Friday, May 27, 2011

The Apostle Paul Never Converted to Christianity

The Apostle Paul never converted to Christianity, and he did not change his name from Saul to Paul upon his supposed Damascus Road conversion.

Before you scream "Blasphemy!" read what the scriptures say.

Saul's name (Sha'uwl in Hebrew) was not changed to Paul (Paulos or Paulus in Greek) upon his Damascus Road experience of the risen Christ in Acts 9. In chapters 9, 10, 11, 12, and part of 13, Saul's name is still Saul, even though he is now a changed man and an Apostle of Jesus. So when and why did he change Saul to Paul?

In Acts 13:9 for the first time he's using the Greek name Paulus rather than the Hebrew name Sha'uwl. Why? Look at the context.

He's on the first stop of his first missionary journey to speak to Greek-speaking gentiles. He's on the island of Cyprus. He preached to the Jews there first and no doubt introduced himself by his Hebrew name Saul. (Acts 13:5). But then he goes to see the proconsul of the island, a Greek-speaking Roman official named---get this now---Sergius Paulus. This man would have been unfamiliar both with Saul's Hebrew language and Hebrew name.

After his meeting with Sergius Paulus, probably noticing close similarity between the names Saul and Paul, Saul begins going by the Greek nickname Paulus when speaking with Greek-speakers throughout the Roman world he has now entered. He may have gotten the idea to change his name to Paulus from his first encounter with a Roman ruler who bore that very name.Pardon me for a bit of speculation: Paulus means "small or little." If Paul were a man small of stature, as is often assumed about him, it might have made his new "nickname" both appropriate and easy to remember.

Paul never converted to Christianity. It's a biblical fact. "I am a Jew," the Apostle Paul insisted in Acts 21:39 and again in Acts 22:3. "I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees," he said in Acts 23:6. Look at these two quotes:

Romans 11:1 I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.

2 Corinthians 11:22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.

And again Paul writes of himself:

YLT Philippians 3:5 circumcision on the eighth day! of the race of Israel! of the tribe of Benjamin! a Hebrew of Hebrews! according to law a Pharisee!

Paul never renounced his Hebrew heritage, his Jewish faith, or his credentials as a Pharisee. He was a Hebrew Pharisee practicing Judaism to his death. One thing, however, made him an unusual Jew at the time. He was a Hebrew Pharisee practicing Judaism who believed that Jesus, a rabbi from Nazareth, was the fulfillment of Hebrew prophesies and the promised Messiah of God.

Paul was not a Jew who converted to Christianity. He was a Jewish Christian.

For more on the Apostle Paul see my blogs Paul Didn't Go To HeavenPorneia, and The Soul Doesn't Leave the Body at Death.

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