Acts 13:9
Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him,
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(9) Then Saul, (who also is called Paul).—It is impossible not to connect the mention, and probably the assumption, of the new name with the conversion of the proconsul. It presented many advantages. (1) It was sufficiently like his own name in sound to fall within the general practice which turned Jesus into Jason, Hillel into Pollio, Silas into Silvanus. (2) It was a Roman, not a Greek, name, and as such fell in with the ultimate work of the Apostle, already, it may be, contemplated in thought (comp. Romans 15:23), of bearing his witness to Christ in the imperial city. (3) It formed a link between him and the illustrious convert whom he had just made. He was, as it were, claiming a brotherhood with him. From this point of view, it is interesting to compare the name of Lucas or Lucanus, as borne both by the evangelist and the poet. (Comp. Introduction to St. Luke, Vol. I., p. 237.) Other reasons that have been assigned, as (1) that the Greek word Saulos had an opprobrious meaning, as = wanton, or (2) that the meaning of Paulus, as = little, commended itself to the Apostle’s humility, may be dismissed as more or less fantastic.

Filled with the Holy Ghost.—The tense of the Greek participle, implies a sudden access of spiritual power, showing itself at once in insight into character, righteous indignation, and prevision of the divine chastisement.

Set his eyes on him.—The word is that already so often noted, as in Acts 1:10, and elsewhere. As applied to St. Paul it may possibly connect itself with the defect of vision which remained as the after-consequence of the brightness seen on the way to Damascus. The Greek word, however, it is right to add, may just as well express the fixed gaze of men of strong powers of sight, as that of those who suffer from some infirmity. (See Acts 1:10; Acts 3:4; Luke 4:20; Luke 22:56.)




Acts 13:9

Hitherto the Apostle has been known by the former of these names, henceforward he is known exclusively by the latter. Hitherto he has been second to his friend Barnabas, henceforward he is first. In an earlier verse of the chapter we read that ‘Barnabas and Saul’ were separated for their missionary work, and again, that it was ‘Barnabas and Saul’ for whom the governor of Cyprus sent, to hear the word of the Lord. But in a subsequent verse of the chapter we read that ‘Paul and his company loosed from Paphos.’

The change in the order of the names is significant, and the change in the names not less so. Why was it that at this period the Apostle took up this new designation? I think that the coincidence between his name and that of the governor of Cyprus, who believed at his preaching, Sergius Paulus, is too remarkable to be accidental. And though, no doubt, it was the custom for the Jews of that day, especially for those of them who lived in Gentile lands, to have, for convenience’ sake, two names, one Jewish and one Gentile-one for use amongst their brethren, and one for use amongst the heathen-still we have no distinct intimation that the Apostle bore a Gentile name before this moment. And the fact that the name which he bears now is the same as that of his first convert, seems to me to point the explanation.

I take it, then, that the assumption of the name of Paul instead of the name of Saul occurred at this point, stood in some relation to his missionary work, and was intended in some sense as a memorial of his first victory in the preaching of the Gospel.

I think that there are lessons to be derived from the substitution of one of these names for the other which may well occupy us for a few moments.

I. First of all, then, the new name expresses a new nature.

Jesus Christ gave the Apostle whom He called to Himself in the early days, a new name, in order to prophesy the change which, by the discipline of sorrow and the communication of the grace of God, should pass over Simon Barjona, making him into a Peter, a ‘Man of Rock.’ With characteristic independence, Saul chooses for himself a new name, which shall express the change that he feels has passed over his inmost being. True, he does not assume it at his conversion, but that is no reason why we should not believe that he assumes it because he is beginning to understand what it is that has happened to him at his conversion.

The fact that he changes his name as soon as he throws himself into public and active life, is but gathering into one picturesque symbol his great principle; ‘If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away and all things are become new.’

So, dear brethren, we may, from this incident before us, gather this one great lesson, that the central heart of Christianity is the possession of a new life, communicated to us through faith in that Son of God, Who is the Lord of the Spirit. Wheresoever there is a true faith, there is a new nature. Opinions may play upon the surface of a man’s soul, like moonbeams on the silver sea, without raising its temperature one degree or sending a single beam into its dark caverns. And that is the sort of Christianity that satisfies a great many of you-a Christianity of opinion, a Christianity of surface creed, a Christianity which at the best slightly modifies some of our outward actions, but leaves the whole inner man unchanged.

