At our Monday morning Bible Study, we have been going through the leader’s end times teachings and thoughts for the last three years. I conservatively tell people that it was a solid two year period, just to be on the safe side. Several of us formed a spin-off group and would meet on Wednesdays for coffee with the intent of discussing some of the fallacies we had encountered the previous Monday.
Because of the fallacies, I found myself buried in end-times teachings almost continuously. Now that is not a bad thing, and my local group deemed me the expert. Expert was hardly the case, but I would answer questions as best I could, and thanks to the Holy Spirit, they were usually correct answers. There is a distinct satisfaction when you see the impact as the Holy Spirit is the teacher (and yes, he uses people.) I suppose what I noticed the most was that I was missing my journeys through the letters of Paul, Peter, James, and John.
One of those topics became evident as I began to read through Paul’s letter to the believers in the region of Galatia (We call it the book of Galatians.)
Galatians 1:6-9 KJV I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7) Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9) As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
As you can see, there is an emphasis on a gospel message. Since the word gospel the Greek word for good news, then you have to ask, what was the good news to these people Paul preached to? If we were to trek through the book of Acts, we would find that for years, the first place Paul went when he came into a village, was the synagogue. It is easy to presume and correctly so, that Paul preached this good news to the Jews he found there. Since the Jews were the holders of the promises of God, you would think that they already had the good news, and they did, but they also had the law; a collection of laws that were enhanced by the addition of man-made laws designed to control the people.
To a people who may have realized they were entrapped by man’s laws, this message of grace and mercy was a Godsend. If you heard Paul’s words and allowed them to change you, how could you, or would you go back to the bondage that man and his hierarchy bring? Truth be known, you wouldn’t have, unless, you had been deceived in some way. And that seems to be the basis of this letter.
Galatians 1:1 NASB Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead),
“Paul an apostle – See the note at Rom_1:1. This is the usual form in which he commences his epistles, and it was of special importance to commence the Epistle in this manner because it was one design to vindicate his apostleship, or to show that he had received his commission directly from the Lord Jesus.” [Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible]
Romans 1:1 NASB Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
From John Gill’s commentary on Romans 1:1 – “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,…. The name of the author of this epistle is Paul, who formerly was called Saul. Some think his name was changed upon his own conversion; others, upon the conversion of the Roman deputy Sergius Paulus, Act_13:7; others, that he was so called from the littleness of his stature; but rather it should seem that he had two names, which was usual with the Jews; one by which they went among the Gentiles, and another by they were called in their own land; See Gill on Act_13:9. ” [I show you the Complete Jewish Bible translation.]
Acts 13:9 CJB Then Sha’ul, also known as Paul, filled with the Ruach HaKodesh, stared straight at him and said,
The Jewish translation took on a new meaning to me recently as I was trying to find some background information on Matthew 24:36 and I came across this website, http://www.hebroots.org/hebrootsarchive/9807/980715_c.html. In explaining about the New Moon at the beginning of the Jewish New Year, this comes up:
“In Y’shua’s day, the moon was so important that a Jewish festival was proclaimed at the beginning of every month (Talmud Tractate Chaggigah 17b;
Shavuot 10a; Arachin 10b). This was called the New Moon Festival and in the B’rit Chadashah, Rabbi Sha’ul (Paul) makes note of it (Colossians 2:16).”
Almost Instantly I gained an understanding of Paul’s impact on the Messianic Jewish community.
Gill’s comments on Acts 13:9 – Then Saul (who also is called Paul),… He was called by both these names; as he was a Jew by birth, his parents called him Saul, that was his Jewish name, and by which he went among the Jews; and as he was a citizen of a Roman city, Tarsus in Cilicia, he went among the Romans, or Gentiles, by the name of Paul, a Roman name; and it was usual with the Jews to be called after this manner, that is, to have one name among themselves, and another among the Gentiles: it is a rule with them (n), that “the Israelites out of the land, their names are as the names of the Gentiles;” yea, their names differed in Judea and Galilee; a woman went by one name in Judea, and another in Galilee (o): and it is observable, that Luke calls the apostle by his Jewish name Saul, whilst he was among the Jews, and only preached among them; but now he is got among the Gentiles, and was about to appear openly to be their apostle, he all along hereafter calls him by his Gentile name Paul: though some think his name was changed upon his conversion, as it was usual with Jewish penitents to do; when a man repented of his sin, he changed his name (says Maimonides) (p),”
Although we do not see the phrase, a servant of Jesus Christ, here in the first verse, the idea is there cloaked in the expression, “but through Jesus Christ and God the Father.”
More from Gill, “A servant of Jesus Christ”; not a servant of sin, nor of Satan, nor of man, nor of Moses and his law, nor of the traditions of the elders, but of Jesus Christ; and not by creation only, but by redemption, and by powerful efficacious grace in conversion; which is no ways contrary to true liberty; nor a disgraceful, but a most honourable character; and which chiefly regards him as a minister of the Gospel:
Being a servant of Jesus Christ is the simplest aspect of this introduction, but Paul added another characteristic when noted that he was “an apostle, sent by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead.”
Gill explains, “called to be an apostle”: an apostle was one that was immediately sent by Christ, and had his authority and doctrine directly from him, and had a power of working miracles from him, in confirmation of the truth of his mission, authority, and doctrine; all which were to be found in the author of this epistle, who did not thrust himself into this office, or take this honour to himself, of which he always judged himself unworthy, but was “called” to it according to the will, and by the grace of God:”
In my naivete, wrote: All this introduction seems like an unusual and unnecessary proclamation, but, having spoken before a large audiences, you realize it carries much weight when they have an idea of who you are and what your credentials are.
Credentials, by the way, often come through the acceptance of someone trusted who bears witness to why you should be standing before this group.
At the church I attend, we had a man come and give his testimony. The unnerving aspect of this was that he had formerly produced pornography, and not that long ago. Fortunately for him, someone vouched for him and pastor trusted that he would be alright.
Give some thought to how Jesus was received when He said things not so dissimilar to Paul’s introduction. The pharisees were willing to stone Paul and did one occasion. Jesus got come backs like, “we know who are father is!” [John 8:39-41 KJV]. The implications of this heinous statement were quickly understood, as this all fell back to Mary, His mother. With a backbone of steel, she stood her ground and insisted that God was His Father. How much easier it would have been to say, Joseph was the father, but he wasn’t and she and Joseph both knew that. The result of her holding her ground was a hellish amount of opposition, and this caustic comeback was proof of that.
While there are few, if any, Apostles today, in spite of fact that many like to be called by that title, there are an uncountable number of people who have been sent on small, seemingly insignificant personal assignments. Without the fame and acclaim that comes with a title, we ignore them, and, in some cases ridicule them.
apostolos; from G649; a messenger, one sent on a mission, an apostle: – apostle (19), apostles (52), apostles’ (5), messenger (1), messengers (1), is sent (1).
Paul, in Romans 1, described himself as a servant. Since a servant can also be a messenger, or, one sent, then apostolos fits.
Having spent most of my life in religion I can tell that I have seen it all. At one church I attended, popular prophetic evangelists came to the church and made a big deal about our pastor, pronouncing that he was an Apostle. Apparently because he planted a church and it happened to grow. I just thought he was a pretty cool guy that would ride motorcycles with us. Without all the accolades we too have been sent; some, too large audiences and some to individuals. It makes no difference the size of the crowd, as long as you did your job.