Seen And Not Heard?

Acts 9:7-8 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. Acts 22:9 And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. Have you ever read these passages and thought, "Why does Paul say in one place that the men heard a voice but saw no one, and then in the next, he turned around and said that they saw a light but did not hear a voice?" Well, there is really a very simple reconciliation for these two passages: The men with Paul saw a light but did not see Jesus, "the one who spoke" with him. That the men did see the light is rather obvious, because Paul says in Acts 23:13, "At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me." In this passage, Paul also mentions that the all of the men fell to the ground, whereas Acts 9 and 22 only mention that he himself fell to the ground. So how does this go together? It's pretty simple: all of the men fell to the ground, "for they were struck down to the earth with the splendour of the light..." (Adam Clark's Commentary, Acts 9:7). This sounds a bit similar to what happened to the soldiers guarding Jesus' tomb: "And the guards shook for fear of him [the angel] and became like dead men," and later they were able to still accurately report to the Chief Priests exactly what had happened; in other words, they probably did see what was happening, though they were in their "dead" state. In Paul's case, though the men were not "like dead men," they were obviously shocked and could not go on or even flee if they wanted to; therefore, Paul says, "The men who were with me stood speechless."
The men with Paul also heard something. What did they hear? Did they hear the voice or did they not? They did not hear the words that were spoken to Paul. All they knew was that there was a light and a sound, but they saw no one and did not hear the distinct words that were spoken. This makes perfect sense when you consider John 12:28-29 : "'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.'" Adam Clark believes that there may have indeed been thunder. In his commentary, he states, "They had heard the thunder which followed the escape of the lightning, but they heard not the voice of him that spake to Saul; they did not hear the words, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest [...]; but they saw and heard enough to convince them that the whole was supernatural; for they were all struck down to the earth with the splendour of the light, and the sound of the thunder, which I suppose took place on this occasion." Clark also goes on to say that some have questioned whether Jesus really did appear to Paul in the first place. He says, "St. Luke tells us that those who were with him heard the voice, but they saw no man; which is a strong intimation that he [Paul] saw what they did not. Ananias, it seems, was informed that there had been a real appearance, for, in addressing Saul, Ac 9:17, he says, The Lord Jesus that APPEARED unto THEE in the way as thou camest [...] And Barnabas intimates thus much, when he brought him before the apostles at Jerusalem, for he declared unto them how he had SEEN the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken unto him; and, Ac 22:14, where the discourse of Ananias is given more at large, he says, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee that thou shouldest know his will, and SEE that JUST ONE, and shouldest HEAR the voice of his mouth... But St. Paul's own words, 1Co 9:1, put the subject out of dispute: Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? HAVE I NOT SEEN JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD? To which may be added, 1Co 15:8, And last of all, HE WAS SEEN OF ME ALSO, as of one born out of due time" (Adam Clark's Commentary, Acts 9:7, emphasis his). But some would still argue that Paul cannot be trusted because he was the only witness to his claim. If we consider the above, we know that this is not true, because the men with Paul saw and heard SOMETHING. But why should we trust Paul? Consider the fact that the writer of Acts records Paul's persecution of the Christians; if Paul were a "normal" human being, he would have requested that his wrongs not be recorded, as would any human being. However, we see that in this case, as well as in the case of the apostles, all of their faults are written. They weren't seeking to make themselves look good; they were recording everything -- the good AND the bad. And the writer of Acts must have known Paul personally, or he would not have bothered to tell of Paul's blasphemy and conversion -- who would talk of such a thing without first finding out if it were true or not? Also, everyone who knew Paul before his conversion saw the change in him after it, so the evidence didn't rest soley on Paul's claim; it also rested on the change in him that people could see and testify to -- something must have happened to cause this drastic change in him, and I believe that it was the risen Jesus.


  1. Very informative, Miss Szymanski! Guess that debunks the "halucination" theory. God is so much smarter than we give Him credit for sometimes; He thinks of everything ahead of time!


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