Rom.1:1 – Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
I like to stop and take notice of the little things Paul said at the beginning and ending of his letters. On second thought those little things may be quite important when we see them from God’s perspective. Paul almost always made mention that he was called to be an apostle in the beginning of his letters. I think some of us may have the wrong idea of what a biblical apostle even is. Here is the definition from Dick Mills.
“A special messenger, a delegate, one commissioned for a particular task or role, one who is sent forth with a message. In the NT the word denotes both the original twelve disciples and prominent leaders outside the Twelve. Marvin Vincent records three features of an apostle: 1) one who has had a visible encounter with the resurrected Christ; 2) one who plants churches; 3) one who functions in the ministry with signs, wonders, and miracles.”
The literal meaning of the word apostle is ‘one who is sent’. So in this short greeting Paul says two extremely important things. He says He is called by God. The implication is that his role as an apostle wasn’t his choice, he was selected to be an apostle by the Lord. The second thing we learn is that Paul was set apart. He was called out of his culture and old relationships into a whole new world. So Paul was called and set apart.
Now lets think about the word apostle and see if there is something in that for each of us. Look at how Barclay describes this apostolic calling.
“He had received a task. He was set apart to be the apostle to the Gentiles. Paul knew himself to be chosen not for special honor but for special responsibility. He knew that God had set him apart, not for glory but for toil. It may well be that there is a play on words here.”
Now you may not be called as an apostle in the preaching and ministry gift part but in a sense we are all apostolic. He has separated and called each of us to a particular task. Paul was called to open the non-jewish world to the gospel, you and I have a distinct calling as well. It may be to your neighborhood, your school, your family, or your cluster of friends and co-workers. We are also called, separated and sent to God’s apostolic ministry.