Paul describes a visit to Jerusalem in Gal 2:1-10. To what Jerusalem visit in Acts (9:26-30, 11:25-30, 15:1-29, 18:22, 21:15-23:31) does Gal 2 correspond. Please explain the rationale for the response and could there be case for the other options?
In the Acts of the Apostles we find five visits of Paul to Jerusalem. Are those accounts chronological? Moreover the letter to the Galatians recounts two visits. How many visits did Paul pay to Jerusalem? How can the accounts found in Galatians and that of Acts be reconciled? Is there any counterbalance in those views?
There are some preliminary points to be noted before diving into the main answer.
1. Pauline letters are occasional documents written for particular purposes, therefore they are not written for autobiographical needs and historical purposes. They address events of Paul's life that are related to the topics the apostle treats. Nevertheless, the news we have in the letters are to be given priorities due to the fact that they are reported by Paul himself.
2. Acts of the Apostles offer us thematic developments of some events. Luke intends to portray the spreading of Christianity and the mission of the Church.
3. Though we will give precedence to the letter to Galatians, the news we have there will be integrated with the ones we find in the book of Acts.
Given the above premises, we will take a closer look at the Jerusalem visits of Paul.
The book of Acts enumerates five visits (9:26-30 = post conversion visit; 11:30/12:25 = famine relief visit; 15:1-29 = council meeting visit; 18:22 [It speaks explicitly about Caesarea]; 21:17 = arrest visit) while the letter to the Galatians mentions two visits explicitly (1:18-24; 2:1), while assuming three implicitly (2:10). There are similarities and differences ...
Pauline letters are written for particular purposes depending on the occasions that arise. As such they are not autobiographies. Acts of the Apostles, on the other ground, is written following the history of how the Church spread and developed after the ascension of Jesus. So when we want to reconstruct the chronology of Paul's visits to Jerusalem, found in the letter to the Galatians and in the Acts of the Apostles, we have to give a special place to the letter, being that written by Paul himself.
The book of Acts of the Apostles enumerates five visits while Galatians talk about two visits. There are diverse opinions among the scholars and different ways of viewing the accounts of Paul's visits. This solution wants to deal with the number of visits that Paul paid to Jerusalem and how the ideas of Acts and Galatians could be understood. Preliminary notions on both sources are necessary.