The church at Antioch included prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon (nicknamed Niger), Lucius from Cyrene, Manaen (a childhood friend of Herod the ruler), and Saul. 2 As they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Appoint Barnabas and Saul to the work I have called them to undertake.” 3 After they fasted and prayed, they laid their hands on these two and sent them off. 4 After the Holy Spirit sent them on their way, they went down to Seleucia. From there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 In Salamis they proclaimed God’s word in the Jewish synagogues. John was with them as their assistant. 6 They traveled throughout the island until they arrived at Paphos. There they found a certain man named Bar-Jesus, a Jew who was a false prophet and practiced sorcery. 7 He kept company with the governor of that province, an intelligent man named Sergius Paulus. The governor sent for Barnabas and Saul since he wanted to hear God’s word. 8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for that’s what people understood his name meant) opposed them, trying to steer the governor away from the faith. 9 Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Saul, also known as Paul, glared at Bar-Jesus and 10 said, “You are a deceiver and trickster! You devil! You attack anything that is right! Will you never stop twisting the straight ways of the Lord into crooked paths? 11 Listen! The Lord’s power is set against you. You will be blind for a while, unable even to see the daylight.” At once, Bar-Jesus’ eyes were darkened, and he began to grope about for someone to lead him around by the hand. 12 When the governor saw what had taken place, he came to believe, for he was astonished by the teaching about the Lord. (Acts 13:1-12, CEB)
I find it interesting that Saul is still named here. This is well after the conversion we say changed Saul to Paul. And even here in the passage we hear that Saul is known as Paul. But tradition tells us that Saul was converted to Paul so why is he still known as Saul?
Well Saul never gave up that name and was known as Saul and Paul. Just as you know people who have multiple names for different groups. I was known as sarge by a group of people in middle school. I’ve known people who are called Robert to one group and Bob to another. It is not uncommon even today. Many in Saul’s day had a name they used around Israelites and a name they used around Greeks.
So Saul is Paul, and Paul is Saul. They were a fierce persecutor of the Way and now they are casting people into blindness by the Holy Spirit. When we follow God our lives will change, but maybe not our name…