Young People's Bible Dictionary
by Barbara Smith (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1965)
Paul. The apostle to the Gentiles in the early church, and writer of several N.T. books. "Paul" is the Greek form of the Jewish name Saul (for the king of O.T. times). Paul's family, residents of Tarsus, possessed Roman citizenship. This was a special status given to persons of the provinces as a reward for service to the Empire, or it could be purchased. What happened to Paul after the trip to Rome (told in Acts, chs. 28 and 28) is not known. Some traditions say that he was later released and that he traveled again for a few years before he was put to death in Rome. A summary of his early life is given in Acts 22:3-21; biographical information is also given in some of the letters. His work and journeys are recounted in Acts 8:1; 9:1-30; chs 13 to 28.
Harper’s Bible Dictionary
edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)
You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition, edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms, http://www.borders.com, or http://www.christianbook.com.
Paul the apostle and most effective missionary of early Christianity, the church’s first theologian, sometimes called the ‘second founder’ of Christianity. Known as ‘Saul’ within the Aramaic-speaking community, the apostle was usually called ‘Paul,’ the Roman form of his name. More than one-fourth of the writings of the NT are attributed to him.
Primary sources for Paul’s life and thought are his Letters. Acts, which includes much biographical material about him, should be seen as secondary. Although tradition attributes it to a travel companion of Paul, Acts sometimes conflicts with the Letters and presents the particular theological perspectives of its author. Thirteen Letters in the NT are ascribed to Paul, but modern scholarship believes some of these were written by later followers of the apostle (especially Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus). As fully reliable sources, the scholar depends on Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon.
Early Life: According to Acts (21:39; 22:3), Paul was born and reared a Jew in Tarsus, an important city of Cilicia. The date of his birth is uncertain but is usually estimated at about a.d. 10. In a statement reported in Acts 22:28, Paul claimed that he had been born a Roman citizen (see 21:39). This would mean that he had inherited citizenship from his father (or some other ancestor) who had done meritorious service for the Romans. Paul’s use of Greek confirms his origin as a Hellenistic Jew of the Dispersion, at home in the Greco-Roman world.
Paul’s earliest education would have been in the home, with his father as instructor. The loyalty of Paul’s parentage to the ancestral faith remains a mark of pride. Of himself Paul boasts, ‘circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews’ (Phil. 3:5). At about age six, Paul would have attended the synagogue school for instruction in the Scriptures and Hebrew. Paul, according to Acts 22:3, was educated in Jerusalem ‘at the feet of Gamaliel.’ This teacher would have been the important Rabban Gamaliel, noted for his spirit of tolerance (Acts 5:34-39). Although his Letters never mention a rabbinic teacher, Paul’s arguments reflect methods of biblical interpretation used by the rabbis. Paul, like most rabbis, was a member of the Pharisaic party (Phil. 3:5).
Acts 26:10 is sometimes read to imply that Paul had been a member of the Sanhedrin. This seems unlikely, since Paul could scarcely have omitted such an achievement from his list in Phil. 3:5-6. Similarly unlikely is the possibility that Paul, as a young student in Jerusalem, had seen Jesus. Nowhere does Paul mention such an encounter, and his Letters evidence little knowledge of the life and teachings of Jesus. Early in life, Paul learned a trade, probably from his father. The trade was tentmaking and other leatherwork (Acts 18:3). Practice of this trade provided Paul later with means to support his missionary activity (1 Thess. 2:9; 1 Cor. 9:6).
Prior to his conversion, Paul had been a persecutor of Christians. Acts reports that he ‘laid waste the church’ and ‘dragged off men and women and committed them to prison’ (8:3). He ‘persecuted them even to foreign cities’ (26:11), receiving authority from the high priest to extradite Christians from Damascus (9:1-2; 22:5). What jurisdiction the Jerusalem hierarchy might have had over inhabitants of distant cities is problematic, and Paul’s assertion that he was ‘still not known by sight to the churches of Christ in Judea’ (Gal. 1:22) raises questions about his persecuting activity in Jerusalem. That Paul had been a persecutor, however, is confirmed by his Letters: ‘I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it’ (Gal. 1:13; see Gal. 1:23; 1 Cor. 15:9). As a Pharisee, Paul may have been angered by the failure of the followers of Jesus to live strictly by the requirements of the law (see Gal. 1:14). He was no doubt enraged by the Christian identification of the crucified Jesus as Messiah (Christ). Paul had expected a triumphant messiah, not one who bore the curse of the cross (Gal. 3:13). For Paul, the crucified Christ had been a stumbling block (1 Cor. 1:23).
