There are many instances in Scripture when the Lord changes people’s names, but there’s only one time I can think of when someone changed his own name and that’s the Apostle Paul. For the next few days, I want to unpack his fascinating story and tell you more about the significance of his change of identity. Historical accounts tell us that Paul, whose Jewish name was Saul (which was spelled Shaool in the original language), was born to zealot parents in the city of Gischala. Now, it’s important to understand that zealots in that day were not just people of religious fervor, but more like militant theocrats who used violence and treachery to engage in guerilla warfare in order to remove foreign occupants from Israel. Along these lines, they were involved in a major event called the tax revolt, which ended up getting them arrested and sold into slavery in Rome. Interestingly, that’s where Paul was born; he was born a slave. He grew up in the custody of a Roman master and he spent his teenage years being treated as a piece of property. Presumably his owner wasn’t too bad, because after he died, he manumitted Paul and his parents and they were granted freedom. In fact, under the prevailing law of the day, they became Roman citizens. That means that the great apostle went from having absolutely no rights of his own to enjoying the privileges of citizenship overnight, and he wasted nothing of his newfound opportunity.
My friend, though some seasons seem to keep you in chains, never forget that you serve a Savior who can turn any situation around, and He can do it in an instant. Nothing lasts forever, and though you may feel stuck in your current pain, the Lord is working in and around you to orchestrate the circumstances that will lead to your freedom. Don’t lose hope and don’t lose heart, for the God who is good and only does good cannot deny Himself; He is forever faithful. Even though you may not see it or feel it, the Son has set you free and you are free indeed. Believe that truth, keep hope alive in your heart, and be confident that a page always turns in the story He is writing through the moments of your life.