I mean, wasn’t he the guy who was present at Stephen’s execution and consented to it?
It is clear that the reason Stephen was murdered was because he had uttered the sacred name Yahweh, thereby committing blasphemy under Jewish law. (See Stephen and Yahweh)
There can be no doubt that Paul held to the “ineffable name” doctrine as espoused by the religious leaders of his day.
After Stephen’s death, did Paul have a change of heart regarding this “ineffable name” doctrine?
There is one way to find out. If you would like to hear more of the details just proceed reading on.
To begin with, Paul was trained as a Pharisee and, in his own words:
…was advancing in Judaism beyond any of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more abundantly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. (Gal. 1:14)
After the death of Stephen, Paul was converted on the road to Damascus, seeing the resurrected Yahushua in a vision (Acts 9:1-25, 22:5-16, 26:10-23; Gal. 1:13-16). Spending three years in Arabia re-examining the Scriptures (Gal. 1:17-19), he came to the truth that the traditions taught by the Pharisees were actually against the Torah (of Trust).
Paul Sent to the Nations
Paul, like eleven of the original disciples, became an apostle. But unlike the eleven, who were primarily sent to the circumcision (i.e., the Israelites), Paul was also sent to the uncircumcised nations of the world (Gal. 2:6-9; see Gal. 1:14-2:9).
Faced with unsurmountable evidence that the messiah, his original apostles and other disciples used the sacred name Yahweh, many Christian theologians, in order to cling to their doctrine that they need not know or use the sacred name, present Paul as their eminent example.
The original apostles and the other disciples were all, by nationality, Israelites and were sent primarily to the Israelites; as a result, this reasoning goes, they used the sacred name because they were Israelites and spoke Hebrew.
Christians, it is argued, are from all nations and their apostle was Paul. In this scenario, Paul, despite his Israelite ancestry, never taught or used the sacred name. Therefore, they conclude, gentile Christians do not need to know or use it either.
“Yahweh” Is Not a Hebrew Name
This last-ditch attempt to justify not using the sacred name would be humorous if it were not for the sad fact that so many wish to believe it. The sacred name Yahweh is not a Hebrew name; but it is the almighty’s personal name by which he has revealed himself to mankind.
According to Scriptures, all nations, regardless of what language they speak, will know and call upon the name Yahweh (See All Nations and the Sacred Name).
Paul does not contradict the Scriptures; indeed, though his motives were at first suspect by the eleven who remained of the original apostles, as well as by the other early members of the assembly, he was found to be in complete accord with them and a valid apostle (Acts 9:26-31).
He was in harmony with Yahushua and the eleven apostles because, like them, he used the sacred name. He not only used it, his Jewish opposition tried to have him killed for that reason.
Persecution of the Saints
Proof that Paul used the sacred name begins with his earlier persecutions against the followers of the messiah. Paul, zealous for the traditions of his fathers, blindly followed the Pharisees of his day.
He tells us that during this period of his life he actively persecuted the disciples of Yahushua, noting:
I indeed therefore thought in myself I ought many things contrary to the name of Yahushua the Nazaraean to do. Which also I did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prisons, authority from the chief priests having received, and they being put to death, I gave my vote against them. (Acts 26:9-10)
One must ask the question, “Under what verdict were these saints convicted?” Paul answers this when he continues by saying:
And in all the synagogues often punishing them (by death), I COMPELLED THEM TO BLASPHEME. And being exceedingly furious against them I persecuted (them) even (pursuing after them) as far as foreign cities. (Acts 26:11)
The book of Acts tells us of Paul’s earlier life, stating:
But Paul, still breathing out threatenings and slaughter towards the disciples of the sovereign, having come to the high priest asked from him letters to Damascus, to the synagogues so that if any he found and being on the road, both men and women, having bound them he might bring them to Jerusalem. (Acts 9:1-2)
Paul, himself, tells the Jews of Jerusalem of his earlier zealous efforts to kill the members of the early assemblies. As part of his conversation with them, we read in Acts:
I indeed am a Jewish man, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, having been instructed according to the exactness of the ancestral law, being a zealous one for the deity, even as all of you are this day; who this way persecuted unto death, binding and delivering up to prison both men and women. (Acts 22:3-4)
And in Galatians Paul tells his readers:
For you have heard of my conduct once in Judaism, that excessively I was persecuting the assembly of Yahweh and was ravaging it; and advancing in Judaism beyond many contemporaries in my own nation; being more abundantly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. (Galatians 1:13-14)
After his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul repented of his former ways. He therefore repented of having killed the followers of the messiah because they blasphemed under a Jewish interpretation of the Torah (the traditions of his fathers).
