It is significant that Jesus was seen of Paul last of all. Unlike the twelve who had promised positions in the coming kingdom Paul, known then as Saul, was a blasphemer and chief persecutor of the followers of Christ.
John 1:11 says that Jesus came to his own, but his own did not receive him. Israel rejected their Messiah. Instead a faithful remnant, a little flock, believed that he was the Son of God.
Jesus taught that the kingdom would not be given to all of Israel, but only the faithful few.
“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. ” – Luke 12:32
Paul would later explain that the future reestablishment of the kingdom to the faithful remnant of Israel was according to the prophets (Rom 9:6).
Yet Saul was not numbered among this faithful remnant which was called a ‘sect of the Nazarenes’. He would not be following them into the promised kingdom.
After his resurrection Jesus appeared to his faithful, beginning with his apostles.
“He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once;” – 1 Corinthians 15:6-7
He was their Messiah and the promises were to be fulfilled in them. Yet, Saul was a not among this little flock at Pentecost who were witnesses of his resurrection. Instead when Stephen declared Christ the Messiah, Saul was ‘consenting unto his death’ (Acts 8:1).
Israel joined the Gentiles in their rejection of the God and his Messiah by persecuting and slaughtering those who named Christ’s name.
It was then that Jesus appeared to his enemies. On the road to Damascus the Lord saved and commissioned Saul to send the message of reconcilation to God’s enemies.
“And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. ” – 1 Corinthians 15:8
This message is not a about a kingdom and was not given to the faithful remnant. This message of grace is sent to sinners in need of a saviour.
When Jesus appeared at his birth it was to Israel, God’s chosen nation. When he appeared after his resurrection it was to the faithful remnant that would enter the kingdom. When he appeared to Paul he appeared to an enemy of God out of his grace.