Paul’s Christianity meant a radical change in his whole nature. He went out of Jerusalem a persecutor, he came into Damascus a Christian. He rode out of Jerusalem hating, loathing, despising Jesus Christ; he groped his way into Damascus, broken, bruised, clinging contrite to His feet, and clasping His Cross as his only hope. He went out proud, self-reliant, pluming himself upon his many prerogatives, his blue blood, his pure descent, his Rabbinical knowledge, his Pharisaical training, his external religious earnestness, his rigid morality; he rode into Damascus blind in the eyes, but seeing in the soul, and discerning that all these things were, as he says in his strong, vehement way, ‘but dung’ in comparison with his winning Christ.

And his theory of conversion, which he preaches in all his Epistles, is but the generalisation of his own personal experience, which suddenly, and in a moment, smote his old self to shivers, and raised up a new life, with new tastes, views, tendencies, aspirations, with new allegiance to a new King. Such changes, so sudden, so revolutionary, cannot be expected often to take place amongst people who, like us, have been listening to Christian teaching all our lives. But unless there be this infusion of a new life into men’s spirits which shall make them love and long and aspire after new things that once they did not care for, I know not why we should speak of them as being Christians at all. The transition is described by Paul as ‘passing from death unto life.’ That cannot be a surface thing. A change which needs a new name must be a profound change. Has our Christianity revolutionised our nature in any such fashion? It is easy to be a Christian after the superficial fashion which passes muster with so many of us. A verbal acknowledgment of belief in truths which we never think about, a purely external performance of acts of worship, a subscription or two winged by no sympathy, and a fairly respectable life beneath the cloak of which all evil may burrow undetected-make the Christianity of thousands. Paul’s Christianity transformed him; does yours transform you? If it does not, are you quite sure that it is Christianity at all?

II. Then, again, we may take this change of name as being expressive of a life’s work.

Paul is a Roman name. He strips himself of his Jewish connections and relationships. His fellow-countrymen who lived amongst the Gentiles were, as I said at the beginning of these remarks, in the habit of doing the same thing; but they carried both their names; their Jewish for use amongst their own people, their Gentile one for use amongst Gentiles. Paul seems to have altogether disused his old name of Saul. It was almost equivalent to seceding from Judaism. It is like the acts of the renegades whom one sometimes hears of, who are found by travellers, dressed in turban and flowing robes, and bearing some Turkish name, or like some English sailor, lost to home and kindred, who deserts his ship in an island of the Pacific, and drops his English name for a barbarous title, in token that he has given up his faith and his nationality.

So Paul, contemplating for his life’s work preaching amongst the Gentiles, determines at the beginning, ‘I lay down all of which I used to be proud. If my Jewish descent and privileges stand in my way I cast them aside. “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews, as touching the law, a Pharisee,”-all these I wrap together in one bundle, and toss them behind me that I may be the better able to help some to whom they would have hindered my access.’ A man with a heart will throw off his silken robes that his arm may be bared to rescue, and his feet free to run to succour.

So we may, from the change of the Apostle’s name, gather this lesson, never out of date, that the only way to help people is to go down to their level. If you want to bless men, you must identify yourself with them. It is no use standing on an eminence above them, and patronisingly talking down to them. You cannot scold, or hector, or lecture men into the possession and acceptance of religious truth if you take a position of superiority. As our Master has taught us, if we want to make blind beggars see we must take the blind beggars by the hand.

The spirit which led the Apostle to change the name of Saul, with its memories of the royal dignity which, in the person of its great wearer, had honoured his tribe, for a Roman name is the same which he formally announces as a deliberately adopted law of his life. ‘To them that are without law I became as without law . . . that I might gain them that are without law . . . I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.’

It is the very inmost principle of the Gospel. The principle that influenced the servant in this comparatively little matter, is the principle that influenced the Master in the mightiest of all events. ‘He who was in the form of God, and thought not equality with God a thing to be eagerly snatched at, made Himself of no reputation, and was found in fashion as a man and in form as a servant, and became obedient unto death.’ ‘For as much as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise took part of the same’; and the mystery of incarnation came to pass, because when the Divine would help men, the only way by which the Infinite love could reach its end was that the Divine should become man; identifying Himself with those whom He would help, and stooping to the level of the humanity that He would lift.

