Acts 9:7 states, “And the men which journeyed with him [Paul] stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.” Acts 22:9 reads, “And they that were with me [Paul] saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of Him [Christ] that spoke to me.” At first glance, there seems to be a contradiction in these scriptures. In Acts 9:7, the people traveling with Paul heard a voice, but in 22:9, it reads that they did not.
In the Greek language (in which the entire New Testament was originally written), the word “akouo” is used in both of these accounts. Like many other words, this word has different meanings that vary depending on the context in which it is used. It can mean to both understand and to hear.
This same word is used in I Corinthians 14:2, which clearly shows the intended meaning: “For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God: for no man understands [Greek: akouo] him; howbeit in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” Although they heard a voice, they did not understand.
This is what happened to Paul and those with him while traveling to Damascus. While the men with him heard Christ’s voice—they did not understand what was said. However, Paul both heard and understood!
While it may seem to be a contradiction, God’s Word does not contradict itself (John 10:35). In fact, the only problem with these scriptures is one of translation. Acts 22:9 should read, “And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they understood not the voice of Him that spoke to me.”
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