This Is My Life!
I love to read biographies, and especially autobiographies. There is something thrilling about reading a first person narrative of the events of a life. History is littered with notable examples; ‘The diary of a young girl’ by Anne Frank; Nelson Mandela's ‘Long walk to freedom;’ or more recently, ‘Dreams from my father' by Barack Obama. Whatever you think of these personally, they have sold many copies and had influence where they have been read.
In many ways, much of the New Testament epistles, coupled with the latter part of the book of the Acts, form an interesting and exciting biography of the life and exploits of the apostle Paul. Carefully documented by doctor Luke, we have an outline of his murderous pre-conversion days, the marvellous interjection of the Lord Jesus on the Damascus road, and the suffering and persecution he experienced in his endeavour to spread the gospel.
But if ever there was a summary of who the Apostle Paul thought he was, then this is it;
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.” (Ro. 1:1)
In these 17, autobiographical words, we have everything we need to know about this godly man. Firstly, his new name, Paul, reminds us that he was a new man. It is likely that Paul always had two names, one for use with the Jews and one for the Gentiles. But what is certain, is that the Holy Spirit didn’t see fit to use the name Paul, until after he was saved and preaching the gospel. Could it be that Paul wanted a clean break with the past? That he knew he was now ‘a new creation' and that ‘old things had passed away?’ (2 Co. 5:17). As a new creation he now had a responsibility to ‘put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness’ (Eph. 4:24).
But not only was he a new man, he also had a new master: ‘a servant (bondslave) of Jesus Christ.’ This new master had liberated him from the bondage of his sin (Rom 6), and the fear of death (Heb 2), and also the requirement to keep the law (Rom 7), to the extent that he considered himself now enslaved to Jesus Christ (1 Co. 9:21). Later in this epistle he tells the Romans, that they had become ‘dead to the law…that they might be married to another’ (Ro. 7:4). What glorious truth! We are bondslaves of Jesus Christ, and He is the least onerous of all masters.
Next he says, I’m ‘called to be an apostle.’ As an apostle he had seen the risen Lord and had been given a specific ministry to the Gentiles, ‘as one born out of due time.’ But this great work had been given to him by divine calling. He had been called and fitted for the work. He was not self-styled, or self-promoted. He had a work from God that he must do, and driven by this new motive he had a reason to get up every day and praise God in the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles.
Finally, he says, I’m ‘separated unto the gospel of God.’ The word means to ‘fence off by creating a boundary,’ and it is the word from which we get our English word ‘horizon.’ When God called Paul, He set him apart 'for the purpose of' (unto) the preaching of the gospel; He gave him a new message.
In these four descriptions, Paul tells us all we need to know about Him, and fittingly, it is all about God, and His Son Jesus Christ. But let us remember that we are to put on the new man, that we have a new master, a new motive and a new message, and equipped with these we are charged to go into all the world and ‘preach the gospel.’ Paul knew all about this. Well might he say, ‘I have finished the course’ (2 Ti. 4:6).
Mervyn Hall is in fellowship with his wife in the assembly that meets in Hebron Gospel Hall in Bicester (UK) and is employed as a business consultant to the Healthcare industry.