Saul’s ‘Conversion’

I don’t like the word conversion, but I use it because so many use this word when one comes to faith in Yeshua (‘Jesus’). Saul already feared Yehovah, and he believed in Him, having the greatest fervency for the Torah (which he never lost). He did not have a covering for sin, however, and he and his friends were ‘hit men’ on assignment to find, arrest, try, then slaughter all Jewish folks who demonstrated faith in Yeshua.

The Importance of Comparing Texts

Why Did He Write It Like That?

This question was raised in a Bible study considering Saul’s road experience and Messiah’s appearance.

Two of the following texts seem to directly conflict:

Acts 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8And 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 22:6 And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. 7And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 8And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. 9And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. 10And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. 11And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.

 

Acts 26:13 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. 14And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 15And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. 16But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; 17Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

 

The ‘conflicting’ texts are:

 

Acts 9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

 

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.

 

Some Bible footnotes try to circumvent the conflict by claiming that the same Greek word means two different things. In one case, according to a footnote, they heard a sound of a voice, but couldn’t understand it, making it not the same as hearing a voice. This is not what happened.

 

In order to solve this, I sewed the Acts 9 and Acts 22 texts together by making pertinent verses parallel. This could not be done in two significant places.

 

Acts 9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: Acts 22:6 And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.
Acts 9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? Acts 22:7 And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
Acts 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. Acts 22:8 And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.
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.
Acts 9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. Acts 22:10 And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.
Acts 9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
Acts 9:8 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 22:11 And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.

 

 

  • The men accompanying Saul did not hear the voice of Yeshua during the first part of Yeshua’s communication.
  • They did not hear, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”but they did see Saul fall to the ground.
  • They heard Saul reply, Who art thou, Lord?” but they didn’t hear Yeshua respond, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”
  • They heard Yeshua’s next communications:Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.”

 

The men accompanying Saul did not know the voice’s source. It was a good thing. They were with Saul on a journey to find and kill Jewish believers in Yeshua. Had they heard a voice saying that he was Yeshua without seeing Him, they may have assumed that it was a demon trying to convince Saul to become a believer in Yeshua, and/or they may have felt compelled to take action against Saul because of Saul’s yielding. On the other hand, if the men had heard no voice at all, but had witnessed Saul’s sudden fall to the ground, going blind and behaving differently, they may have assumed that he had suffered a stroke or a demonic attack! Messiah worked all together for good so that the men cooperated with the commands of Messiah without knowing their source.

 

Yehovah similarly writes prophecy so that careful readers will compare texts to obtain proper and complete pictures. Either version of the above events on its own would have given the reader a view that makes sense and a wrong conclusion. Most Bible readers err by not carefully comparing texts.

 

Yehovah did not design the Bible to be read with lightness and flippancy, but carefully with thought. The Bible fools folks who wrongly handle it. This shows Yehovah’s Wisdom of design.

 

The following consists of all three texts referring to Yeshua’s confronting Saul. You will see much repetition since I have not cut the texts:

 

Acts 9:1, 22:6, 26:12: And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the High Priest, 2and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues so that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus. “Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13at midday, King, I saw in the way a light from heaven above the brightness of the sun shining round about me and them who journeyed with me. And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me.” And suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven. 4And he fell to the earth. 7 “And I fell unto the ground. 14And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.’” And he heard a voice saying unto him, “Saul, Saul, why pursue thou me?” “And I heard a voice saying unto me, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?’ 8And I answered, ‘Who art thou, Lord?’ 15And I said, ‘Who art thou, Lord?’” 5And he said, “Who art thou, Lord?” And the Lord said, “I am Yeshua whom thou pursuest. It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” “And He said unto me, ‘I am Yeshua of Nazareth Whom thou persecutest.’” And He said, “I am Yeshua whom thou pursuest. 16But rise, and stand upon thy feet! For I have appeared unto thee for this purpose: to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen and of those things in which I will appear unto thee, 17delivering thee from the people and from the Gentiles unto whom now I send thee 18to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God so that they will receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them who are sanctified by faith that is in me.” 9 “And they who were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid. But they heard not the voice of Him Who spoke to me.” 6And he trembling and astonished said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” 10 “And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’” And the Lord said unto him, “Arise and go into the city.” “And the Lord said unto me, ‘Arise, and go into Damascus. And it shall be told thee what thou must do. And there it shall be told thee of all things that are appointed for thee to do.’”  7And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8And Saul arose from the earth. And when his eyes were opened, he saw no man. 11 “And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them who were with me, I came into Damascus.” But they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 19 “Whereupon, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision, 20but showed first unto them of Damascus and at Jerusalem and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.”

 

The following is the same group of texts, but I have eliminated most repetition, sewing pieces together to make a coherent whole. I also changed persecute to chase, since this is what the word should be. (No one can persecute God; the Hebrew and Greek word rendered persecute means to chase, to pursue.)

 

Acts 9:1, 22:6, 26:12, cut and sewn together: And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the High Priest. And he desired letters from him to Damascus to the synagogues so that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus. “Whereupon as I went and made my journey to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, coming nigh at midday, King, about noon, suddenly in the way there shone a great light from the heavens round about me and them who journeyed with me above the brightness of the sun. And I fell unto the ground. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, ‘Saul, Saul, why chasest thou me?’ And I answered and said, ‘Who art thou, Lord?’ And the Lord said unto me, ‘I am Yeshua of Nazareth whom thou art chasing! It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. But rise, and stand upon thy feet! For I have appeared unto thee for this purpose: to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things that thou hast seen and of those things in which I will appear unto thee, delivering thee from the people and from the Gentiles unto whom now I send thee to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God so that they will receive forgiveness of sins and inheritance among them who are sanctified by faith that is in me.’ And they who were with me indeed saw the light, and were afraid. But they didn’t hear the voice of Him Who spoke to me. And I, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said unto me, ‘Arise and go into the city, into Damascus. And there it shall be told thee what thou must do–of all things that are appointed for thee to do.’” And the men who 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. “And when I could not see for the glory of that light, I was brought, being led by the hand of them who were with me. And I came into Damascus. Whereupon, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision, but showed first unto them of Damascus and at Jerusalem and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works appropriate for repentance.”

 

Saul was chasing Yeshua by chasing those associated with Him. Yeshua finally remained in one place so that Saul caught up to Him, and He appeared to him. He then gave him a set of assignments before Saul even believed in Him.

 

The blindness brought a separation from the other men who went on their way to find, arrest and kill more followers of the Way (of Yeshua), and it also gave Saul the opportunity to consider all things pertaining to Yeshua. He believed several days later.

 

All supposed conflicts are gone when pertinent texts are sewn together.

 

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