The late-second-century apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla describes the apostle as ‘a man small of stature, with bald head and crooked legs…with eyebrows meeting and nose somewhat hooked.’ Paul himself reports that his critics say ‘his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account’ (2 Cor. 10:10). Paul’s physical weakness is epitomized by his ‘thorn in the flesh’ (2 Cor. 12:7). The report of the thorn, together with references from Galatians (4:13, 15; 6:11), has been variously interpreted to imply that Paul was afflicted by such disorders as malaria, eye trouble, or migraine headaches. In spite of this unidentifiable malady, Paul had the strength to overcome serious physical obstacles (2 Cor. 11:24-28). Paul was a person of strong emotional expression: once a persecutor of Christians, later a bitter foe of opponents (Gal. 5:12; 2 Cor. 11:13).
Conversion: Paul’s conversion was not without preparation. As a Jew influenced by speculation about the future, Paul had looked forward to the coming of the Messiah. As a persecutor, Paul had heard the message of the disciples and had been impressed by their perseverance. His conversion did not involve turning to a new God (see 1 Thess. 1:9); before and after, Paul worshiped the God of the OT. Moreover, Paul’s conversion did not involve a serious moral trauma. Paul claimed that, before he accepted Jesus as Christ, ‘as to righteousness under the law’ he had been ‘blameless’ (Phil. 3:6).
Paul’s conversion is presented in the form of a call narrative, like that of the prophets (see Jer. 1:4-10). This is clear from his most extensive account (Gal. 1:11-17), where the experience is seen to involve two main elements: the revelation of Jesus as God’s Son and the commission to preach him to the Gentiles. In Acts, the conversion of Paul is recounted three times (9:1-19; 22:3-16; 26:4-18). These accounts stress supernatural details: light and voices from heaven, Paul’s blindness and recovery. They also observe that Paul’s conversion was facilitated by a religious leader (9:10-18; 22:12-16) and that Paul was baptized (9:18; 22:16)—events nowhere mentioned in Paul’s Letters. For Paul, one feature was crucial: he had seen the Lord (1 Cor. 9:1); the risen Christ had appeared to him (1 Cor. 15:8). This vision led to the conviction that the crucified Jesus was the Messiah. It also showed that the events of the end of history had started to unfold and that, in these last days, God was accomplishing his divine purpose through the crucified Christ, as power working in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
Missionary Activity: The balance of Paul’s life is devoted to responding to God’s commission. The attempt to chronicle that life involves a number of problems. For example, scholars note that Acts presents Paul as making five trips to Jerusalem after his conversion (9:26; 11:30; 15:4; 18:22; 21:15), while the Letters record only three (Gal. 1:18; 2:1; Rom. 15:25). Scholars also note that the Jerusalem conference is described in Acts 15:6-21 as if it had occurred early in Paul’s missionary career, while in Gal. 2:1-10 it is said to have taken place fourteen (or perhaps seventeen) years after his conversion, and when, later in his career, Christians in Jerusalem describe the conference to Paul, they assume he was ignorant of its decisions (Acts 21:25; cf. 15:22-29). The offering that Paul at the conference agreed to collect (Gal. 2:10) is scarcely mentioned in Acts (24:17, 26), but in the Letters it is seen to be a major concern of the latter part of Paul’s missionary endeavor (1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8-9; Rom. 15:25-28).
In response to these problems, most scholars conclude that the conference was held relatively late in Paul’s career. Acts, in turn, is seen to present too many trips to Jerusalem. Its author depicts the movement of the mission from Jerusalem to Rome as a symbol of Paul’s repeated turning from Jews to the Gentiles (13:46; 18:6) and consequently constructs Paul’s activity into three missionary journeys, all beginning in the east and moving west. Some scholars believe Paul engaged in missionary work farther west (in Macedonia and Achaia) prior to the conference. For them, the fourteen years of silence (Gal. 1:21-2:1) were filled with activity.
