Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, a called apostle, separated to the gospel of God
I have heard many arguments against Paul being a true apostle of God. I'm thinking that Paul was not thinking about his old name Saul which has a nuance of being called for. No... I am thinking that Paul was a true blue Apostle with a capital letter A. Although, Paul had to defend himself and the title because, it seems that many in his day refuted his claim to the title else why would he write, 1 Corinthians 9:1 Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen our Lord Jesus Christ? Are you not my work in the Lord?
Jesus sought him out. Paul tells us this when he gives his testimony in Acts 9. Saul was on the road to Damascus breathing fire and brimstone with murder in his heart for Christians. Jesus found him on this road. (The Light). Jesus spoke to Him. "… Arise and go into the city, and you shall be told what you must do." Jesus sent Ananias to Paul, Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to him, Go! For this one is a chosen vessel to Me, to bear My name before nations and kings and the sons of Israel. Therefore he was to be sent on a mission, to be an emissary, a messenger.
Apostle literally means "sent one, a messenger, an envoy, ambassador of the Gospel, a commissioner of Christ". Men down through the ages have given it that a real Apostle was taught by Jesus in person. Most people give the 12 disciples the title Apostle and hold back from giving that title to anyone else today because of this. Yet, Jesus was given the title in Hebrews
3:1 For this reason, holy brothers, called to be partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,
So, do you think it is for this reason that no one today is called an apostle – because it is too lofty a position to be held by us mere mortals? The meaning is the same for missionary, but semantics have encroached upon all our definitions as well as the “modernizations” of language.
However, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:9 that he wasn't sufficient to be called an apostle because he persecuted God's assembly. He gave it a higher standard than the literal definition. I can’t help but think he may have had John the Baptist in mind as well as many prophets of old. John was called from before birth. He recognized Jesus before he was born. How marvelous that little passage is Luke 1:41 the babe in Elizabeth's womb leaped when Mary spoke. How exciting that is.
But then, it is really interesting, Paul says in Galatians that he is an apostle not from men nor through a man but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead. That is an incredible amount of power there.
I'm thinking it most likely is not semantics in this passage, but a definition of an apostle that transcends what we think or propose to think. Something in the neighborhood of "This is a done deal by God and who can undo any work that I AM does?"
...SEPARATED TO THE GOSPEL OF GOD, Romans 1:2 which He promised before through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son who came of the seed of David according to flesh, 4 who was marked out the Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord;
Separated to the good message, the good news, of God. Separated means: Set off by a boundary, also exclude, divide, appoint. When I look at this I see a goodly portion of Paul's teaching summed up in a few words. The Divine message sets us apart from the world and Paul used a lot of words to tell the Corinthians, the Galatians, the Ephesians and even Titus and Timothy this. He reminded Philemon this as well.
Paul recognized there is a huge difference between the secular world and the Kingdom of God of which we are citizens, being merely sojourners in the secular world. He didn’t exactly harp on the theme, yet he certainly made sure that it was expressed in several different ways.
Romans 1:2 WHICH HE PROMISED BEFORE THROUGH HIS PROPHETS in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son who came of the seed of David according to flesh, 4 who was marked out the Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection of the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord;
This is huge. Only God has proven to be the most accurate future-teller. God didn’t just pop the plan out of a think tank and then stand back to watch events unfold. God promised ages before that His Son would come, and that there would be resurrection of the dead… and it came to pass. Paul reminds us at every turn how faithful God is, was and always will be. This encouragement also riddles his writings. I often wondered why Paul's writings had such long sentences. It seems to me that he has a sermon in every phrase. Each phrase he wrote has a tremendous sermon and is full of meat that satisfies the soul. Amen.
Paul calls attention to the fact that Jesus was in the beginning, only in terms that mortals could understand straight away. He recalls to mind those prophecies (which I am sure that He taught to the Romans), and he gives a huge degree of authority to the Gospel simply because it was written in Scripture many years before.
How fascinating that different men, both contemporary as well as from different ages, told the story in bits and pieces, then when it was time for it to all unfold, the whole thing made complete sense. I am constantly amazed at my LORD God, who is so meticulous to explain each nuance of the greatest story ever told.
Even though Paul speaks with all the authority that Jesus gave him three days after he saw the light on the road to Damascus, he still points toward Scripture, and the prophets of ancient days. It is an excellent lesson that we sometimes seem to forget, but Scripture really is the final authority.
Paul then reminds the Romans that Jesus is exactly who God says He is and points out that He was resurrected. That, my friends, seems to be the Essential of belief.
Romans 1:5 BY WHOM WE RECEIVED GRACE AND APOSTLESHIP TO OBEDIENCE OF FAITH among all the nations, for His name's sake, 6 among whom are you also, called-out ones of Jesus Christ;
Uh-oh... does Paul actually say we received grace and apostleship? Was he using a Royal We?
Why did our church forefathers dictate a distinction for the word Apostle? The Apostles were gifted with incredible gifts which they used to plant as many churches as would receive them. But, also lest we forget, the Apostles also had extreme faith in the power of God. They also had obedience as their number one priority. Their commission was to spread the Gospel, as they went about their daily tasks, to make disciples, to baptize them, to teach them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Do we truly keep that first in our priority list? Do we truly teach in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Please excuse me a moment. I must go change my shoes for I have stomped all over my own toes.
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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