Saul is a changed man, living a new life as a Christian in Jerusalem. With the help of his friend Barnabas, Saul is accepted and forgiven by those he once persecuted. Scripture tells us Saul preaches “boldly in the name of the Lord, and disputes against the Grecians” (also known as the Hellenists) in Jerusalem. The Bible says the Grecians desired to kill Saul because of his teachings. Once again, Saul finds his life in danger. For Saul’s safety, the brethren in Jerusalem take Saul to Caesarea and send him back to his hometown of Tarsus.
Saul’s persecution of the Jerusalem Christians was an awful thing, and many Christians fled the city to escape this persecution. Acts 11:19 tells us the Christians who fled scattered to areas as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, and they took their faith with them. The Bible says they were “preaching the Lord Jesus” to the Jews in these cities, and “a great number believed, and turned to the Lord.” The Church is growing in these areas. When word of this growth reaches the Apostles in Jerusalem, they decide to send Barnabas to Antioch. Barnabas, ever the
Barnabas and Saul remain with the church in Antioch a whole year preaching, teaching, and admonishing the believers before the Holy Spirit sends in them out to preach in other areas (Acts 13:2).
The Bible details numerous changes in people’s names throughout scripture. For instance, in the Old Testament, God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and Jacob’s name to Israel. In the New Testament (John 1:42) Jesus changes Simon’s name to Cephas (or Peter). Saul also has a change in his name. However, unlike others in the Bible such as Abraham, Israel, and Peter, we are not told if God changes Saul’s name to Paul. We are simply told in Acts 13:9, “Saul, who also is called Paul.” What we do know is Saul was his Hebrew name given at birth, and scripture refers to Saul as Paul after he begins preaching to the Gentiles who are Greek.
Saul, once living in a lost state while on the road to Damasus, is now found. With a new life in Christ or as a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), Saul becomes known as Paul, an Apostle of Christ. God’s plan to use Paul as a vessel to spread the gospel (Acts 9:15-16) takes flight. Paul will go on to preach the good news throughout the ancient world.