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Origin of the name PAUL.
Etymology of the name PAUL.
Meaning of the baby name PAUL.


PAUL.  [Gr. Paulos, either a modification of Saulos, the Gr. equivalent of the Hebrew "Saul" or rather Shaul [Saul, "asked for"]; or adopted from the name of Sergius Paulus ("little, small"), the first distinguished convert whom St. Paul made on his missionary travels (Acts xiii. 7, 9).  Usage: America, England, France, Germany.

    The great apostle of the Gentiles, and who did more to propagate Christianity than any one, except the Divine Redeemer Himself.  He first appears in the Scripture narrative in circumstances from which it would have been well-nigh impossible to augur his future career.  When, under the Mosaic law, some unhappy man was to be stoned to death on a capital charge, which was believed to have been proved against him, there was a wise precaution designed, if possible, to ensure that the result had not been reached by false swearing.  It was, that the witnesses on whose evidence the capital conviction had taken place should hurl the first stones at the victim (Deut. xvii. 7).  They would require to be men of very seared conscience if they could do it while all the time they secretly knew that they had sworn the life away by giving perjured evidence.  When the moment came for the witnesses to lead off in the execution, they were accustomed to cast down their outer garments, that they might hurl the stones with more murderous effect.  The first recorded act of Saul, or Paul's, public life was to watch those garments.  Humble as the function was, it constituted him an accomplice in Stephen's death (Acts vii. 58; viii. 1; xxii. 20).
     He was at this date (about June, A.D. 36) (?) a young man, and brief intimations from time to time enable us to find out what his early life had been.  He was by descent "an Hebrew of the Hebrews," i.e. both by the father's and the mother's side.  He was of the tribe of Benjamin, and was called Saul probably after the first king of Israel, who, with all his faults, was, with the exception, perhaps, of his son Jonathan, the most distinguished man the tribe of Benjamin had ever produced (Rom. xi. 1; Phil. iii. 4, 5).  The New Testament Saul's native place was Tarsus, in Cilicia, then a great focus of enlightenment; but his education was obtained chiefly in Jerusalem, at the feet of Gamaliel, one of the most sagacious and learned men of the time (Acts xxi. 39; xxii. 3).  In religion Saul felt no attraction towards rationalistic Sadduceeism, but adopted the strictest tenets of the Pharisaic sect, and was most conscientious in carrying out his belief (xxiii. 1, 6, 9; xxvi. 5).
     We next find Saul entering one Christian house after another in Jerusalem, arresting its inmates, women as well as men, and committing them to prison... There was what Saul considered an obnoxious colony of Christians in Damascus, which he was particularly anxious to destroy... He and his attendants were nearing Damascus when, at noon, a light brighter than that of the sun suddenly shone around the party.  Saul fell to the earth, and a voice from heaven was addressed to him.  It said, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?"  He anxiously inquired, "Who art Thou, Lord?"  To which the reply was, "I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest" (Matt. xxv. 40, 45)... On rising from the ground, Saul found that his power of vision had departed, so the attendants had to lead him blind and helpless into the city which he had expected to enter in almost princely dignity... Among the Christians at Damascus was one called Ananias, to whom a Divine communication came requiring him to go to Saul, whom, it was stated, he should find praying, and restore him to sight.  Ananias, who knew the errand on which Saul had come, hesitated to go, but he was assured that God had selected the former persecutor as "a chosen vessel" to bear His name to the Gentiles (their kings included) and to the Jews, suffering as well as labouring on his behalf.  Ananias went, miraculously restored Paul's sight, and administered to him the rite of baptism.  The conversion of Saul, or Paul, took place by one calculation in the year 35, or by others in 36, or about April, 37, or in 38, about two (?) to nine (?) years after the Crucifixion (Acts ix. 1-19, etc.).
     The Christians were exceedingly unpopular; any calumny against them was likely to be greedily swallowed, and when Nero falsely declared that they had set fire to Rome, the whole heathen dignitaries and multitude were ready to clamour for their destruction.  Here is the description which Tacitus gives of the scenes which followed:
     "With this view he" (Nero) "inflicted the most exquisite tortures on those men who, under the vulgar appellation of Christians, were already branded with deserved infamy.  They derived their name and origin from 'Christ,' who, in the reign of Tiberius, had suffered death by the sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilate.  For awhile this dire superstition was checked; but it again burst forth, and not only spread itself over Judaea, the first seat of this mischievous sect, but was even introduced into Rome, the common asylum, which receives and protects whatever is impure, whatever is atrocious.  The confessions of those who were seized discovered a great multitude of their accomplices, and they were all convicted, not so much for the crime of setting fire to the city, as for their hatred of human kind.  They died in torments, and their torments were embittered by insult and derision.  Some were nailed on crosses; others sewn up in the skins of wild beasts and exposed to the fury of dogs; others, again, smeared over with combustible materials, were used as torches to illuminate the darkness of the night.  The gardens of Nero were destined for the melancholy spectacle, which was accompanied with a horse race, and honoured with the presence of the emperor, who mingled with the populace in the dress and attitude of a charioteer.  The guilt of the Christians deserved, indeed, the most exemplary punishment; but the public abhorrence was changed into commiseration from the opinion that these unhappy wretches were sacrificed not so much to the public welfare as to the cruelty of a jealous tyrant."
     It is believed that the great apostle of the Gentiles was one of the "unhappy wretches" put to death in this horrid persecution.  He is said to have been martyred in the spring of 66; but the work he had done for his Divine Master did not die with him; it retained a vigorous life which not all the power of Imperial Rome could take away. (The Sunday School Teacher's Bible Manual, Hunter, 1894)


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