And as it is the very essence and heart of Christ’s work, so, my brother, it is the condition of all work that benefits our fellows. It applies all round. We must stoop if we would raise. We must put away gifts, culture, everything that distinguishes us, and come to the level of the men that we seek to help. Sympathy is the parent of all wise counsel, because it is the parent of all true understanding of our brethren’s wants. Sympathy is the only thing to which people will listen, sympathy is the only disposition correspondent to the message that we Christians are entrusted with. For a Christian man to carry the Gospel of Infinite condescension to his fellows in a spirit other than that of the Master and the Gospel which he speaks, is an anomaly and a contradiction.

And, therefore, let us all remember that a vast deal of so-called Christian work falls utterly dead and profitless, for no other reason than this, that the doers have forgotten that they must come to the level of the men whom they would help, before they can expect to bless them.

You remember the old story of the heroic missionary whose heart burned to carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ amongst captives, and as there was no other way of reaching them, let himself be sold for a slave, and put out his hands to have the manacles fastened upon them. It is the law for all Christian service; become like men if you will help them,-’To the weak as weak, all things to all men, that we might by all means save some.’

And, my brother, there was no obligation on Paul’s part to do Christian work which does not lie on you.

III. Further, this change of name is a memorial of victory.

The name is that of Paul’s first convert. He takes it, as I suppose, because it seemed to him such a blessed thing that at the very moment when he began to sow, God helped him to reap. He had gone out to his work, no doubt, with much trembling, with weakness and fear. And lo! here, at once, the fields were white already to the harvest,

Great conquerors have been named from their victories; Africanus, Germanicus, Nelson of the Nile, Napier of Magdala, and the like. Paul names himself from the first victory that God gives him to win; and so, as it were, carries ever on his breast a memorial of the wonder that through him it had been given to preach, and that not without success, amongst the Gentiles ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ.’

That is to say, this man thought of it as his highest honour, and the thing best worthy to be remembered about his life, that God had helped him to help his brethren to know the common Master. Is that your idea of the best thing about a life? What would you, a professing Christian, like to have for an epitaph on your grave? ‘He was rich; he made a big business in Manchester’; ‘He was famous, he wrote books’; ‘He was happy and fortunate’; or, ‘He turned many to righteousness’? This man flung away his literary tastes, his home joys, and his personal ambition, and chose as that for which he would live, and by which he would fain be remembered, that he should bring dark hearts to the light in which he and they together walked.

His name, in its commemoration of his first success, would act as a stimulus to service and to hope. No doubt the Apostle, like the rest of us, had his times of indolence and languor, and his times of despondency when he seemed to have laboured in vain, and spent his strength for nought. He had but to say ‘Paul’ to find the antidote to both the one and the other, and in the remembrance of the past to find a stimulus for service for the future, and a stimulus for hope for the time to come. His first convert was to him the first drop that predicts the shower, the first primrose that prophesies the wealth of yellow blossoms and downy green leaves that will fill the woods in a day or two. The first convert ‘bears in his hand a glass which showeth many more.’ Look at the workmen in the streets trying to get up a piece of the roadway. How difficult it is to lever out the first paving stone from the compacted mass! But when once it has been withdrawn, the rest is comparatively easy. We can understand Paul’s triumph and joy over the first stone which he had worked out of the strongly cemented wall and barrier of heathenism; and his conviction that having thus made a breach, if it were but wide enough to let the end of his lever in, the fall of the whole was only a question of time. I suppose that if the old alchemists had turned but one grain of base metal into gold they might have turned tons, if only they had had the retorts and the appliances with which to do it. And so, what has brought one man’s soul into harmony with God, and given one man the true life, can do the same for all men. In the first fruits we may see the fields whitening to the harvest. Let us rejoice then, in any little work that God helps us to do, and be sure that if so great be the joy of the first fruits, great beyond speech will be the joy of the ingathering.

IV. And now last of all, this change of name is an index of the spirit of a life’s work.

‘Paul’ means ‘little’; ‘Saul’ means ‘desired.’ He abandons the name that prophesied of favour and honour, to adopt a name that bears upon its very front a profession of humility. His very name is the condensation into a word of his abiding conviction: ‘I am less than the least of all saints.’ Perhaps even there may he an allusion to his low stature, which may be pointed at in the sarcasm of his enemies that his letters were strong, though his bodily presence was ‘weak.’ If he was, as Renan calls him, ‘an ugly little Jew,’ the name has a double appropriateness.

