For the past few days, we’ve learned about how the Apostle Paul was born into slavery, was set free, became a Roman citizen, studied under Gamaliel, persecuted Christians, and then converted to Christianity when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Today, I want to wrap up our discussion about this great father of the faith by sharing how he went from holding the name Saul, a Jewish zealot, to Paul, which means nothing but “short” in the Greek language. After being blinded by Jesus on his way to persecute the Church, the Holy Spirit instructed Saul to go into the city and wait for a man named Ananias to come and lay hands on him to restore his sight. After that, he began to preach the Gospel boldly and went to Arabia to be trained for ministry to the Gentiles — the ones he had overtly despised prior to his salvation. Ultimately, he shared his faith with Sergius Paulus, who was a proconsulate to Caesar. In today’s terms, that’s like saying that he was the secretary of state or a person of high ranking executive office. Because this man had such great influence in the land, when he became a Christian, Saul was thrilled…so much so that he decided to take on his name — Paulus. Though it didn’t have profound spiritual meaning, this special moniker meant the world to Paul because it signified and honored the redeeming work God accomplished in his own soul, and it commemorated the call that was placed on his life to preach the Gospel to others, especially those who were not like him.
My friend, the Lord has a new name for you. Though you may have been called many things by many people before you met Jesus, He has given you an unshakable identity in His Kingdom. While you might still feel shame and embarrassment when you think about your past, every transgression is overridden by His seal of salvation on your soul. He has written your name on a white stone, called you blessed, and wiped your slate clean. No more are you bound by the chains of bondage that once tied you to your sinful nature. Instead, you are a victorious conqueror in Christ, and by His Spirit, He empowers you to lead with salt and light and change the lives of many people around you!