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How did Paul fetch out the followers of Jesus in Acts 9?

I've always thought that it was simply their practice of calling on the name of the Lord (precisely "Jesus") aloud as the phrase "calling on the name" is mentioned twice there: firstly when Ananias is telling the Lord about Saul's persecuting early Christians:

And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. (Acts 9:14 KJV)

secondly when , while Saul was preaching about Jesus in a synagogue, the listeners were amazed by that:

But all that heard [him] were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? (Acts 9:21 KJV)

Later in the book of Acts we are given some additional information to chapter 9 - Ananias also asked Saul to call o the name of the Lord when he was baptizing Saul:

And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord (Acts 22:16 KJV)

However, I just found out that the phrase "to call on the name of the Lord" may have little to do with literal naming - but rather could be merely a figure of speech.

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migrated from Jan 9 '12 at 20:46

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Using (or calling on) the name of Jesus was a sign of his early followers. It was both a literal term (in that Christians used the name to perform miracles) and figurative one (as it strongly identifies Jesus' followers).

It's probable that this way of identifying believers comes from the first volume of Luke-Acts:

John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”—Luke 9:49-50 (ESV)

(It's not obvious from the way the New Testament is commonly arraigned, but Acts and Luke were written by Luke on commission from Theophilus. Acts 1:1-2 explicitly labels itself as a sequel.)

Luke is repeating an even earlier tradition that's recorded in Mark:

John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us. For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.—Mark 9:38-41 (ESV)

The context of this particular story seems to be someone (who was not part of the disciples' group) using the name "Jesus" to perform miracles. We see an examples of this practice a number of times in Acts, including:

But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”—Acts 3:6 (ESV)

Peter emphasizes in Acts 3:16, that the man was healed "by faith in [Jesus'] name". It seems that this very act was what prompted the Jewish leaders to later give Saul the authority to bind believers:

On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”—Acts 4:5-12 (ESV)

While the actual case was about a man healed using the words "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth...", the concern of the Jewish leaders was whether the healing was powered by God or by some demonic force. The conclusion of the trial was that the leaders "called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus." (Acts 4:18 ESV) So this seems to be more figurative: using the name of Jesus as a sign of authority.

The passage you mainly ask about is instructive in the way that it uses the word name:

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”—Acts 9:10-16 (ESV)

It seems that the primary sense of the word, as used here, is to identify someone or something. Therefore, the primary sense of "calling on the name of the Lord" is to identify someone as part of the group who follows Jesus.

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Inductive study of the phrase "call(s/ed) upon the name of the Lord," brings much to light.

**Acts 2:16 shows that Acts 2:21 is a quote from Joel 2 and that YHWH is actually the name called upon.

16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 17 'And it shall be in the last days,' God says, 'That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, And your old men shall dream dreams; 18 Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit And they shall prophesy. 19 'And I will grant wonders in the sky above And signs on the earth below, Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke. 20 'The sun will be turned into darkness And the moon into blood, Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come. 21 'And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'

We know that the Old Testament translators replace the actual name "YHWH" with "the LORD" (see Strong's #3068)

Thus Joel 2:32 actually says,

"And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of YHWH Will be delivered . . ."

Thus we know see it is actually, whoever calls upon the name YHWH will be saved.

This passage in Joel is again quoted in Romans 10:13
for "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved."

This act of calling upon the name of YHWH is recorded often in the OT:

Genesis 4:26 To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the YHWH.

Genesis 12:8 Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the YHWH.

Genesis 13:4 to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of YHWH.

Gen 21:33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he called on the name of YHWH, the Everlasting God.

Genesis 26:25 So he built an altar there and called upon the name of YHWH, and pitched his tent there; and there Isaac's servants dug a well.

Exodus 34:5 The LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of YHWH.

1 Kings 18:24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of YHWH, and the God who answers by fire, He is God." And all the people said, "That is a good idea."

2 Kings 5:11 But Naaman was furious and went away and said, "Behold, I thought, 'He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the YHWH his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.'

Lamentations 3:55 I called on Your name, O YHWH, Out of the lowest pit.

Zephaniah 3:9 "For then I will give to the peoples purified lips, That all of them may call on the name of the YHWH, To serve Him shoulder to shoulder.

We see from Psalms 116:4, that they were literally calling on His name!

Psalms 116:4 Then I called upon the name of YHWH: "O YHWH, I beseech You, save my life!"

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