“But Saul, who was also called Paul,” (Acts 13:9). “Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia.” (Acts 13:13).
Today’s two highlighted biblical texts display the beginnings of a transition in the life and ministry of Saul of Tarsus. The transitions are not only personal but also ministerial.
To begin with, Luke introduces us to Saul’s other given name: Paul. It is the first time the name Paul is mentioned. Saul’s Roman name, Paul, is used from here on. His Jewish name, Saul, only occurred when Paul gave his personal testimonies and referred to his former life (Acts 22:7; 26:14).
One commentator writes, “Roman citizens had three names. As a citizen, Saul had a Roman name (“Paul,” meaning “small”); his other Roman names remain unknown to us. As inscriptions show, this was common. Paul’s Roman name sounded similar to his Jewish name (Saul, from the name of the Old Testament’s most famous Benjamite). This is not a name change; now that Paul is moving in a predominantly Roman environment, he begins to go by his Roman name, and some of Luke’s readers recognize for the first time that Luke is writing about someone of whom they had already heard.”
The other transition is that Paul begins to take the leadership role on the missionary team, instead of Barnabas. Paul stepped to the forefront and assumed leadership. He was more aggressive and also knew Gentile thinking, better than Barnabas. From this point on Paul was the leader and his name preceded Barnabas’ name except when they were in Jerusalem (Acts 14:14; 15:12, 25).
Change happens. Many do not like change or transitions. However, as today’s texts reveal, change can be positive. What changes has God made in your own life? What changes need to be made?
Soli deo Gloria!