From Saul to Paul

In 35AD, a young man looked after the clothes of men who stoned Stephen, a servant of God, to death. In the old city of Jerusalem, this young man named Saul was known to be a chief persecutor of the early Christians – threatening God’s disciples and capturing them for imprisonment and execution. Researchers suggest that he was brought up in Jerusalem by Anitipater II – his father, and Cypros, his mother (See Acts 7:58; 8:1-3). On his way to arrest Jewish followers of Jesus Christ in Damascus, a foreign city situated in the southwestern part of Syria, Saul Anitipater II was permanently arrested by Jesus Christ to become His prisoner.

The Bible is not explicit about Saul’s change of name to Paul – who changed his name and why Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, started referring to him as Paul. In Hebrew, Saul means ‘desired’ or ‘prayed for’ and Paul is a derivative of Paulus, a Latin name that means ‘small’ or ‘humble’. Therefore, there is no bad meaning attached to Saul. However, it is remarkable to note that no one ever called him Saint Saul or Saul the Apostle. He still bore Saul and Paul just as some people bear up to two or three names, but preferred to be called Paul to reflect his new nature and assignment – completely dedicated to preaching the best news of Jesus Christ. Paul has an identity that is significant unlike Saul that was known for persecution and destruction of God’s children. While it is evident that God changed the names of some Bible characters – Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, many people like Paul have chosen to stick to a particular name to reflect a change of identity, character and person.

From a ‘Sinful’ man to a ‘Perfect’ man: Paul accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and began to walk with God – representing the purposes of His Kingdom. A sinner is one who has not accepted Jesus Christ and has not become the righteousness of God. Sinners are far from God’s family (See John 1:12) and cannot inherit the blessings that comes with salvation. The Apostle Paul worked toward perfection and became a model for all children of God.

From a ‘Scorner’ of God’s interests to a ‘Promoter’ of God’s Kingdom: hitherto, Paul expressed contempt for the gospel of Jesus Christ and His ways but later became a strong promoter of the interest of God’s Kingdom. He preached Jesus Christ to the Gentiles across many cities and led many to Christ. With zest and passion, he travelled over 10,000 miles to countries in Asia and Europe to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Whatever name we choose to be identified with should reflect a transformed mind and person as well as godly character and nature. What do people know you for? When your name is mentioned, what resonates in the minds of people? Whatever name you bear, the ultimate thing is to have an identity in Christ. If you are yet to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, say this prayer of salvation: Lord Jesus, I accept that I am a sinner. Forgive me of my sins. Come into my heart. I receive You as my Lord and Savior and I receive Your eternal life. I believe that You came, died for me and rose again to save me. I declare that I am born again and I have a new identity. Amen!

By Sunday Omori

Published by Healing Evangelical Ministries Int'l

Raising an end-time army that preaches the gospel to the captives and healing all that are oppressed of the devil. (Luk 4:18; Act 10:38)

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