Accounts of St Paul's Conversion

edited December 1969 in Faith Issues

Acts has several accounts on the story of St Paul's conversion.There seem to be some differences between the accounts, as to whether his mates heard the voice of Jesus.

In the first account, his friends hear the voice but see no one:

"As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.  Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he 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.” So he, 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.” [i]And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice  but seeing no one.[Acts 9:3-8]"  [/i]

In the second account, his friends see the light but  hear no voice:

“Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me.  And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’  So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’
“[i]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
. 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.’  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 [Acts 22:6-11 "][/i]

Any errors?


  • HH explained this in one of this books, I'm trying to get you the passage, but if you want to look it up yourself I believe it was the book regarding criticism of Orthodoxy [i cant however remember the title] i'll post it up asap
  • i understand it like this: they saw only light, not God Himself.
    the men were shocked because they did not see anyONE, they expect sound to come from people, not from lights! in the NIV translation, it says in chapter 22 they did not 'understand' the voice, so they perhaps heard a noise but it was not clear to them what/ who it was.
    i just found a cool website where you can look up passages in NKJV
    without registering, for free, however it seems to be the version you used.

    i hope some better-qualified people will comment, but i take it to mean, saint paul's companions heard a loud scary noise and saw bright light, and saint paul heard clearly the voice of God and realised He was in the light.
  • Here is the answer of HH Pope Shenouda concerning this matter, it's taken from the book "So many years with the problems of people" ( :

    There are two accounts in the Book of the Acts of the
    Apostles about the appearance of the Lord to Saul. It
    seems that there are some contradictions between both
    accounts, in what they saw or heard, please explain.

    The account of the appearance of the Lord to Saul recorded
    in the ninth chapter, verse 7 states "And the men who
    journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but
    seeing no one. " The same incident also described in the
    twenty second chapter, verse 9 states "Now 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. "
    The key to this problem, is that the men who
    accompanied St. Paul were not on the same spiritual
    level to see what he saw and to hear what he heard.
    This vision was not for them, the apparition of the Lord was
    not for them and the conversation of the Lord was not with
    them, but that all was only for Saul of Tarsus.
    Nevertheless, there is no contradiction between the two
    accounts as far as what the men heard or saw as we closely
    examine both stories, we realise that the men who
    accompanied Saul, heard his voice talking to the Lord,
    but they did not hear the voice of the Lord when He
    talked to Saul.
    So if we read the two statements carefully, we realise what
    proves that, without any contradiction:
    1. Hearing a voice but seeing no one.
    2. They saw the light but they did not hear the voice of Him
    who spoke to Paul.
    The voice that is mentioned in the first statement, is the
    voice of Saul. They heard him talking without seeing with
    whom he talked. The voice that they couldn't hear is that of
    the one talking to Saul. Then there is no contradiction as
    far as the voice is concerned.
    It could have been contradicting, if it had been said in the
    first statement "They heard the voice of he who spoke to
    me" or "heard what I heard", but the word (voice) only
    meant here the voice of Saul for the spiritual level of those
    men is to hear the voice of a man but not the voice of the
    The same applies to the vision also: They saw the light, but
    they did not see the person who was talking to Saul. This
    is clear from the way the two statements were put:
    1. seeing no one (Acts 9:7).
    2. Saw the light and were afraid (Acts 22:9).
    The light is one thing but the face and shape of the person
    that was talking is another.

    Hope it helps

  • merci, peter  :)
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