masc. proper name, Biblical name of the apostle to the Gentiles, from Latin Paulum (nominative Paulus), Roman surname of the Aemilian gens, literally "small," from PIE *pau-ro-lo-, from base *pau- (1) "few, little" (see few). Cf. Old French Pol, Italian Paolo, Spanish Pablo, Russian Pavel.
Ancient Christian preacher and teacher; along with the Apostle Peter, one of the foremost leaders of the early Christian Church. Paul, originally called Saul, was at first an enemy and persecutor of the early Christians. As he rode to Damascus one day, seeking to suppress the Christians there, a strong light from heaven blinded him, and God spoke to him; after this experience, Saul became a Christian. Going by the Greek name Paul, he spent the rest of his life bringing the gospel to the peoples of the ancient world. The New Testament includes his many epistles (letters) to the early Christian communities.