Taking the Letters as primary (but not ignoring evidence from Acts), Paul’s career can be summarized in the following way. After his conversion in about a.d. 34 or 35, Paul spent three years in Arabia (i.e., Nabatea; Gal. 1:17). No doubt some of that time was spent in religious reflection, but probably Paul began to preach relatively soon. Unless he had been doing more than meditating, Paul would scarcely have had to flee from Damascus (2 Cor. 11:32-33; Acts 9:23-25). His first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion occurred around 37. Although the account in Acts presents him as ‘preaching boldly’ (9:29), Paul’s own testimony is that he saw only Cephas and James (Gal. 1:18-20).
After this fifteen-day visit to Jerusalem, Paul engaged in missionary activity in Syria and Cilicia (Gal. 1:21). Acts 13 and 14 describe a mission to Cyprus and central Asia Minor (Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe). At Lystra, Paul is reported to have been stoned (Acts 14:19), an incident confirmed by 2 Cor. 11:25. During this fourteen-year period, Paul may have engaged in missionary work in north Galatia (founding the churches addressed in Galatians), Macedonia (Philippi and Thessalonica; see 1 Thess. 1:2-3:10), and Achaia (Corinth). Acts, of course, places the missionary activity in these provinces after the Jerusalem conference (16:11-18:21). Acts and the Letters agree that Paul was accompanied on this mission by Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy (1 Thess. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:19). At Philippi, Paul is said to have been beaten with rods (Acts 16:22), one of the three times he suffered this punishment (2 Cor. 11:25). At Corinth (2 Cor. 10:14), where he labored for a year and a half (Acts 18:11), Paul probably wrote 1 Thessalonians—the earliest book in the NT. There he also appeared for trial before Gallio (Acts 18:12-17), the newly appointed governor, whose accession to power can be dated at around 50 or 51. According to Paul’s strategy, the mission was begun in a large urban center, after which fellow workers were enlisted to help in spreading the gospel into the surrounding areas (2 Cor. 1:1).
The Jerusalem conference (Gal. 2:1-10; Acts 15:1-21) was probably convened in 50 or 51. According to both accounts, the primary issue was the question of requiring circumcision for Gentile converts, i.e., requiring Gentiles to become Jews before they could become Christians. Both accounts agree, too, in regard to the decision: circumcision should not be required. According to Galatians, the leaders of the Jerusalem church (Peter, James, and John) approved Paul’s mission, but requested him to collect an offering for the poor of the Jerusalem congregation (1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8-9; Rom. 15:26).
After the conference, Paul traveled to Antioch (see Acts 15:30; 18:22). Cephas (Peter) arrived shortly thereafter (Gal. 2:11). At first, Cephas ate with the Gentile members of the church. When emissaries from James, the leader of the Jerusalem church, came to Antioch, Cephas withdrew from table fellowship with the Gentiles. Apparently, the ‘circumcision party’ (Gal. 2:12), asserting its power in Jerusalem, had insisted that Gentile Christians observe Jewish food laws (see Acts 15:22-29; 21:25). Paul, upset by Cephas’s failure to recognize that the fellowship of the Lord’s table depended solely on faith, ‘opposed him to his face’ (Gal. 2:11).
After the conference, Paul carried on an extensive mission in Ephesus (ca. a.d. 52-54). There Paul wrote most of his correspondence to the Corinthians. An early letter mentioned in 1 Cor. 5:9, 11 was probably lost. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in response to problems in Corinth reported by Chloe’s people (1 Cor. 1:11) and by a letter from the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 7:1). When relations between Paul and the Corinthians deteriorated, Paul seems to have made a quick visit from Ephesus to Corinth—a journey scholars call the ‘painful’ or ‘sorrowful’ visit (implied by 2 Cor. 2:1; 12:14; 13:1). This visit aggravated the conflict, and provoked Paul to write the ‘severe’ or ‘tearful’ letter (2 Cor. 2:2-4; 7:8), part of which may be preserved in what we now have as 2 Corinthians 10-13. Galatians also comes from this period, being written after the Jerusalem conference (Gal. 2:1-10). In Galatia, as in Corinth, the church had been invaded by opponents who preached a ‘different gospel’ (Gal. 1:6) and/or ‘another Jesus’ (2 Cor. 11:4).
