Thursday, February 27, 2014

Did Paul Change His Name?

The Harbor at Paphos, Cyprus

Someone asked me recently about an article posted on Messiah’s Mandate.org, “Why Did Paul Change His Name?” (http://messiahsmandate.org/why-did-paul-change-his-name/).  The point of the article is to challenge the idea that Saul’s name change to Paul was a rejection of his Jewish identity, which is how many Christians understand it.  As the article correctly states, the idea that Paul would reject his Jewish identity to follow the Jewish Messiah makes no sense at all.  It’s the result of hundreds of years of anti-Jewish thinking in the Church.

But the fact remains that in the earliest accounts of his life, this famous apostle is called Saul, while in the later accounts he’s called Paul.  Why the change?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

What is the “Dead Body” where the Vultures Gather?

Birds of Prey in Israel

“Where the dead body is, there also the vultures will be gathered together” (Luke 17:37, also Matt. 24:28).

Have you ever wondered what this verse means?  The picture it paints is familiar from old Western movies:  vultures circling in the sky over a dead body that slowly descend to feed on it.  Yes, vultures do gather around a dead body.  But Jesus mentions this at the end of some teaching about the time of his return (Luke 17:22-37; also in Matt. 24:23-28).  A dead body and vultures don’t seem to fit the subject.  Even the disciples had trouble following him.  The full verse says (in Greek), “And answering, they said to him, ‘Where, Lord?’  But he said to them, ‘Where the dead body is…’” (Luke 17:37).  They were expecting an answer to their question.  But instead he mentioned a dead body and vultures.