“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God”
On this week’s Theology Thursday we’ll be looking at the beginning of Romans.
Now, the historical context for this incredible letter was set in circa 56 a.d. Rome. The original recipients for the letter was the church in Rome, and it was most likely sent from Corinth due to Paul’s references to people such as Phoebe (the deliverer of the letter), Gaius, and Erastus who were all associated with Corinth in that day.
Now, enough of the history, let’s get to the verse.
The first word of this letter clearly indicates the writer, “Paul” who, as many believers and scholars alike know, wrote a great portion of the New Testament including Ephesians, Galatians, and many more.
Paul is well known not only for his inspired writings (through the Holy Spirit), but also for his insane devotion to Christ. Having been imprisoned on many occasions, shipwrecked (Acts 27:39-44), beaten by an angry mob (Acts 21:30-31), and eventually martyred during the reign of Nero.
In the next part we see Paul as a “Servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle”.
The Greek word used here, “Doulos”, was the common New Testament word for servant, but Paul, using it in it’s more Hebrew sense, elevates the word to mean a “servant committed to a master he loves and respects”. So Paul identifies Himself as one who is committed to His Lord and Savior, out of love and deep respect.
Now, “apostle” is a widely debated topic, whether they’re still for today, and whether they theoretically can do anything through Christ’s power supernaturally.
But, all controversial thought aside, we’ll look into the context:
“an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God” (v.1)
I believe “set apart” to be the key two words. Because it indicates an exclusivity not easily gained. The definition of it literally being to “select something or someone for a specific purpose”.
In Acts 9:15 we find the answer to whether Paul was an exclusive apostle to be used by Jesus or not:
“But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he [Paul] is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.”
Other references include Acts 22:14, 26:16, and Gal. 1:1. You can also read the account of Paul (or, Saul at that point) on the road to Damascus in Acts 9.
So clearly Paul was set apart by God to do great things in his name, and to write inspired scripture, and to be arguably the single most greatest missionary of all time.
An interesting thing to note is that all of the New Testament was written by or under the auspices of an apostle. (John 14:26)
So clearly, the office of someone writing inspired scripture was very explicitly and unarguably chosen and verified by God in that day, so no one could go running around claiming they had a “new revelation” that would contradict God’s chosen servants and His word.
So clearly, Jesus had exclusive followers who were “One’s who were sent” as the Greek word for Apostle means. And they did incredible things for Christ: lived lives of bravery, but also lives of torture.
But ultimately, they sought Christ to be glorified so others would see how incredible He is and how much better he is than anything this world could ever offer, a forgiving savior who seeks and saves the lost.
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