But, at all events, it is an expression of the spirit in which he sought to do his work. The more lofty the consciousness of his vocation the more lowly will a true man’s estimate of himself be. The higher my thought of what God has given me grace to do, the more shall I feel weighed down by the consciousness of my unfitness to do it. And the more grateful my remembrance of what He has enabled me to do, the more shall I wonder that I have been enabled, and the more profoundly shall I feel that it is not my strength but His that has won the victories.

So, dear brethren, for all hope, for all success in our work, for all growth in Christian grace and character, this disposition of lowly self-abasement and recognised unworthiness and infirmity is absolutely indispensable. The mountain-tops that lift themselves to the stars are barren, and few springs find their rise there. It is in the lowly valleys that the flowers grow and the rivers run. And it is they who are humble and lowly in heart to whom God gives strength to serve Him, and the joy of accepted service.

I beseech you, then, learn your true life’s task. Learn how to do it by identifying yourselves with the humbler brethren whom you would help. Learn the spirit in which it must be done; the spirit of lowly self-abasement. And oh! above all, learn this, that unless you have the new life, the life of God in your hearts, you have no life at all.

Have you, my brother, that faith by which we receive into our spirits Christ’s own Spirit, to be our life? If you have, then you are a new creature, with a new name, perhaps but dimly visible and faintly audible, amidst the imperfections of earth, but sure to shine out on the pages of the Lamb’s Book of Life; and to be read ‘with tumults of acclaim’ before the angels of Heaven. ‘I will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it.’

Acts 13:9-11. Then Saul, who also is called Paul — Moved by an immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him — Looked steadfastly on that impostor, and said, with just indignation, O full of all subtlety Παντος δολου, of all guile, as a false prophet; and all mischief — As a magician; thou child of the devil — A title well suited to a magician; and one who not only was himself unrighteous, but laboured to keep others from all goodness; wilt thou not cease — Even now, when thou hast heard the truth of the gospel; to pervert — By thy crafty and diabolical misrepresentations; the right ways of the Lord — The ways of truth, piety, and virtue; the only right ways. And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee — The hand of the heavy displeasure of the Lord Jesus, whose gospel thou opposest; and thou shalt be blind — Totally so, not seeing even the sun at noon-day, for a season — That thou mayest be convinced of thy sin and folly; and, if possible, be brought to repentance for it. And immediately — While Paul was yet speaking; there fell on him a mist and a darkness — That is, a gradually increasing darkness; and he went about — In the utmost confusion; seeking some to lead him by the hand — As not being able so much as to find the door without a guide, and afraid that he might run upon any person or thing that stood in his way.

13:4-13 Satan is in a special manner busy with great men and men in power, to keep them from being religious, for their example will influence many. Saul is here for the first time called Paul, and never after Saul. Saul was his name as he was a Hebrew; Paul was his name as he was a citizen of Rome. Under the direct influence of the Holy Ghost, he gave Elymas his true character, but not in passion. A fulness of deceit and mischief together, make a man indeed a child of the devil. And those who are enemies to the doctrine of Jesus, are enemies to all righteousness; for in it all righteousness is fulfilled. The ways of the Lord Jesus are the only right ways to heaven and happiness. There are many who not only wander from these ways themselves, but set others against these ways. They commonly are so hardened, that they will not cease to do evil. The proconsul was astonished at the force of the doctrine upon his own heart and conscience, and at the power of God by which it was confirmed. The doctrine of Christ astonishes; and the more we know of it, the more reason we shall see to wonder at it. Those who put their hand to the plough and look back, are not fit for the kingdom of God. Those who are not prepared to face opposition, and to endure hardship, are not fitted for the work of the ministry.}}Then Saul, (who is also called Paul) - This is the last time that this apostle is called "Saul." Henceforward, he is designated by the title by which he is usually known, as "Paul." When, or why, this change occurred in the name, has been a subject on which commentators are not agreed. From the fact that the change in the name is here first intimated, it would seem probable that it was first used in relation to him at this time. By whom the name was given him whether he assumed it himself, or whether it was first given him by Christians or by Romans - is not intimated. The name is of Roman origin. In the Latin language the name Paulus signifies little, dwarfish; and some have conjectured that it was given by his parents to denote that he was small when born; others, that it was assumed or conferred in subsequent years because he was little in stature. The name is not of the same signification as the name Saul. This signifies one that is asked, or desired. After all the conjectures on this subject, it is probable:

(1) That this name was first used here; for before this, even after his conversion, he is uniformly called Saul.

