We’ve already covered the conversion of Saul (2) on the road to Damascus. Three days later, when Ananias (2) lays hands on Saul, he receives his sight and Holy Spirit power. Then Saul breaks his fast and is baptized. From there, he grows as a follower of Jesus. He begins traveling to tell others about Jesus, being used powerfully by God to do so.
As he journeys with Barnabas to Cyprus, we read a subtle shift in his name. Luke simply writes, “Saul, also called Paul.” Though we don’t know why Luke chooses this time to mark his change of names, we do see Saul transition to Paul, just as he had a faith transition from being a Pharisee to a follower of Jesus.
The name Saul appears twenty-nine times in the first part of the book of Acts, whereas the name Paul occurs 183 times in the remainder of the book and 239 times in the New Testament, altogether.
Paul goes on several missionary trips to tell people about Jesus. He starts churches in various cities, and mentors many people to move into leadership roles. In his travels he also suffers much for his faith. He’s imprisoned, flogged, beaten, stoned, and shipwrecked, among other afflictions. Through all this, Paul presses on.
A prolific writer, Paul pens several letters to various churches and people. This is to encourage them and offer correction when needed. These make up about half the books of the New Testament and about one third of its content. Paul writes Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon.
Toward the end of his life, Paul writes to his protégé Timothy. Paul says that he fought well, finished his race, and stayed true to his faith.
Despite many hardships and reasons to quit, Paul perseveres to the end.
What must we do to fight well, finish our race, and stay true to our faith?