Damascus Road: Part C

So far, we've considered Jesus' warnings,[1] and we looked at some inconsistencies in the timelines given by Luke and Paul.[2] Now we're prepared to look at Paul’s alleged encounter. The testimony is reported three times in Acts. You're going to notice that all three versions contradict. You'll be given the text and then a charted summary. 

Version 1 - Acts 9:4, 5, 7, 9

  • And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
  • 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.
  • And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
  • And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

Version 2 - Acts 22:7-9, 11

  • And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? …
  • 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.
  • 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.

Version 3 - Acts 26:13-16

  • … 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 persecutest thou me? 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 which thou hast seen,…

Charted Summary

The importance of charting the testimony to comprehend the details is so we can understand an often forgotten, but very important, crucial point: there are no witnesses. Luke is faithful in giving us each of Paul's accounts, but Luke himself wasn't on that road. Even more curious is there is no witness from among Paul's companions. Lest we consider Ananias a witness, we should consider whether or not he was there to see this light or hear the voice. Then, according to Paul's own accounts, we must wonder if anyone did see or hear--in other words, which version do we take? Can we even believe Ananias' vision? Who are the witnesses there? Whoever appeared to Paul might've appeared also to Ananias, but my conclusion is that it wasn't the true Jesus.

The last thing to consider with regards to the Damascus Road and the timeline issues, is another secondary encounter that Paul calls a "trance" recounted in Acts 22:17-21. 

17  And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance:18  And saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.19  And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: 20  And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him.21  And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.[3]

The problem is that in Acts 9:26-28, Paul is accepted in Jerusalem because of Barnabus. Was Jesus mistaken? Is Paul telling the truth? I'll leave it up to you to decide where this actually occurs in Paul's timeline given in Galatians, but one thing is for certain: there are more questions than answers when we consider the finer details. 


[1] Damascus Road: Part A

[2] Damascus Road: Part B

[3] KJV


This is an on going study and is subject to revisions.