(2) that it was given by the Romans, as being a name with which they were more familiar, and one that was more consonant with their language and pronunciation. It was made by the change of a single letter; and probably because the name Paul was common among them, and pronounced, perhaps, with greater facility.

(3) Paul suffered himself to be called by this name, as he was employed chiefly among the Gentiles. It was common for names to undergo changes quite as great as this, without our being able to specify any particular cause, in passing from one language to another. Thus, the Hebrew name Jochanan among the Greeks and Latins was Johannes, with the French it is Jean, with the Dutch Hans, and with us John (Doddridge). Thus, Onias becomes Menelaus; Hillel, Pollio; Jakim, Alcimus; Silas, Silvanus, etc. (Grotius).

Filled with the Holy Ghost - Inspired to detect his sin; to denounce divine judgment; and to inflict punishment on him. See the notes on Acts 2:4.

Set his eyes on him - Looked at him intently.

9. Then Saul … also … called Paul—and henceforward Paul only; a softening of his former name, in accommodation to Roman ears, and (as the word signifies "little") probably with allusion as elsewhere to his insignificance of stature and appearance (2Co 10:1, 10) [Webster and Wilkinson].

filled with the Holy Ghost—the Spirit coming mightily upon him.

set his eyes on him and said—Henceforward Barnabas sinks into the background. The whole soul of his great colleague, now drawn out, as never before, shoots, by the lightning gaze of his eye, through the dark and tortuous spirit of the sorcerer. What a picture!

It is observable, that St. Luke never before called this great apostle by the name of Paul, and henceforth never calls him by the name of Saul. Though there be no great difference in these names,

Saul might be more acceptable to the Jews, amongst whom hitherto he had conversed; and

Paul a more pleasing name unto the Gentiles, unto whom he was now sent, and with whom for the future he should most converse. He was called Saul as he was a Jew born, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; and Paul, as he was a denizen of Rome; the Romans having that name in good account in several of their chief families.

Filled with the Holy Ghost; zeal for God’s glory, and faith and power to work the ensuing miracle.

Then Saul (who also is called Paul),.... He was called by both these names; as he was a Jew by birth, his parents called him Saul, that was his Jewish name, and by which he went among the Jews; and as he was a citizen of a Roman city, Tarsus in Cilicia, he went among the Romans, or Gentiles, by the name of Paul, a Roman name; and it was usual with the Jews to be called after this manner, that is, to have one name among themselves, and another among the Gentiles: it is a rule with them (n), that

"the Israelites out of the land, their names are as the names of the Gentiles;''

yea, their names differed in Judea and Galilee; a woman went by one name in Judea, and another in Galilee (o): and it is observable, that Luke calls the apostle by his Jewish name Saul, whilst he was among the Jews, and only preached among them; but now he is got among the Gentiles, and was about to appear openly to be their apostle, he all along hereafter calls him by his Gentile name Paul: though some think his name was changed upon his conversion, as it was usual with Jewish penitents to do; when a man repented of his sin, he changed his name (says Maimonides) (p),

"as if he should say, I am another, and not the man that did those (evil) works.''

So when Maachah, Asa's mother, or rather grandmother, was converted, or became right, she changed her name into Michaihu, the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah; that her former name might not be remembered, lest it should be a reproach unto her (q): though others think, that the apostle was so called, from Sergius Paulus the deputy, whose conversion he was the instrument of; and whose family might choose to call him so, because of the nearness in sound between the two names: others think he had his name Paul, or Paulus, from the smallness of his stature and voice, to which he seems to have some respect, in 2 Corinthians 10:10 and there is one Samuel the little, which the Jewish doctors often speak of, and who by some is taken to be the same with the Apostle Paul. This name is by Jerom, or Origen (r), interpreted "wonderful", as if it came from the Hebrew word "pala"; and others derive it from "paul", which signifies to work; and a laborious worker the apostle was, and a workman also which needed not to be ashamed; but since it is certain that Saul was his Hebrew name, it is most likely that this was a Gentile one, and not of Hebrew derivation: the first account of these names, and the reason of them, seems to be the best: now of him it is said,

that he was filled with the Holy Ghost; which does not design the gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost in general, with which he was always filled, and thereby qualified for his work as an apostle; but in particular, that he had by the Spirit, not only a discerning of the wickedness of this man, but of the will of God, to make him at this time a public example of divine wrath and vengeance, for his opposition to the Gospel: wherefore he

set his eyes on him; very earnestly, thereby expressing an abhorrence of him, and indignation against him, and as it were threatening him with some sore judgment to fall upon him.

