The Apostle Paul … and Me
If asked, could you describe the Apostle Paul?
I am betting the odds are pretty good you can, especially if you have spent much time reading the New Testament of the Bible or attending a Bible-preaching church.
What words would you use to capture his personality?
Bold. Outspoken. Unafraid. Unashamed. Demanding of self and others. Vibrant. Energetic. Intense. Strong. Charismatic. Verbose. Wise. Opinionated. Focused.
Those are just a few of the many words that immediately pop into my mind. No doubt … Paul was an incredible giant of the faith. His leadership did much to propel the message of Jesus Christ from the dusty streets of Jerusalem to the far corners of the ancient world. His influence continues to this day for he authored 13 books in the Bible, words which spell out how a follower of Christ should live life on everything from marriage and children to giving and church leadership.
But there is another aspect to Paul that intrigues me … his self-introductions. You find them in every New Testament book he authored, right at the beginning, yet another testament to his bold personality. The words of introduction found in each book are similar and yet different, telling who he is, on what authority he speaks, and occasionally what compels him to continue his mission for Christ.
For example, in his letter to Philemon, Paul referred to himself as a “prisoner of Christ Jesus.” In other letters, he used the word “slave.”
Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus … Philippians 1:1
Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus … Romans 1:1
Paul often identified himself as an apostle, which in the Greek refers to “one who is sent away with a message” … rather like an ambassador.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will … Colossians 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will for the promise of life in Christ Jesus … 2 Timothy 1:1
Paul, called as an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will … 1 Corinthians 1:1
I love Paul’s introductions found in his letter to the church of Galatia for he plainly states his authority to speak and write come only from Jesus Christ. Basically, Paul says that he doesn’t care what men might think of him, for he is only concerned about following what God has called him to do.
Paul, an apostle — NOT from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead … Galatians 1:1
I think my favorite of all of Paul’s introductions is the one is his letter to Titus. It reads like this:
Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to BUILD UP THE FAITH of God’s elect and THEIR KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH that leads to godliness, in the hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began. In His own time He has revealed His message in the proclamation that I was entrusted with by the command of God our Savior.
Paul leaves no doubt about who he was, what mission he was given, and by whose authority he is qualified to write and speak.
Has there ever been a follower as effective in personal mission as the Apostle Paul?
I would certainly be hard-pressed to name one. Perhaps part of his ability to be so effective was that Paul truly knew who he was in Christ. He realized the calling for his mission, his ability to perform at a high standard, and even the authority on which he stood all came from one source … God Almighty. He was “singled out” (Romans 1:1), “called” (1 Corinthians 1:1; Romans 1:1) and “an apostle by command” (1 Timothy 1:1). Paul recognized who he was, and he was able to define it in words for himself and the world.
As a Christ follower, I’m also part of a mission … The Great Commission. I even believe that God has given me a much more personal mission as wife, mother and writer. Lately, I’ve been pondering if I really understand my calling from God. What if I’ve misheard God? Maybe I’m not really qualified to do His work? I certainly don’t have a seminary degree or special letters behind my name announcing my qualifications.
This morning I found myself pouring over the New Testament, finding all of Paul’s letters, reading his words of introduction announcing who he is and why he writes. The thought crossed my mind that perhaps Paul repeatedly gave his qualifications not just for the benefit of others, but also to remind himself of his own mission to serve God, the calling he received on the Damascus Road.
As a writer, I wondered what might happen if I wrote my own Paul-like introduction. Could I even put into words what I hope I know God is asking me to do for His purposes and glory? Could I share it, not to brag or boast, but to define for myself why I am here and what exactly I am called to do?
In the end, I decided to accept my writing challenge. It did boost my self-esteem and confidence, reminded me of times when I heard God’s calling loud and clear in my life. I’d like to share my final version.
Paige, blessed to be the wife of Jon and mother of five by God’s will, and called by the Savior and Creator of the world to write and speak words of encouragement in order to increase the faith of women who long to find God on a daily basis, even if the mundane parts of life. No longer held a prisoner to sin and fears, but rather a servant, eager to work for the King of Kings.
Perhaps I’ll redefine later on, but for now just writing down these words has given me a clearer idea of what it is the God wants most for me to do with my life.
What would you write if you had to define your purpose and calling for God?
I’d love to read the thoughts and ideas of my readers so that I may have the privilege of praying for you to do well in your own missions for God.