Saul on the Road to Damascus

Saint Paul on the road to Damascus, medal of Pope Paul VI, Year 10


Acts of the Apostles 9

Suddenly, while he was traveling to Damascus and just before he reached the city, there came a light from heaven all around him. He fell to the ground, and then he heard a voice saying, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" "Who are you, Lord?" he asked, and the voice answered, "I am Jesus, and you are persecuting me. Get up now and go into the city, and you will be told what you have to do." The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless, for though they had heard the voice they could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but even with his eyes wide open he could see nothing at all, and they had to lead him into Damascus by the hand. For three days he was without his sight, and took neither food nor drink.

Acts of the Apostles 22

"My brothers, my fathers, listen to what I have to say to you in my defense." When they realized he was speaking in Hebrew, the silence was even greater than before. "I am a Jew," Paul said, "and was born at Tarsus in Cilicia. I was brought up here in this city [Jersualem]. I studied under Gamaliel and was taught the exact observance of the Law of our ancestors. In fact, I was as full of duty toward God as you are today. I even persecuted this Way to the death, and sent women as well as men to prison in chains as the high priest and the whole councils of elders can testify, since they even sent me with letters to their brothers in Damascus. When I set off it was with the intention of bringing prisoners back from there to Jerusalem for punishment. I was on that journey and nearly at Damascus when about midday a bright light from heaven suddenly shone around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?' I answered, 'Who are you, Lord?' and he said to me, 'I am Jesus the Nazarene and you are persecuting me.' The people with me saw the light but did not hear his voice as he spoke to me. I said, 'What am I to do, Lord?' The Lord answered, 'Stand up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told what you have been appointed to do.' The light had been so dazzling that I was blind and my companions had to take me by the hand; and so I came to Damascus."

Acts of the Apostles 27. 12-18

"On one such expedition I was going to Damascus, armed with full powers and a commission from the chief priests, and at midday as I was on my way, Your Majesty, I saw a light brighter than the sun come down from heaven. It shone brilliantly around me and my fellow travelers. We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Hebrew, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you, kicking like this against the goad.' Then I said, 'Who are you, Lord?' And the Lord answered, "I am Jesus, and you are persecuting me. But get up and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this reason: to appoint you as my servant and as witness of this vision in which you have seen me, and of others in which I hsall appear to you. I shall deliver you from the people and from the pagans, to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light, from the dominion of Satan to God, and receive, trhough faith in me, forgiveness of their sins and a share in the inheritance of the Sanctified.' After that, King Agrippa, I could not disobey the heavenly vision. On the contrary, I started preaching first to the people of Damascus, then to those of Jerusalem and all the countryside of Judaea, and also to the pagans...."


From these texts, all derived from Paul, we might conclude:

-Paul saw something and heard something.
-His associates did not see the light, but heard the voice.
-His associates saw the light, but did not hear the voice.
-The effect was temporary blindness in Paul, but not in his associates.


January 26, 2010 8:40 AM

John Paul Adams, CSUN

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