Saul's Damascus Road Experience
An Interweave Analysis of Acts 9.3-9 & 22.6-11
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This study of parallel passages in Acts 9 and Acts 22 (Damascus Road experience of Saul of Tarsus) is in Two Parts as follows:

  • Part 1 - Biblebell's interweave analysis of the two passages.
  • Part 2 - A visitor's analysis of the Greek verb for "hear," as used in Acts 9.7 & 22.9.

Part 1
Introduction

The Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, was a persistent enemy and persecutor of the Christian church in the early days, after it was founded in Jerusalem by the Holy Spirit.

  • At one point in time, Saul was traveling to Damascus, so as to disrupt or destroy the Christian church that had been established in that city.
  • On the road to Damascus, the risen Lord Jesus Christ came down to earth from His throne in Heaven, and confronted Saul.
  • This experience led to Saul's belief in Jesus as his Lord and Messiah.
  • From that time forward, Saul (whose Greek name is Paul) was one of the Christian Church's greatest apostles.

The account of Saul's Damascus road experience is given in two separate passages in the Book of Acts -- Acts 9.3-9 and Acts 22.6-11.

  • Some folks think there is a conflict between these two accounts. Such is not the case, of course.
  • Instead, what we have is a third person account (Acts 9), followed later by Saul's first person account (Acts 22) told in his own words.

The following is an interweave of the two accounts, so that you can witness their consistency and cohesiveness for yourself.

The portions from Acts 9 are this color.
The portions from Acts 22 are this color.

Interweave

9.3 As he (Saul) journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.
22.6 (S
aul said...) "Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me."

9.4 Then he (S
aul) fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"
22.7 (S
aul said...) "And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?' "

9.5 And he (Saul) said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads."
22.8 (S
aul said...) "So I answered, 'Who are You, Lord?' And He said to me, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.' "

22.9 (Saul said...) "And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me."

9.6 So he (Saul), trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."
22.10 (
Saul said...) "So I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.' "

9.7 And the men who journeyed with him (Saul) stood speechless, hearing a voice (the men heard a voice, but may not actually have discerned the words spoken by Jesus in verse 6) but seeing no one.

9.8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.
22.11 (S
aul said...) "And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus."

Based on the above interweave, we can omit overlapping passages so as to POSTULATE a harmonious account of Paul's Damascus Road experience as follows...

Harmonization

(Saul said...) Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"

And I said, "Who are You, Lord?"

Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads."

Those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me.

So I said, "What shall I do, Lord?" And the Lord said to me, "Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do."

The men who journeyed with me stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Then I arose from the ground, and when my eyes were opened I saw no one.

And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus.

Part 2
A Visitor's Comments

A visitor sent Biblebell a message with an alternative explanation of the apparent conflict between Acts 9.7 and Acts 22.9. In the two panels below, we have...

Panel #1 - The two verses are quoted, with transliterated Greek shown between brackets <like this>.

Panel #2 - The visitor's comments on these two verses
Panel #1 - Acts 9.7 & 22.9

And <de> the men <aner> which <ho> journeyed <sunodeuo> with him <autos> stood <histemi> speechless <enneos>,
hearing <akouo> <men> a voice <phone>, but <de> seeing <theoreo> no man <medeis>. Acts 9.7

And <de> they that were <on> with <sun> me <emoi> saw <theaomai> indeed <men> the light <phos>, and <kai> were <ginomai> afraid <emphobos>; but <de>
they heard <akouo> not <ou> the voice <phone> of him that spake <laleo> to me <moi>. Acts 22.9
Panel #2 - Visitor's Comments, February 2002

In the Greek some verbs take their object in other than the accusative case.

AKOUO ("to hear") in these two passages can take its object in the accusative & in the genitive cases.

Usually
AKOUO with the genitive case (as in Acts 9.7) means to hear without understanding. It's not saying that anything intelligible was said, just that some sound/utterance was heard.

However,
AKOUO with the accusative case (as in Acts 22.9) means to hear with understanding -- to hear intelligible sounds.

Hence most likely what Luke is saying in Acts 9.7 is that Saul's companions heard the sound, while in Acts 22.9 Saul is saying that his companions didn't understand what was said.

Obviously, it doesn't make sense that Luke would write something in Acts 22.9 that contradicted what he'd just said earlier in his letter. The distinctions listed above regarding
AKOUO & how it takes its objects are not 100% consistent, but it makes sense in this case.

If Saul's companions heard a sound that was unintelligible, then it makes sense to use
AKOUO with the genitive so as to communicate that a sound was heard, though not understood.

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