During the Ephesian ministry Paul was probably imprisoned (see 2 Cor. 1:8-11). Although the account in Acts 19 mentions no prison, Paul says that he had suffered ‘far more imprisonments’ (2 Cor. 11:23) at a time when Acts has reported only the imprisonment at Philippi (16:23-39). During this probable Ephesian imprisonment, Paul seems to have written Philippians and Philemon (Phil. 1:7, 13, 14, 17; Philem. 1, 9, 10, 13). Imprisonment in Ephesus (rather than Caesarea or Rome) would help explain how the extensive exchange of information between Paul’s prison and the church at Philippi (Phil. 2:25-30; 4:18) was possible. It would also make more feasible Paul’s plan to visit the Philippians after his release (Phil. 1:26; 2:24). Similarly, a runaway slave from Colossae (Onesimus) would much more likely have met Paul in Ephesus than in the more distant Caesarea or Rome, and Paul’s plan to visit the owner of the slave (Philem. 22) is more plausible if Paul is imprisoned in nearby Ephesus. If Colossians is an authentic Letter of Paul, it too would have been written from the Ephesian imprisonment (see Col. 4:3, 10), since the situation from which it was written is closely related to that of Philemon (see Col. 4:10-17; Philem. 2, 23-24).
After leaving Ephesus, Paul moved on to Troas, and eventually to Macedonia (2 Cor. 2:12-13). There he met Titus, who brought him good news from Corinth (2 Cor. 7:5-7). In response, Paul apparently wrote 2 Corinthians 1-9, the ‘reconciliation letter.’ He then left Macedonia for Corinth where he spent three months (probably the winter of 55 or 56; see Acts 20:2-3) and wrote Romans. From Corinth, Paul departed for Jerusalem with the offering, anticipating trouble from the Jews and Jewish Christians (Rom. 15:31). Biographical information from the Letters ceases at this point. Acts, however, describes in detail Paul’s final trip to Jerusalem (20:3-21:16), his imprisonment (21:27-23:30), his transfer to Caesarea (23:31-26:32), and his voyage to Rome (27:1-28:31).
Those who accept the pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy, Titus) as genuine believe Paul was released from his first imprisonment in Rome (2 Tim. 4:16-17) and made another journey in the East. During this hypothetical journey, he is supposed to have visited such places as Troas (2 Tim. 4:13), Ephesus (1 Tim. 1:3), Miletus (2 Tim. 4:20), and Crete (Titus 1:5). According to 2 Tim. 4:6-8, Paul is back in prison, anticipating martyrdom. This reconstruction, built on data which the pastorals have derived from the authentic Letters, is unconvincing. Although a tradition suggests that Paul had been released from Rome and visited Spain (1 Clement 5:7), this tradition probably rests on Rom. 15:24, 28. More likely, Paul was executed at the end of his original Roman imprisonment, probably in a.d. 62.
Letters: Paul’s writings are not literary epistles, but occasional letters, written to particular churches about particular problems. They were intended to be read to the assembled congregation (1 Thess. 5:27). Paul constructed his Letters according to the epistolary conventions of the day. The letter begins with an introductory salutation followed by a paragraph of thanksgiving. Then comes the body of the letter where the major concerns are addressed. Usually the earlier part of the letter deals with doctrine while the later sections present ethical exhortation. Toward the end of the letter, Paul frequently discloses his travel plans. The letter ends with greetings and a benediction.
