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 F14, 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 F15: 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) F16,
``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 F17: 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 F18, interpreted "wonderful", as if it came from the Hebrew word (alp) "pala"; and others derive it from (lep) , "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.
F14 T. Hieros. Gittin, fol. 43. 2.
F15 Ib. fol. 45. 3.
F16 Hilchot Teshuva, c. 2. sect 4.
F17 Targum in 2 Chron 15. 16.
F18 De nominibus Hebraicis, fol. 106. H.