Credentials and Documents

“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle,
separated unto the gospel of God”
(Romans 1:1).

Paul begins his letter to the Romans by presenting his credentials as a “bondservant,” “apostle,” and one who is “set apart.”

Paul as a bondservant. The word “servant” in the original Greek has a much stronger meaning than the one we use today. It literally means “slave.” It is believed that there were three million slaves in the Roman Empire. Slaves were considered objects rather than persons. They could be bought and sold. Slaves had no rights and were subjected completely to the dominion of their master.

In Paul’s case it was not a specific master, nor the Caeser. It was Christ, the true Lord of the universe, whom he served by choice and in loving dependece. Paul uses this expression several times in the epistles, and even applies it to all believers who belong to Christ: “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men” (1 Cor. 7:23; see also 6:20).

Paul as an apostle. In contrast with his previous credentials, he also uses the one as “apostle.” This means that he had been sent as a messenger and has authority to accomplish a special mission. The emperors and kings had their emissaries and representatives. Only one who had seen Christ could become an apostle. Paul saw Christ on the way to Damascus and it was there that Christ called him to be “an apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:13; cf 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11).

Paul as one set apart. This means he was “separate from others.” When he was a Jewish rabbi (teacher), he was “set apart” as a Pharisee to specialize in Jewish laws and traditions. But when he surrendered to Christ, he was set apart for the gospel and its ministry. “Gospel” means “good news”: that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and resurrected; and now He can save all those who trust in Him.

For a Roman citizen to present themselves as a servant or slave was something utterly inconceivable, but Paul preferred to present himself this way. This credential, for him, was more than a duty: it was an honor. Since that noonday in Damascus, when he had been on his knees to ask the Lord what He wished him to do, he continued asking the same question every day and going, or not going, according to where the Lord led him; doing, or stopping what he was doing, according to God’s will – whether on the road, on a ship, a church, or in a jail.

With joy and faith, Paul was an obedient servant,
an apostle to carry out the mission, and one set apart
to live within and for the gospel.
Can you kneel right now? Can you elevate your mind
to God in prayer? Do you dare to ask,
“Lord, what do You want me to do?”?
Do it right now. God will answer you…

How obedient are we? God bless you…