In the first recorded account of the events leading to Saul’s conversion, the text of Acts 9:5b-6a reads in the NKJV: “‘It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ So he, trembling and astonished, said, ‘Lord, what do You want me to do?’ Then the Lord said to him…” (also KJV, MEV, JUB, YLT).
In almost all other English versions these words are omitted in this section of Acts. However, the textual variation does not challenge the historicity of the statements, seeing that Saul’s conversion story is also recounted in chaps. 22 and 26 where the disputed words are included in all versions (22:10a; 26:14b).
The only question is whether Luke recorded the statements once or twice. When all the information is gathered and harmonized from the three accounts, nothing is lost or gained either way. The full story of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (a.k.a. the apostle Paul) has been faithfully preserved in Acts 9, 22, and 26. When Saul learned the gospel through Ananias’ teaching, as a penitent baptized believer his sins were washed away (Acts 9:6-18; 22:10-16) by the grace and mercy of God (Eph. 3:7-8; 1 Tim. 1:15-16).
--Kevin L. Moore
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