Notice also that Paul had “compelled” the saints to blaspheme. It is implied by the term “saints” that Paul now considered these people innocent of any evil. What then could Paul have forced them to say that, in the eyes of the Jewish rabbis, would be considered worthy of death and persecution?
The answer is that Paul had forced them to utter the sacred name Yahweh. As a result—since Paul himself makes an issue out of this type of blasphemy and the fact that he had killed innocent people because of it—it is clear that after reconsideration he now believed that the accusation of blasphemy for merely uttering the sacred name was itself evil. Appropriate use of the sacred name was, in fact, a saintly act.
Paul Teaches the Name Yahweh
The initial indication that Paul taught the sacred name is found in a conversation between Yahushua and Ananias, which took place shortly after Paul’s conversion. Ananias openly wondered why Yahushua asked him to accept Paul into his house:
And answered Ananias, Sovereign, I heard from many concerning this man, how he did many evils to the saints in Jerusalem; and he has authority here from the chief priests to bind ALL WHO CALL UPON YOUR NAME. And the sovereign said to him, Go, for a vessel of election to me is this man, to bear my name before the nations and kings, and the sons of Israel: FOR I WILL SHOW HIM HOW MUCH IT BEHOOVES HIM TO SUFFER FOR MY NAME. (Acts 9:13-16)
The name being proclaimed was Yahushua’s higher name, the name he shared with his father, not his earthly name Yahushua (See Salvation and the Name of the Messiah). It was for the sacred name “Yahweh” that both the messiah and those following him were persecuted (See The Messiah and the Sacred Name).
The fact that Paul taught and used the sacred name after he became an apostle is best revealed in the history about Paul being brought before Gallio, the Roman proconsul of Achaia, Greece. This record shows that the Jews of Corinth tried to have Paul convicted before a Roman court for using the sacred name.
The book of Acts reports the following:
But Gallio, being proconsul of Achaia, the Jews rose with one accord against Paul and led him to the judgment seat, saying that contrary to the law this (man) persuades men to worship the deity. And Paul being about to open his mouth, Gallio said to the Jews: “If indeed therefore it was some unrighteousness or some wicked criminality, O Jews, according to reason I should have borne with you; but if it be a question about a λόγου (WORD) and NAMES and a law which is among you, see to it yourselves; for I do not wish to be a judge of these things.” And he drove them from the judgment seat. (Acts 18:12-16)
Notice first that the legal question at hand was based solely upon a “law” among the Jews. This law dealt with the use of a “λόγου (word) and names.”
Only one Jewish law from this period dealt with a word (singular) that would create an argument over the use of “names” between orthodox Jewry and the disciples of Yahushua: the Jewish prohibition against using the sacred name Yahweh.
Paul Teaches Against Jewish Talmudic Law
The Jews of Corinth were holding that Paul was teaching a doctrine that “persuades men to worship the deity” in a fashion that was “contrary to the law,” at least to Jewish Talmudic law based upon the Jewish interpretation of Leviticus 24:16.
This statement can only mean that Paul was teaching men to use the sacred name. The Jews, on the other hand, taught that the sacred name should be substituted with other names (generic and titles) like adonai, el, and eloah (eloahi, eloahim). Paul was on the verge of responding when Gallio dismissed the whole case as irrelevant in his court.
Paul Emphasizes Sacred Name
That Paul was teaching and using the sacred name Yahweh is also shown in his letters. Besides an assortment of direct quotes from the Old Testament that contain the sacred name (see Rom. 2:24 [Isa. 52:5]; Rom. 4:6-8 [Ps. 32:1-2]; Rom. 10:13 [Joel 2:32]; etc.), several of his citations have direct bearing upon its use.
For example, the sacred name is emphasized in the book of Romans. In the tenth chapter Paul is explaining that there is one Yahweh for both Greeks and Jews. He states:
For there is not a difference (between) Judahites and Hellenes; for the same sovereign of all is rich towards all that call upon him. (Romans 10:12)
He justifies his statement by adding a paraphrase of the prophet Joel, stating:
For everyone, whosoever may call upon the name of Yahweh shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)
Joel 2:32, upon which his claim is made, states that “all who shall call upon the name of Yahweh shall be saved.” The Greek word κύιου (kuriou) which is used by the Greek text in the above verse from Romans, is clearly a gloss for Yahweh.