Within the Letters Paul employs various rhetorical forms. His style is influenced by the diatribe—the Hellenistic form of discourse where the speaker raises questions and then proceeds to answer them (see Rom. 3:27-31). From time to time, formulas like ‘I appeal to you’ (Rom. 12:1; 1 Cor. 1:10) are introduced. Paul also includes traditional material: hymns (Phil. 2:5-11), confessions (1 Cor. 8:6), and liturgical expressions (1 Cor. 11:23-25). Paul dictated his Letters (Rom. 16:22), and his oral style sometimes results in awkward or incomplete expressions (see Rom. 2:17-21).
In interpreting Paul’s Letters, attention is given to various problems. A question can be raised, for example, about the integrity or unity of the Letters. Most scholars believe 2 Corinthians to be a composite of at least two letters, and some doubt the unity of Philippians. The Letters were arranged in their present form by an editor who collected them around the end of the first century. They are arranged according to length with longest first. Attention has also been given to the identification of the opponents Paul faced. Although efforts have been made to identify them as Judaizers or Gnostics, different foes—representing the variety of early Christianity—were probably encountered in different situations. Recently, some forms of sociological analysis have been applied to the Letters. By this method, Paul’s churches are investigated within their cultural and social settings. For example, Paul’s notorious restriction of women (1 Cor. 14:33-36; 11:2-16; regarded by some scholars as later interpolations) may have resulted from disturbances caused by some women in Corinthian society—problems that did not exist in other situations where Paul’s more typical Christological perspective was affirmed (Gal. 3:28).
Theology: Paul was not a dogmatic or systematic theologian. Romans, which is a summary of his gospel, is something of an exception. Although some interpreters suppose Paul’s thought underwent gradual evolution, most agree that the central features of his theology took shape early and remained consistent. The background of Paul’s thought is also debated. In general, his debt to Judaism is acknowledged. Paul’s theological method owes much to the rabbis, and his concept of righteousness is anticipated in the Dead Sea Scrolls. On the other hand, his view of the world is influenced by Hellenistic cosmology, and his Christological expressions (see Phil. 2:5-11) reflect the imagery of the descent and ascent of heavenly redeemers. Paul’s belief that baptism accomplishes unity with Christ (Gal. 3:27) and that improper participation in the Lord’s Supper causes sickness and death (1 Cor. 11:30) is reminiscent of ideas prevalent in the Hellenistic cults. Above all, however, Paul is a biblical theologian; his primary purpose is to interpret the revelation of the righteous God—the God of the OT.
Various attempts have been made to locate the center of Paul’s thought. According to traditional Protestant interpretation, the center is found in Paul’s doctrine of justification by faith. Actually, the terminology that presents this doctrine is limited in large measure to Romans and Galatians. The view of Albert Schweitzer—that the center of Paul’s thought is his apocalyptic mysticism—has recently been revived in a new way. Apocalyptic thought, according to the new view, emphasizes a real end of history. Paul, in adopting apocalyptic categories, intends to affirm the ultimate triumph of God.
Fundamental to Paul’s theology is his acceptance of Jesus as Christ and Lord. Since the Messiah has come, the end is at hand (Rom. 13:11; 1 Cor. 10:11). The decisive event has already occurred in history (Gal. 4:4) in the death and resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15:20). Since the Messiah is the crucified one (1 Cor. 1:23), the cross is crucial to Paul’s Christology (1 Cor. 2:2). Through the crucified one, the love of God is revealed (Rom. 5:8)—a revelation of the Creator in the person of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).
The other side of this revelation of love is the disclosure of God’s wrath (Rom. 1:18). For Paul, wrath means judgment or alienation from God. Paul argues that efforts by Gentiles and Jews to get right with God have failed (Rom. 1:18-3:20). As alienated from God, people are under the control of sin, which enslaves humanity (Rom. 5:21; 6:6) and results finally in death (Rom. 5:12-21; 6:23). The law that reveals God’s righteous demands (Rom. 7:12) also shows people to be sinners (Rom. 7:13). Moreover, the law is helpless as an instrument for salvation (Gal. 3:21); it even encourages people to seek to establish their own righteousness by self-centered effort (Rom. 10:3).
