PAUL: The Leading Choleric
The apostle Paul was once known as Saul.
We read about Saul’s miraculous conversion experience.
Saul the Convert
“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.” (Acts 9:1-2)
“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. ‘Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’” (Acts 9:1-6)
Saul Is Blinded
The rest of Acts 9 tells us that Saul lost his sight during this miraculous experience. Then God appeared to a Christian named Ananias who was to meet Saul, to pray over him and restore his sight.
“But the Lord said to Ananias, ‘Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.’” (Acts 9:15-16)
“Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.” (Acts 9:17-19)
Is this not an incredible story?
But perhaps you’re wondering about one more component; Saul’s name change?
Saul’s Name Change
Well, I’m sorry to say that compared to Saul’s conversion, his name change is kind of anticlimactic.
Though we won’t unpack the events in Acts 13, this chapter does give us some sign as to when Saul’s name change takes place.
- Half way through verse 2, we still read the name Saul: “…the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” (13:2)
- Further down in verse 9, the name Paul is introduced with the name Saul: “Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit…” (13:9)
- We read the name Paul mentioned alone in verse 13. “From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga…” (13:13)
From that point on, we read the name Paul.
If you Google this name change, there’s lots of scholarly debate over this name change.
Some believe it happened at Paul’s conversion, but it just wasn’t mentioned until Acts 13. Others believe he carried both names before his conversion. And others still, believe he carried both names after his conversion.
Paul Called Himself Paul
And for us, during the rest of this week-long study of Paul, we will as Scripture indicates, refer to him as Paul.
Can I get your feedback?
Why do you think God used such a miraculous experience in Paul’s conversation? What made him different? Why choose him?