Saint Paul - Names

Names

Although it has been popularly assumed that his name was changed when he converted from Judaism to Christianity, which happened during his encounter with Christ on the Road to Damascus, that is not the case. His Jewish name was "Saul" (Hebrew: שָׁאוּל, Sha'ul Šāʼûl ; "asked for, prayed for, borrowed"), perhaps after the biblical King Saul, a fellow Benjamite and the first king of Israel. The testimony of the book of Acts is that he inherited Roman citizenship from his father. As a Roman citizen he also bore the Latin name of "Paul"—in biblical Greek: Σαούλ (Saul), Σαῦλος (Saulos), and Παῦλος (Paulos), and in Latin: Saul, Saulus and Paulus. It was quite usual for the Jews of that time to have two names, one Hebrew, the other Latin or Greek.

In the book of Acts, when he had the vision that led to his conversion on the Road to Damascus, Jesus called him "Saul, Saul", in the Hebrew tongue, Aramaic. Later, in a vision to Ananias of Damascus, "the Lord" referred to him as "Saul, of Tarsus". When Ananias came to restore his sight, he called him "Brother Saul".

In Acts 13:9, Saul is called Paul for the first time on the island of Cyprus — much later than the time of his conversion. The author (Luke) indicates the names were interchangeable: "...Saul, who also is called Paul...". He thereafter refers to him as Paul, apparently Paul's preference since he is called Paul in all other Bible books where he is mentioned, including those he authored. Adopting his Roman name was typical of Paul's missionary style. His method was to put people at their ease and to approach them with his message in a language and style they could relate to.

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Famous quotes containing the word names:

    Shut out that stealing moon,
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    Before our lutes were strewn
    With years-deep dust, and names we read
    On a white stone were hewn.
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    It was a poetic recreation to watch those distant sails steering for half-fabulous ports, whose very names are a mysterious music to our ears.... It is remarkable that men do not sail the sea with more expectation. Nothing was ever accomplished in a prosaic mood.
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    Holding myself the humblest of all whose names were before the convention, I feel in especial need of the assistance of all.
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