “whatever gain I had.” He had lots to boast about in terms of gain. He meant that he had status, reputation, accumulated superior knowledge among his peers, leadership . . . all of which he “counted as loss for the sake of Christ.” It was a wasted status, unfounded reputation, wrongheaded knowledge, and a leadership into a black hole of misunderstood data and religious practice. But it was potent to him. And he gave it up. He experienced the loss of everything in the world of his own comprehension (he counted them as “rubbish”) and among his once esteemed peers (“I have suffered the loss of all things”).
All this happened in a moment of time, with a vision of Christ, on the road to Damascus.
Be shocked by this. He didn’t know Christ; he hated all he knew about Christ. And driven by that perspective, he was pursuing in anger those who did know Christ on his way to the Syrian city of Damascus north of Israel. But, in a very short time, he gave up everything he had gained in the Jewish world for the Christ he sought to destroy.