I’d like to briefly weave together three verses from the book of Acts to point out something quite profound. First:
And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.
When we read the story of how Saul the Persecutor became the Apostle Paul this verse might seem as merely descriptive. Sure, it is an interesting thought of Saul’s entourage––of likely soldiers, thugs, ruffians, cohort, and the like––hearing a voice from heaven, but not beholding a person. But, we should note that there must be sufficient witnesses to an event to corroborate it according to Jewish law. Fast forward many years and we find Paul making this defense of himself as to why the Jews want his head:
Except it be for this one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection of the dead I am called in question by you this day.
Paul made it clear in this legal proceeding that the main point of contention was that Paul was teaching that there would be a resurrection of the dead. That was the vital component of his message, “If Christ be not raised … (1 Cor. 15:17).” The proof that mankind––both Jew and Greek––could be reunited with God was that Jesus had risen from the dead. This was what Paul was a witness to. So, a few chapters later, when he is once more giving his legal testimony (and these are hearings leading up to a “Supreme-Court like” hearing in Rome) he includes this interesting statement:
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.
The cohorts who were with Paul on the Road to Damascus heard a voice in the Hebrew tongue. This was no delusion of some solitary man out in the wilderness. Paul here is making a case, in a court of law, that he has witnesses who could provide testimony that a resurrected Jesus spoke to him in the language of the Jews. We must not overlook the fact that the resurrection is the crux of Paul’s message of new birth––in Christ––for mankind. The whole world is made new, and there were plenty of witnesses around to validate this turning of redemptive tides.