Paul is a Slave Name

Keith posted a while ago here on why ministers wore a unique sort of collar – it’s supposed to represent the slavery of the pastor. Elsewhere I’ve read that the word “minister” itself derives from a late-Latin word meaning servant or slave. I’ve also been pondering for a while now about Paul’s name change. In the first bit of Acts he’s “Saul” and then, somewhat after his conversion (but around the time of his first public ministry) in Acts 13:9 this crops up:

“Then Saul, who was also called Paul”

That’s it, after that he’s called Paul just about all the way through, it’s not like Abram getting told by the Almighty that his new name was Abraham or anything like that. Why would Saul/Paul change to this other alias? Here’s a guess based on what I recall from Roman history classes in undergrad and some other clues in Acts:

Paul isn’t a Jewish name, it isn’t in the OT anywhere, it is a Roman name though, you see the name “Paulus” in lots of places in the Roman world, indeed even in Acts 13, the chapter I quoted above, there is a governor whose cognomen is Paulus. Now why would a Jew have a Roman name? Well, if a Roman freed a slave and conferred citizenship on him, that slave took the Roman’s family name, sort of as a tribute to the goodness of the Roman who bothered to manumit said slave.

Paul was born a Roman citizen, which makes me think that his father or grandfather was a slave freed by one of the members of the Paullus branch of the Aemilius family. Repulsed by his background as the son of a slave, I suspect that Paul was all too eager to ditch his slave name (i.e.: “Paul”) and run with the good Jewish name of Saul. It’s interesting that as he begins his ministry he reverts to the slave name.

Does this narrative of Paul’s back-story make sense to anyone else? If so, what does it mean (if anything)?