(n) T. Hieros. Gittin, fol. 43. 2.((o) Ib. fol. 45. 3.((p) Hilchot Teshuva, c. 2. sect 4. (q) Targum in 2 Chronicles 15. 16. (r) De nominibus Hebraicis, fol. 106. H.

Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him.
Acts 13:9. Σαῦλος δὲ, ὁ καὶ Παῦλος] sc. λεγόμενος. Schaefer, ad Bos Ell. p. 213.

As Saul (שָׁאוּל, the longed for) is here for the first time and always henceforth (comp. the name Abraham from Genesis 17:5 onwards) mentioned under his Roman name Paul, but before this, equally without exception, only under his Hebrew name, we must assume a set historical purpose in the remark ὁ καὶ Παῦλος introduced at this particular point, according to which the reader is to be reminded of the relation—otherwise presupposed as well known—of this name to the historical connection before us. It is therefore the most probable opinion, because the most exempt from arbitrariness, that the name Paul was given to the apostle as a memorial of the conversion of Sergius Paulus effected by him.[6] “A primo ecclesiae spolio, proconsule Sergio Paulo, victoriae suae trophaea retulit, erexitque vexillum, ut Paulus diceretur e Saulo,” Jerome, in ep. ad Philem.; comp. de vir. ill. 5. The same view is adopted by Valla, Bengel, Olshausen, Baumgarten, Ewald; also by Baur, I. p. 106, ed. 2, according to whom, however, legend alone has wished to connect the change of name somehow adopted by the apostle—which contains a parallel with Peter, Matthew 16:16—with an important act of his apostolic life; comp. Zeller, p. 213. Either the apostle himself now adopted this name, possibly at the request of the proconsul (Ewald), or—which at least excludes entirely the objection often made to this view, that it is at variance with the modesty of the apostle—the Christians, perhaps first of all his companions at the time, so named him in honourable remembrance of that memorable conversion effected on his first missionary journey. Kuinoel, indeed, thinks that the servants of the proconsul may have called the apostle, whose name Saul was unfamiliar (?) to them, Paul; and that he thenceforth was glad to retain this name as a Roman citizen, and on account of his intercourse with the Gentiles. But such a purely Gentile origin of the name is hardly reconcilable with its universal recognition on the part of the Christian body. Since the time of Calvin, Grotius, and others, the opinion has become prevalent, that it was only for the sake of intercourse with those without, as the ambassador of the faith among the Gentiles, that the apostle bore, according to the custom of the time, the Roman name; comp. also Laurent, neut. Stud. p. 147. Certainly it is to be assumed that he for this reason willingly assented to the new name given to him, and willingly left his old name to be forgotten; but the origin of the new name, occurring just here for the first time, is, by this view, not in the least explained from the connection of the narrative before us.

Heinrichs oddly desires to explain this connection by suggesting that on this occasion, when Luke had just mentioned Sergius Paulus, it had occurred to him that Saul also was called Paul. Such an accident is wholly unnatural, as, when Luke wrote, the name Saul was long out of use, and that of Paul was universal. The opinion also of Witsius and Hackspan, following Augustine, is to be rejected: that the apostle in humility, to indicate his spiritual transformation, assigned to himself the name (Paulus = exiguus); as is also that of Schrader, d. Ap. Paul. II. p. 14 (after Drusius and Lightfoot), that he received at his circumcision the double name; comp. also Wieseler, p. 222 f.

πλησθεὶς πνεύμ. ἁγ.] “actu praesente adversus magum acrem,” Bengel. Comp. Acts 4:8; Acts 4:31, Acts 7:55, Acts 13:52.

[6] Lange, apost. Zeitalt. p. 368 (comp. Herzog’s Encykl. XI. p. 243), sees in the name Paul (the little) a contrast to the name Elymas; for he had in the power of humility confronted this master of magic, and had in a N.T. character repeated the victory of David over Goliath. Against this play of the fancy it is decisive, that Elymas is not termed and declared a master of magic, but simply ὁ μάγος.

