Did the men with Paul hear a voice or not?

  1. Yes
    1. Acts 9:7 “And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man (KJV).”
  2. No
    1. Acts 22:9 “And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard [akouo] not the voice of him that spake to me (KJV).”

How can one reconcile the different claims made by Acts 9:7 and 22:9?  Did the men with Paul hear a voice or did they not hear a voice?

The alleged contradiction is not seen in most modern Bible translations, but the King James Version (KJV) illuminates the problem as seen above.

The solution to this apparent contradiction is found by understanding the Greek in the above two passages. The Greek word ἀκούω (akouo) is translated “hear” in the KJV in both of the cited verses.  However, other versions, such as the New American Standard Bible, translate the word “understand” in Acts 22:9: “And those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me.”

This divergent translation is not arbitrary.  The word in question, ἀκούω (akouo), does not carry the narrow meaning assigned to the English word “hear.”  In many cases, such as Acts 2:22 and 7:2, akouo means “listen” or “take heed.”  Furthermore, even the ultra-literal KJV translates the same Greek word akouo as "understand” in 1 Corinthians 14:2.  The men with Paul heard the sound, but they neither understood what they were hearing, nor did they take heed to it.  Therefore, there is no contradiction in the above two passages.