The new revelation of God’s righteousness (or justification; one Greek word underlies both translations) is disclosed in Christ (Rom. 3:21-22). This revelation is a gift of God’s grace (Rom. 3:24). It shows both that God is righteous and that God gives righteousness to people (Rom. 3:26). As a gift of grace, righteousness is conveyed even to sinners and Gentiles. This forgiving grace of God does not compromise God’s moral integrity. The revelation in Christ shows that God’s gracious mercy and God’s righteousness are consistent. This saving action of God is announced in the gospel—the powerful proclamation (Rom. 1:16) in which Christ is re-presented (Gal. 3:1). The response by which God’s action is claimed by people is faith (Rom. 3:22, 25; 10:17)—a venturesome commitment to the Crucified One (Phil. 3:9-11). To persons who respond in faith, God grants a new relationship that is variously characterized as justification (Rom. 3:24, 26; Gal. 2:16), redemption (Gal. 4:5; 1 Cor. 1:30), and reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-19; Rom. 5:10).
The new situation can be characterized as a life of freedom and responsibility. The person of faith is free from wrath (Rom. 5), sin (Rom. 6), law (Rom. 7), and death (Rom. 8). In response to God’s grace, the person of faith is called to ethical obedience. Ethics is central to Paul’s thought; he believes the whole law is summed up in the command of love (Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5:14). The demand of love has its norm in Christ (2 Cor. 5:14); the law of love is the law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:21; Gal. 6:2). In the ethical struggle, the follower of Christ is aided by the Spirit which God in the last days has given (Rom. 8:4, 9-11; Gal. 5:25). The response of faith creates a community—the people of God (Gal. 6:16). Their central act of worship is the Lord’s Supper—a common meal in which the community celebrates the presence of Christ and anticipates his coming (1 Cor. 11:23-26). In depicting the church as the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-27; Rom. 12:4-5), Paul stresses the unity of the community and the interdependence of its members in doing the work of God.
Bibliography Beker, J. Christian. Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980. Bornkamm, Günther. Paul. New York: Harper & Row, 1971. Jewett, Robert. A Chronology of Paul’s Life. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979. Keck, Leander E. Paul and His Letters. Proclamation Commentaries. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979. Meeks, Wayne A. The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983.
The New Jerome Biblical Commentary
Edited by Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy, Englewood Cliff, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1990, article on "Paul," pages 1329-1337, by Joseph A. Fitzmyer
Paul's Name. In his letters the apostle calls himself Paulos, the name also used in 2 Pet 3:15 and from Act 13:9 on. Prior to that in Acts he is called Saulos (7:28, 8:1,3; 9:1, etc.), the Gk form of Saoul. The latter spelling is found only in the conversion accounts (9:4,17; 22:7,13; 26:14) and stands for the Hebr Saul, the name of the first king of ancient Israel (e.g., 1 Sam 9:2,17; cf. Acts 13:21). It means "asked" (of God or of Yahweh). Acts 13:9 marks the transition from "Saul" to "Paul" (except for the later Saoul): Saulos de kai Paulos, "Saul, also known known as Paul." The name Paulos is the Gk form of the well-known Roman cognomen (family name), Paul(l)us, used by the Aemilian gens, the Vettenii, and the Sergii. One can only conjecture how Paul got such a Roman name. It is pure coincidence that Saul begns to be called Paul in the account in Acts where the Roman proconsul Segius Paulus is converted (13:7-12); for it is hardly likely that Paul assumed the name of this illustrious Roman convert from Cyprus (pace Jerome. In Ep. ad Philem. 1; PL 26: 640; H. Dessau, et al.). More likely the apostle was called Paulos from birth, and Saoul was the signum or supernomen (added name) used in Jewish circles. Many Jews of the period had two names, one Semitic (Saul) and the other Greek or Roman (Paul); cf. Acts. 1:23; 10:18; 13:1. The names were often chosen for their similarity of sound. There is no evidence that "Saul" was changed to "Paul" at the time of his conversion; indeed, Saulos is used in Acts even after this even. The change in 13:9 is probably due to different sources of Luke's information. Paulus in Latin means "small," "little," but it had nothing to do with Paul's stature or modesty. (pages 1329-1330)
To explore a topical index providing much additional information on Paul, browse:
Edited for BibleTexts.com by Robert Nguyen Cramer