Acts 13:9. Σαῦλος δέ, ὁ καὶ Παῦλος: since the days of St. Jerome (De Vir. Ill., chap. 6, cf. Aug[257], Confess., viii., 4, etc., cf. amongst moderns Bengel, Olshausen, Ewald, Meyer) it has been thought that there is some connection here emphasised by the writer between the name Sergius Paulus and the assumption of the name Paul by the Apostle at this juncture. (Wendt (1899) inclines to the view that the name Paul was first used in Acts 13:1. See in loco and critical notes.) So too Baur, Zeller, Hausrath, Overbeck, Hilgenfeld are of opinion that Luke intended some reference to the name of the proconsul, although they regard the narrative of his conversion as unhistorical. But Wendt rightly maintains (1899) that the simple ὁ καὶ without the addition of ἀπὸ τότε would not denote the accomplishment of a change of name at this juncture, and that if the change or rather addition of name had been now effected, the mention of it would naturally have followed after the mention of the conversion of the proconsul in Acts 13:13. The connection seemed so strained and artificial to many that they abandoned it, and regarded the collocation of the two names as a mere chance incident, whilst Zöckler (whose note should be consulted, Apostelgeschichte, in loco, second edition), who cannot thus get rid of the striking similarity in the names of the two men, thinks that the narrative of St. Luke is too condensed to enable us fully to solve the connection. But since it was customary for many Jews to bear two names, a Hebrew and a Gentile name, cf. Acts 1:23; Acts 12:25; Acts 13:1, Colossians 4:11, Jos., Ant., xii., 9, 7, and frequent instances in Deissmann, Bibelstudien, pp. 182, 183, cf. Winer-Schmiedel, p. 149 note, it may well be that Luke wished to intimate that if not at this moment, yet during his first missionary journey, when the Apostle definitely entered upon his Gentile missionary labours, he employed not his Jewish but his Gentile name to mark his Apostleship to the Gentile world (“Seit 13. 1. ist der jüdische Jünger Σαῦλος Weltapostel,” Deissmann); by a marvellous stroke of historic brevity the author sets before us the past and the present in the formula ὁ καὶ Π.—a simple change in the order of a recurring pair of names: see Ramsay’s striking remarks, St. Paul, p. 83 ff., with which however, mutatis mutandis, his more recent remarks, Was Christ born at Bethlehem? p. 54, should be carefully compared. See also Deissmann, u. s., Nösgen, Wendt, Hackett, Felten, and Zöckler, in loco, and McGiffert, Apostolic Age, p. 176. This preference by St. Luke of the Gentile for the Hebrew name has its analogy in St. Paul’s own use in his Epistles (and in his preference for Roman provincial names in his geographical references, cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2 Corinthians 8:1; 2 Corinthians 9:2, Romans 15:26, Php 4:15).

[257] Augustine.

9. Then [But] Saul, who also is called Paul] The proconsul had been determined in his purpose, and Saul had come before him. At this point we first meet the name by which the great Apostle is best known throughout the Christian Church, and many reasons have been given why he assumed this name, and why at this time. Some have thought that the name was adopted from the proconsul’s, his first convert of distinction, but this is utterly alien to all we know of the character of St Paul, with his sole glory in the cross of Christ. Far more likely is he to have been attracted to it, if it were not his before, by the meaning of the Latin word (paullus = little) and its fitness to be the name of him who called himself the least of the Apostles. But perhaps he only did what other Jews were in the habit of doing when they went into foreign lands, and chose him a name of some significance (for the Jews were fond of names with a meaning) among those with whom he was about to mix. Dean Howson (Life and Letters of St Paul, i. p. 164) compares Jose—Jason; Hillel—Julus, and probably the similarity of sound did often guide the choice of such a name, and it may have been so with the Apostle’s selection. St Luke, recognizing that the history of St Paul is now to be his chief theme and that the work for which he was separated was now begun, names the Apostle henceforth only by the name which became most current in the Churches.

filled with the Holy Ghost] So that the punishment inflicted on Elymas was dictated to the Apostle by the Spirit, and he knew from the inward prompting thereof, that what he spake would come to pass.

set [fastened] his eyes on him] For Elymas was standing by, doubtless ready to catch at anything which he might be able to turn to the discredit of the Apostles.

