To continue the discussion from Which Bible character’s path moves you to awe the most?, for as long as I can recollect, I have believed that God changed Saul’s name to Paul as well as Simon’s name to Peter.
However, yesterday I came across this argument:
Here are the main points of Greg Lanier’s arguments:
First, in both cases, perhaps we are conditioned to expect divine name changes from the stories of Abram/Abraham and Jacob/Israel.
Also in both cases, “Many if not most Greek-speaking Jews in Paul’s day would have a Jewish/Hebrew name and a Hellenistic/Greek name.”
In the specific case of Saul/Paul:
- He is regularly addressed as Saul - in the Christophany, by the Holy Spirit, and by Christians many times after his conversion.
- Luke emphasizes the name Paul when he is set out on a missionary journey to Hellenistic audiences.
In the specific case of Simon/Peter:
- Despite the supposed name change in Matthew 16:17-18, this is better read as an emphasis on one of Peter’s names.
- In John 1:42, another potential name change, we have to wrestle with the data that this gospel identifies him as “Simon Peter” fifteen more times.
- In Peter’s epistle, he calls himself “Simeon Peter” (2 Pet 1:1).
Overall, I think this is a more careful reading of the text than I had done myself. I welcome other thoughts on Greg’s observations!