Did God change Saul's name to Paul?

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    Most message followers consider William Branham to be an infallible interpreter of scripture. It is the widely held view of message followers that, if we want to know what a passage of the Bible actually means, William Branham is the best source on all counts.

    When encountering a passage in scripture that seems to be at odds with William Branham's interpretation, message preachers generally encourage message followers to simply put it "on the shelf" until God reveals to them why William Branham has the correct view.

    But there are a number of biblical issues that William Branham seems to have messed up badly:

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    William Branham said that God changed Saul's name to Paul. Is this Biblically correct?

    What does the Bible say?

    The Old Testament contains many examples of people’s names being changed to better fit their circumstances. God changed the names of Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah (Gen 17:5, 15); He also changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Gen 32:28). Moses changed Hoshea’s name to Joshua (Num 13:16).[1] William Branham thought that something similar happened to Paul when he encountered Jesus on the Damascus Road (Acts 9).

    The suggestion that Saul’s name was changed to Paul at the time of his conversion has absolutely no support in the New Testament.[2]

    Here are several examples that illustrate this

    In Acts 9:4, we read:

    And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”[3]

    Acts 9:17 states:

    So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”[4]

    Acts 13:2 says,

    While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” [5]

    After Paul's conversion experience, he is called “Saul” 14 more times

    Please refer to:

    1. Acts 9:8
    2. Acts 9:11
    3. Acts 9:17
    4. Acts 9:19
    5. Acts 9:22
    6. Acts 9:24
    7. Acts 9:26
    8. Acts 11:25
    9. Acts 11:30
    10. Acts 12:25
    11. Acts 13:1
    12. Acts 13:2
    13. Acts 13:7
    14. Acts 13:9

    What caused the shift in the name?

    According to Knofel Staton:

    Saul is a Hebrew name. His mother probably named him after King Saul. Paul is a Greek name. Why two names? Because of the ethnic melting pot of the first century, many Jewish mothers gave their sons both Hebrew and Greek names at birth. That is probably what happened with Paul. We know that Saul was also known as Paul from Acts 13:9 as follows:
    Then Saul, who was also called Paul...[6]
    It is interesting to note that Saul used his Hebrew name until he began to do ministry in the part of the world that was mostly populated by Greeks. It was when he started his missionary journeys that he used the name Paul. That would have been a better point of contact between him and the Greeks. It would have helped the Greeks to know that he was not trying to make Jews out of them. That name would also be accepted by the Jews in the Greek-populated world, for most Jews in the Greek-populated world also used their Greek names.
    The name Paul literally means little. It is possible that his mother named him Paul because he was a small baby. Some writers do describe Paul as a short man.
    It is also possible that Saul gave himself the Greek name Paul as a self-imposed symbol of his humbleness. He saw himself as the least of the apostles and the chief of sinners (1 Corinthians 15:9; Ephesians 3:8; 1 Timothy 1:15). But those descriptions should not cause us to feel that Paul had an inferiority complex. Quite the contrary. He saw himself as someone who had been specially called by God. He saw himself as an apostle of Christ Jesus.[7]


    There is no evidence that God changed Saul's name to Paul. Therefore, William Branham's interpretation is wrong.

    Quotes of William Branham

    Saul, good name, Saul was a king one time in Israel, but Saul didn't fit an apostle. Might be all right for a king, but not an apostle. So Jesus changed his name from what? From Saul to Paul. [8]

    Words, names, they have meanings. Many people don't believe that, but that's true. If names don't have some meaning, why did Abram's name have to be changed to Abraham? Why did Sarai have to be changed to Sarah? Why did Saul have to be changed to Paul? Why did Simon have to be changed to Peter? See, all these has meanings, everything has meanings.[9]

    If there isn't something in a name, then why as long as Jacob was called Jacob, which means "supplanter, deceiver," that's what he was? But when he wrestled with the Lord all night, and the Lord changed his name, and about… when he was about sixty years old. He changed his name from—from—from Jacob to Israel, "a prince before God," and that's what he was. Why was Abram called… had to be called "Abraham" before the baby could be born? Why was Sarai called "Sarah" before the baby could be born?

    Why was Paul… or call… his name was Saul, but when he met Jesus, He changed him from Saul to "Paul."[10]


    1. John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Ru 1:20.
    2. C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, International Critical Commentary (London; New York: T&T Clark International, 2004), 48.
    3. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Acts 9:4
    4. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Ac 9:17.
    5. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Ac 13:2.
    6. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ac 13:9.
    7. Knofel Staton, Second Corinthians: Unlocking the Scriptures for You, Standard Bible Studies (Cincinnati, OH: Standard, 1988), 18–19.
    8. William Braham, 63-0318 - The First Seal, para. 282
    9. William Braham, 63-1214 - Why Little Bethlehem, para. 78
    10. William Braham, 63-1222 - God's Gifts Always Find Their Places, para. 47