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The Scriptorium


Many names and one Name. Acts 9

What’s in a Name? (7)

Pray Psalm 72.7, 8.
In His days the righteous shall flourish,
And abundance of peace,
Until the moon is no more.
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.

Sing Psalm 72.7, 8.
(Martyrdom: Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed)
Let righteousness abundant be where Jesus’ reign endures.
Let peace increase from sea to sea ‘til moonlight shall be no more. 

Read Acts 9.1-43; meditate on verses 3-6.

1. Whom was Saul persecuting? How?

2. What did Jesus tell him to do?


You probably noticed that names play a big role in Acts 9. We could say that Acts 9 is a very “namely” chapter, for the many names mentioned there. Each of these has a purpose in Luke’s narrative of the ongoing work of Christ, telling or foreshadowing something about the Gospel and its effects. They are historically accurate, even while, symbolically, they point to matters beyond themselves.

Consider: Three names were in some sense rescued from ignominy (Saul, Judas, Ananias). Two names represent the ethnic poles of Jesus’ Acts 1.8 mandate (Jerusalem, Damascus). He whose name was prominent for encouragement to the first Christian community brought encouragement to Saul at a time when he truly needed it (Barnabas). Two names suggest the extent of the Gospel’s healing and transforming power (Aeneas, Tabitha). What’s in a name?

We see this use of names for larger purposes in various places in Scripture. Abram, “father of a people”, became Abraham, “father of many peoples.” Jacob the deceiver became Israel who strove with God. Simon the unstable became Peter, the Rock. And Saul of Tarsus would become Paul the apostle.

So let’s consider these names as road markers along our journey through Acts. They signal what’s up ahead, what’s to come, and they hint at a Gospel of barrier-breaking, world-transforming, reconciling and restoring, all-things-newing power because of one supreme Name – Jesus.  

And most of what follows will unfold around the name of him who persecuted Jesus, and found forgiveness, life, hope, and a new mission in life.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
On his way to a deadly mission, Saul encountered the life-giving Name of Jesus. Suddenly a light shone. Saul fell to the ground in fear. Then he heard a voice and asked, “Who are You, Lord?” The reply, “I AM Jesus.” (Acts 9.5)

That Name. At that Name “every knee should bow…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2.10, 11).

As God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex. 3.14).
And as God said to Isaiah, “I AM God, and there is no other; I AM God, and there is none like Me…”
(Is. 46.9)

Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (Jn. 8.58).
“I AM the resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11.25).
“I AM the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14.6).

God uses names for many purposes. God changes names for many reasons. But there is one Name that never needed changing for any purpose or any reason. And that Name belongs to our beloved Savior and Lord. “Jesus Christ IS the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13.8).  

Namely: The Alpha and Omega. Immanuel. King of kings and Lord of lords. The Light of the world. Prince of Peace. Lamb of God. The Good Shepherd. Bread of Life. Chief Cornerstone. Messiah. The Word of God.
Always. I AM.

For reflection
1. Which of the many names given to Jesus do you find most glorious and helpful in your times of need? Why?

2. How should we be helped by knowing that Jesus has called us by name, and we are His (Is. 43.1)?

3. How do the various names for Jesus teach us to think about the scope of the Gospel?

A good work was begun in Saul, when he was brought to Christ’s feet with those words, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And never did Christ leave any who were brought to that. Behold, the proud Pharisee, the unmerciful oppressor, the daring blasphemer, prayeth! And thus it is even now, and with the proud infidel, or the abandoned sinner. What happy tidings are these to all who understand the nature and power of prayer, of such prayer as the humbled sinner presents for the blessings of free salvation! Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Acts 9.10-22

Pray Psalm 72.15-20.
Pray for the coming of God’s Kingdom and with it, all the promises of His covenant. Pray that Jesus may be exalted and worshiped in all the earth.

Sing Psalm 72.15-20.
(Martyrdom: Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed)
Let Christ be praised, and all the gold of Sheba be His right;
let blessings to His Name be told, and prayers made both day and night.

And let the earth abound with grain, let fields His fame proclaim.
And may our King forever reign and nations bless His great Name.

Now bless the God of Israel Who wondrous works performs.
And bless His Name, His glory tell both now and forevermore!

T. M. and Susie Moore

You can listen to a summary of last week’s Scriptorium study by going to our website,, and clicking theScriptorium tab for last Sunday. You can download any or all the studies in this series on Acts by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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