Paul then carries his discussion about the sacred name into a rhetorical question:
How then shall they call on (him) whom they have not trusted? and how shall they trust on (him) about whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear apart from one proclaiming? and how shall they proclaim unless they are sent? (Romans 10:14-15)
In short, one cannot trust in a deity if he has never heard about him, and how can anyone hear of him unless someone is sent to proclaim who he is? And to know him is to know his name.
Importantly, this is exactly what Yahushua did, as he stated when he reported back to his father:
I manifested your name to the men whom you have given me out of the world. (John 17:6)
I made known to them your name and will declare it. (John 17:26)
Also, he told the Jews that opposed him:
I have come in the name of my father, and you receive me not. (John 5:43)
In the fourteenth chapter of Romans, Paul quotes Isaiah 45:23-24, “that to me (Yahweh) every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear; he shall say, Only in Yahweh do I have righteousness and strength.” (Rom. 14:11)
Also in the fifteenth chapter of Romans, Paul quotes Psalm 18:49:
Therefore I will extol you, Yahweh, among the nations, and to your name I will sing praises. (Romans 15:9)
To this quote he attaches another from Psalm 117:1:
Praise Yahweh all nations; praise him, all peoples. (Romans 15:11)
With these above quotes given by Paul we should add one more from 1 Corinthians, which cites Jeremiah 9:24:
For in this let glory him who glories, (that) he understands and knows me, that I am Yahweh. (1 Corinthians 1:31)
In each of these above quotes no sense is attainable unless both Paul and his readers knew the sacred name. How can one call upon, praise, or sing praises to a name he has not heard? How can one understand or know eloahim, that he has said, “I am Yahweh,” if this knowledge is not imparted?
Yet, this is precisely the message brought by Paul. Yahushua, sent by the father, proclaimed the father’s name to his apostles, and his apostles, in turn, were sent to proclaim that name to those who wished to be saved.
The Book of Hebrews
The book of Hebrews, written by Barnabas or Timothy under the direction of Paul, informs us:
By him (Yahushua), therefore, we should offer (the) sacrifice of praise continually to Yahweh, that is, fruit of (the) lips confessing to his (Yahweh’s) name.” (Heb. 13:15)
Earlier in this text we read that one of the proofs that Yahushua was the messiah is a quote from Psalm 22:22, addressed to the father, which states:
I will declare your name to my brothers; I will praise you in the midst of the assembly. (Hebrews 2:12)
This quote is in direct reference to the fact that Yahushua had revealed the father’s name to his disciples (John 5:43, 17:6, 26). Therefore, the book of Hebrews states that Yahushua was not ashamed to call his disciples “brothers.” (Heb. 2:11-12)
Finally, after being warned of falling away from the truth, the assembly is commended by being addressed in the letter to the Hebrews with these important words:
But we are persuaded concerning you, beloved, better things, and (things) connected with salvation, even if thus we speak. For the deity is not unrighteous as to forget your work and YOUR LABOUR OF LOVE WHICH YOU DID SHOW TO HIS NAME, having served to the saints and are (still) serving. But we desire each of you to show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end; that you not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through trust and long patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:9-12)
The early assembly, therefore, was to continue “to show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end” as they had up until now toward the sacred name Yahweh. Paul, rather than casting aside the sacred name, here gives us proof that he highly praised those who, with a labour of love, adhered to the sacred name doctrine.
Early Assemblies Knew the Sacred Name
That the disciples and the early assemblies knew the sacred name is further supported by the great body of existing evidence which shows that until well beyond the time of Paul’s writings, all of the main Greek (Septuagint) texts of the Old Testament retained the sacred name—either in Hebrew or Aramaic characters or with a transliteration retaining its correct pronunciation.
Therefore, even if all of Paul’s writings had originally been in Greek, as many Christian theologians would have us believe, the sacred name itself remained in the readers’ grasp. At no time would they check their Bibles (which then consisted only of the Old Testament) and find the substitutes “theos” or “kurios.”
Even more important, the very fact that Paul emphasized these passages dealing with the sacred name shows that it was part of the basic doctrine taught in the early assemblies: whether to the circumcised or uncircumcised.
Sacred Name Retained in New Testament
Indeed, throughout the texts of the New Testament one can find numerous quotes from the Old Testament that used the sacred name. Further, ancient records demonstrate that in the earliest editions of the New Testament (latter half of the first century C.E.) the sacred name was retained.
These details prove that Paul and all the authors of the New Testament, like those of the Old Testament, both knew and used the name Yahweh.
Not until the mid-second century C.E. did the ineffable name doctrine seize the throat of the early assemblies and begin to choke the sacred name from use.
In summation, the facts presented in this discussion should settle any debate about whether or not Paul or the early assemblies knew and used the sacred name Yahweh.