February 24, 2002 / Volume 2, Issue 8
THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Did those who with Saul at his conversion hear a voice? Do Acts 9:7 and Acts 22:9 contradict?
Let me first address the questioner's misrepresentation of when Saul was converted to Christ. It is commonly taught in the religious world that he was saved on the road to Damascus. Note a few things with me:
The Lord told Paul to go to the city, where he would be told what he must do (Acts 9:6)
Paul was in a miserable state for three days in Damascus (Acts 9:9)
Paul had not yet received the Holy Spirit until after Ananias came (Acts 9:17)
Paul was not saved until after he was baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 22:16)
Now, to the matter of whether or not Paul's companions heard a voice. As Luke writes of the event, he acknowledges that they heard a voice (Acts 9), but as Paul summarized the event, he indicates that they did not hear the voice (Acts 22). I would suggest that the men heard the noise of the voice, but did not hear the words which were spoken. A similar situation is found in John 12:28-29, where Jesus said, "'Father, glorify your name.' Then a voice came from heaven, saying, 'I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.' Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, 'An angel has spoken to Him.'" The people heard the voice of the Lord, but they did not hear the words that were spoken. Likewise, Paul's companions heard the voice, but they did not hear what the voice said.
There is no contradiction.
This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible