THE CONVERSION OF SAUL
Another “contradiction” of which a great deal is made is that which seems to exist between two different accounts of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. We are told in Acts 9:7 that those who journeyed with Saul to Damascus heard the voice that spoke to Saul, but saw no man. On the other hand Paul, in relating to the Jews in Jerusalem the story of his conversion, says, “They that were with me beheld indeed the light, but they heard not the voice of him that spoke to me” (Acts 22:9, RV).
Now these two statements seem to flatly contradict one another. Luke, in recounting the conversion, says that the men that journeyed with Paul heard the voice; but Paul himself in recounting his conversion says that they did not hear the voice. Could there possibly be a flatter contradiction than this?
But this apparent contradiction disappears when we look at the Greek of the two passages. The Greek word translated “heard” governs two cases, the genitive and the accusative. When the voice of a person or thing which is heard is spoken of, it is followed by the genitive. When the message that is heard is spoken of it is followed by the accusative.
In Acts 9:7 the genitive is used. They did hear the voice, the sound. In Acts 22:9 the words translated “the voice” are in the accusative. They did not hear the message of the One that spoke. The word rendered “voice” also has two meanings: first, “a sound, a tone,” and second, “a voice,” that is, “a sound of uttered words” (Thayer’sGreek-English Lexicon of the New Testament). The voice as a mere sound they heard; they did not hear the voice as the sound of uttered words; they did not hear the message.
So another seeming difficulty entirely disappears when we look exactly at what the Bible in the original says. Instead of having an objection to the Bible we have another illustration of its absolute accuracy, not only down to a word but down to a single letter that ends a word and by which a case in indicated.