Paul . . . an apostle of Jesus Christ . . . (Titus 1:1)

In many cultures, one’s name has significant importance. It is supposed to represent who the person is. My Chinese name means “one who is healthy.” My mother gave me this name because I was a healthy-looking baby. As she put it, “You were pleasantly plump.” Because I was taught to understand the meaning of names and to respect them, when I read names recorded in the Bible, I often take time to discover what they mean.

The apostle Paul originally went by the name Saul. Saul was his Hebrew name, and Paul was his Greek name. One reason for the shift from Saul to Paul was to reflect that his focus of ministry had moved from Jews to Gentiles. Another reason had to do with the meaning of both names. Saul means “one who has been prayed for” or “the desired one.” Paul means “little one” or “small one.” It is possible the apostle to the Gentiles instigated the shift from being referred to as Saul to being referred to as Paul because he wanted people to desire Jesus Christ rather than desiring him. Through taking on the name of Paul he was expressing the desire of his heart to be humble—one who was seeking to depend upon God for everything. Like Paul, we need to draw attention to Jesus rather than draw attention to ourselves.

Be humble and recognize your utter dependence on God.

Jim “Umf” Lo is a professor at Indiana Wesleyan University, cross-cultural leader, intercessor, and author of several books including Unholiness: Overcoming the Forces That Attack Your Soul (WPH).

© 2019 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.