It was a conversion away from his previous life as a zealous persecutor of Jesus' followers and it was a call to a new life advancing the cause of the new movement with even more vigour than he had shown before. Question: "When and why was Saul’s name changed to Paul?" God has acted decisively, once for all, by sending his beloved Son to his own people, Israel. To those outside the law I became like one outside the law. Paul's life was remarkable and there is little doubt that it changed the course of Christianity. Yet at heart, Revelation is a profoundly Christian book. However, at the time of Saul’s conversion, Jesus still addressed him as “Saul.” And the message he hears there is that after all, God is indeed in control, through Jesus his Son, who has conquered death through his own victory over death. The Cambridge Companion to St Paul, James D G Dunn (Editor), Cambridge University Press (2003), Past event & Present Salvation, Paul S Fiddes, Darton, Longman & Todd (1989), "Dictionary of Paul and his letters, Gerald F Hawthorne (Ed), Ralph P Martin (Ed), Daniel G Reid (Ed), Inter-Varsity Press (1993), The first urban Christians: the social world of the apostle Paul, Wayne A Meeks, Yale Univesrity Press (1984), In the steps of St Paul, H V Morton, Methuen (2002), What Saint Paul really said: Was Paul of Tarsus the real founder of Christianity?, Tom Wright, Lion Publishing (1997), Paul: The mind of the apostle, A N Wilson, W W Norton (1998). To the Jews I became a Jew to win over Jews; to those under the law I became like one under the law – though I myself am not under the law – to win over those under the law. Precisely what happened has been hard to determine as the accounts in Acts and the letters differ on the details. Answer: One of the often-thought-of “name changes” in the Bible is that of Saul to Paul. What we know about Paul comes from two extraordinary sources. BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. So he became a Christian. This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Arabia would be quite close to the northern part of Damascus, so he could have gone to reflect on what had happened. (1 Cor 9:19-23; see also 1 Cor 10:33, Rom 15:1). One of the most fascinating stories about Paul is his incredible transformation on the Damascus road but one thing that doesn't change in this transformation is his passion. So Paul attempted to snuff out this fledgling movement before it could do too much damage. He's really frustrated. When he goes to Jerusalem, it appears that he is accepted and is instructed in the basics of Christianity. For example, when St Paul talks about his conversion he makes no mention of a journey from Jerusalem to Damascus. Now, with boundless energy, Paul preached the gospel of the Christ crucified for the sins of all people far and wide, beginning at Jerusalem and continuing all the way to Rome. Chester Beatty Library - gallery of Paul's letters. It was unthinkable that the Messiah could have suffered in this way. Read more. A group of his converts had decided that they want to be circumcised and Paul is absolutely furious about this because he feels it compromises their very nature as Christians. He did not even know that he needed to change anything. But for these early Jesus people, the public humiliation was conquered through resurrection, God's vindication of Jesus, and this convinced them that Jesus was not a criminal who had died for his own sins; he had died for the sins of others. He could take all kinds of controversy and suffering. He didn’t. In fact we may have a situation where the apostle, the church founder, perhaps even the founder of the church of Rome, included a woman and the main leadership in Rome was by women. With its fantastic visions of heaven, its gory stories of the future, its impenetrable signs and symbols, many a reader has given up in exasperation in the attempt to fathom out its mysteries. But it seems that there was a very strong movement amongt the followers of Jesus to convert Gentiles [non-Jews] into Jews. Saint Paul is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in the history of the Western world. Since they lived among pagans, they were particularly conscious of how their religion might appear to those around them. Professor John Barclay, Professor in New Testament and Christian Origins, University of Divinity. He was not from Israel but was born in Tarsus, in modern Turkey. St Paul's Day is not a major feast day. And Paul the letter-writer gave us not only some of the profoundest pieces of early Christian theological reflection, but also some of the finest, most poignant writing in history. You can get some idea of Paul's passion when you read the letter in Galatians. He writes about the number of times he's been beaten, the number of times he's been put in prison, the number of shipwrecks he's endured and he seems proud of them. To the weak I became weak to win over the weak. John, [its author] is a seer and has been given a revelation of what is going on in heaven. Dr Mark Goodacre, Senior Lecturer in New Testament, University of Birmingham and Professor John Barclay, Professor in New Testament and Christian Origins, University of Divinity. Dr Mark Goodacre, Senior Lecturer in New Testament, University of Birmingham. This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. But was brought up outside of the homeland and was also at home in Greek culture, fluent in Greek, and had at least some understanding of the Greek or Roman cultural traditions. They've come up with a picture of Paul who'd be a man of his time and place; a hot headed Mediterranean who'd be quick to defend his honour and the honour of his followers, but who'd demand loyalty in return. Then will be dear all sorts of grain. Academics are trying to piece together these scraps of information with a new technique that's rather like a combination of sociology and forensic anthropology. But behind the paradoxes and the puzzles, there are fascinating glimpses of the man. Jews like Paul, who lived outside the Jewish homeland, were called diaspora Jews. Essentially, they were a small sect within Judaism. Paul never shied away from conflict. Priscilla is usually named first when he mentions the couple which implies that she is the head of the household. Many mistakenly assume the Lord changed Saul’s name to Paul sometime after Saul converted from Judaism to Christianity, which happened during his encounter with Christ on the Road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19). Antioch in Syria which was the third biggest city in the Roman empire and becomes the center of the movement to expand this new Christian sect - this sect of Jesus the Nazarene. Paul was born in Tarsu (now in the south east of Turkey) to a Jewish family. If blustering winds do blow aloft, Professor Jimmy Dunn, former professor of New Testament, University of Durham. Paul then disappears for a period and later reemerges in Antioch. Paul wrote some of the most beautiful and important passages in the whole of the Bible, but his works have also been used, among other things, to justify homophobia, slavery and anti-Semitism. He has also been accused of being anti-feminist, although many modern scholars would argue that in fact he championed the cause of women church leaders. Paul the apostle had expanded the church far and wide, flinging open the doors to Gentiles, strenuously fighting for his conviction that the gospel was for all people and that no barriers should be put in the way of Gentiles. Paul's martyrdom in or around 67 AD is commemorated by Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans and Eastern Orthodoxy on the 29th June each year. He stays with Peter for two weeks and presumably learns a little about Jesus from him. I have become all things to all, to save at least some.

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