The first word in the letter Paul wrote to the Galatians is “Paul.” Up to Acts 13:9, The Apostle was called by his Jewish name, Saul. It made him acceptable to his Jewish audiences. When he joined Barnabas and John Mark 01 unchainedon the first missionary journey to Galatia, his role changed radically. To begin with the journey was led by Barnabbas who brought his cousin, John Mark, along. Both Barnabbas and John Mark were solid Jewish believers. I would argue that their intention was to go to the Jews only, but while on the Island of Cyprus a “Jewish” false prophet attempted to prevent the governor, Sergius Paulus, a Roman Official, from accepting the faith. It was then that Paul stepped up and cursed the false “Jewish” prophet with blindness. Sergius Paulus became the first gentile convert under the Apostle Paul’s ministry. It is interesting that after Acts 13:9, Saul becomes Paul from that point on. Some early church fathers think that Saul took his gentile name at that time to honor his first convert who had the same name. But I see it as part of God’s plan to move Paul from a Jewish focus to a gentile focus.

Being of the tribe of Benjamin (As we read in Philippians), I’m fairly certain that his parents named Saul after the first King of Israel. Saul, the King, was head and shoulders taller than most of the men in Israel at that time and it made him stand out. It is interesting that “Paul” means “small” or “little.” Maybe that was an intentional change for this proud Pharisee who was humbled and knocked to his knees and blinded by the Lord. Paul’s blindness led to his salvation, but not so with the “Jewish” false prophet. Instead it led to the salvation of Paul’s first gentile convert. The Jews who insisted on forcing the Law into the salvation equation were as furious with Paul’s message as the Religious leaders were of Jesus who put Himself above the Law. Religious people hated Jesus. Religious people hated Paul. Religious people are violently opposed to a salvation message that is freely offered to irreligious people.

The second thing worth noting in Galatians 1:1is that Paul calls himself an “Apostle – not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead.” Paul’s apostleship to the gentiles came directly from God. As Rushdoony observes, “Paul is emphatic because there was a major effort to belittle his calling, his teaching, and his person.” This attack on Paul came from the Judaizers who insisted on connecting obedience to the law with salvation by grace through faith. Paul preached a Gospel that put the person and work of Christ at the center. It forced each person to see their sinfulness and their need for a savior. It took God’s divine intervention in this hyper-religious Pharisee’s life to get his attention. It takes divine intervention today as well for religious people to get the truth of the Gospel. Jesus did not come to set up another religion but to destroy all religion. It always takes divine intervention to set man free from the law of sin and death.