Monday, February 27, 2017

No, "Saul the Persecutor" Did Not Become "Paul the Apostle"

A ‘sticky’ misconception I keep coming across both in the church world and in the seminary world is the notion that God (or, specifically, Jesus) changed the name of a certain figure of importance that we now typically refer to as “St. Paul.”

In a recent sermon, I heard, “Just like Saul the persecutor can become Paul the apostle, God is gracious to us....”

On an exam by one of my brightest students, I found written, “It is Saul, who is re-named as Paul, who is the primary messenger of the gospel....”

From a church member who came from a Roman Catholic background, I was asked, “Wait…you mean Jesus didn’t change Saul’s name to Paul on the Damascus Road?”*

The problem is that such a view, however common it may seem (just search for ‘Saul-Paul name change’ to find loads of posts on the apparent significance of this event), is not accurate. I hate to ruin the fun. Read More

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