Acts 13:9. Ὁ καὶ Παῦλος, who also Paul) Paul having laid aside his old name, which he had borne from the time of his circumcision, receives a new name, equivalent to the surname קטון [= little: the Latin paulus, Paulus], which it seems implied by the particle καὶ that he bore in entering upon his apostleship; and this new name was given him in consequence of his first gospel victory towards the west among the Greeks, the single letter being changed (S into [70]), not by an error of the Greeks of Cyprus, but by the Divine counsel, appropriately and seasonably. The cause is either external or internal. Externally, he seems to have adopted the name of the proconsul, because lie had showed himself the friend of Paul, perhaps in confirming his right as a Roman citizen; for this was wont to be a reason for assuming a name. See Cic. l. 13, fam. ep. 35 and 36. The inner cause is, that Sergius Paulus himself, the first-fruits of this expedition, had formed a spiritual tie of connection with the apostle. This name besides was one familiar to the Gentiles, of whom he was presently after the apostle, and agreeable to them, rather than the Hebrew name, Saul; it answered also to his stature, 2 Corinthians 10:10 (“His bodily presence is weak:” Paulus = little), and to his feeling as respects himself, Ephesians 3:8, with which comp. Psalm 68:27.—πλησθεὶς, filled) by a present active operation, against this energetic sorcerer. Therefore Barnabas gives place to him from this point: Acts 13:13.—Πνεύματος Ἁγίου, with the Holy Ghost) John 20:22-23.

[70] Guelpherbytana: libr. Wolfenbuttel: Gospels def.: sixth cent.: publ. by Knittel, 1763.

Verse 9. - But for then, A.V.; is also for also is, A.V.; fastened for set, A.V. (above, Acts ill 4, note). Who is also called Paul. The explanation of Jerome, Augustine, Bede, and many modern commentators, as Meyer, Olshausen, etc., and not rejected by Renan, is that Saul took the name of Paul on the occasion of this remarkable and important conversion of Sergius Paulus. Saul's future intercourse with Gentiles made it desirable that, after the common custom of the Jews of his day - as seen in Peter, Stephen, Mark, Lucius, Jason, Crispus, Justus, Niger, Aquila, Priscilla, Drusilla etc. - he should have a Gentile name, and so, in honor of his illustrious convert, or in memory of his conversion, or at the special request of Sergius Paulus (Baronius), he took the name of Paul, which in sound was not unlike his Hebrew name. The fact of this change of name being recorded by St. Luke at this precise moment makes this the most simple and natural explanation. Compare Gideon's change of name to Jerubbaal (Judges 6:32; Judges 7:1; Judges 8:29, 35). Alford, on the ether hand, thinks it strange that any one should make such a mistake as Jerome's, and says that "this notice marks the transition from the former part of his history" - "gathered from the narratives of others" - to "the joint memoirs of himself and St. Paul." But this gives no account of the coincidence of the two Pauls, nor is it true that the latter half of the Acts begins here. It began at ver. 1, and the name of Saul has been retained three times in the early part of this chapter. Farrar speaks of this explanation as, long and deservedly abandoned," and as having in it an element of vulgarity. Howson thinks that Paul had long been his Roman name, but that the conversion of Sergius Paulus, as it were, stereotyped the Roman name as that by which the apostle was henceforth to be known. The idea of Augustine and others, that he took the name of Paul (paulus, small) from humility, to indicate that he was "the least" of the apostles, is fanciful. Neither is Chrysostom's assertion, that he changed his name at his ordination or consecration, borne out by the facts. Renan ('Saint Paul,' 1:19) notes that "Paul" was a very common name in Cilicia. No certainty can be arrived at in the matter. Acts 13:9Saul - Paul

The first occurrence of the name of Paul in the Acts. Hereafter he is constantly so called, except when there is a reference to the earlier period of his life. Various explanations are given of the change of name. The most satisfactory seems to be that it was customary for Hellenistic Jews to have two names, the one Hebrew and the other Greek or Latin. Thus John was also called Marcus; Symeon, Niger; Barsabas, Justus. As Paul now comes prominently forward as the apostle to the Gentiles, Luke now retains his Gentile name, as he did his Jewish name during his ministry among the Jews. The connection of the name Paul with that of the deputy seems to me purely accidental. It was most unlike Paul to assume the name of another man, converted by his instrumentality, out of respect to him or as a memorial of his conversion. Farrar justly observes that there would have been in this "an element of vulgarity impossible to St. Paul."

Set his eyes on him

See on Luke 4:20.

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