Last time, after laying the groundwork with several introduction articles (get caught up here), we finally got our foot in the door and began exploring Romans – chapter 1, verse 1. Our emphasis was on the interesting thought that before Paul said anything of significance to the believers at Rome about God or about himself, he wanted them to know that his most valued attribute was that he was Christ’s servant. He was a “doulos of Christ Jesus”. He was a slave to sin before he met Jesus, and now that Jesus had set him free he had made the conscious decision to willingly and wholeheartedly lay down his will to serve him. As a matter of fact, Paul had laid down his life – his entire being – spirit, soul, body, mind, will, and emotions. He lived and breathed Jesus Christ and him crucified, and gave all of himself to serve him and make him known to the world. Two thousand years later we are still reaping the benefits of this man’s love and obedience for Christ.
Now the next thing we want to consider in this first verse is that Paul is not only a servant of Christ Jesus, he is a called apostle as well. When you hear the word apostle, what do you think of? Most think of Christ’s original twelve disciples whom he trained up during his earthly ministry to carry his message to the world. This is definitely the context Paul is using here. He has made it clear that he includes himself among their number, even though he did not walk with Christ during that time. The Complete WordStudy Dictionary explains that the Greek word apostolos:
“was the distinctive name of the Twelve Apostles originally (Mat_10:2; Luk_6:13; Luk_9:10; Luk_22:14; Rev_21:14) or the eleven later, with whom Paul himself was reckoned, as he says in 1Co_15:7, 1Co_15:9; Act_1:26. Paul justified his being counted as an apostle by the fact that he had been called to the office by Christ Himself.”
Let’s get some more details as to the meaning of this word as taken from Thayers Greek Dictionary.
Finally, an Apostle can be called an Ambassador and a “sent one”, sent with the authority of Jesus himself to be one of his witnesses to the world.
So taken together we can come up with this summary.
“An Apostle is an ambassador, called by Jesus Christ and sent forth with orders to represent his kingdom and make his message known to the world. Historically, it denotes the original twelve Disciples of Christ as well as the Apostle Paul, but also applied to other teachers in the early church.”
The Apostleship of the Believer
Historically and up to our present day there have been questions and debates regarding the continuity of the office of the Apostle. Some say that in no place were the churches instructed to ordain apostles and therefore the office ended with that original generation. However, a strong argument to the contrary can be made by citing Ephesians 4:11-16 which explains that apostles, along with prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are key essential elements that must be present for proper building of the Body of Christ.
It’s beyond the scope of this particular message to attempt to prove one view-point over the other. It’s definitely a good topic for discussion, however I don’t believe it’s an issue that should breed contention. There are people who love and serve Jesus with all their heart on both sides of the debate!
“if you name the name of Christ, you personally have been given the ministry of apostleship.”
So the point I’d like to make has more to do with what I call the Apostleship of the Believer. This statement means that if you name the name of Christ, you personally have been given the ministry of apostleship. Here are four things that are true of you, if you are a follower of Christ:
1. You are an Ambassador; a Delegate; a Representative
An Ambassador is a high-ranking authorized representative or messenger who represents his or her own government while living in another country. When we became Christians an amazing thing happened. The Bible says at that moment God “delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” ~Col 1:13 Although our physical location stayed the same, our spiritual citizenship was instantly changed. As such, we get the honor to represent our new government to the people still under our old government. What a marvelous and beautiful picture we have here!
2. You are set forth with orders
We are on a mission. Actually it is a Co-mission, hence the title “The Great Commission.” Right before he ascended to heaven, Jesus made it very clear that he had work for his people to do. Matthew 28:16-20 is one place where Jesus’ last instructions to his followers appear. The bottom line is that he wants to partner with us, he wants to use us to help others make the same transfer from darkness to light as we have. The great thing is that he doesn’t tell us to do it in our own strength but that he will empower us as we partner with him. So he has set you forth with this order “I am with you!”
3. Your message is life-changing and world-changing
The gospel, as we will see it unfold throughout our study of Romans, is the life-giving all-encompassing message the world desperately needs. It not only has God’s power, in Romans 1:16 we see that it is God’s power. It brings salvation to everyone who believes, which as we have discussed previously is mankind’s biggest need.
4. You have delegated authority and power
When a person becomes a Christian, they receive many things. One of the most powerful and yet underused is the privilege of prayer. Someone has well said that prayer can do everything that God can do. When we partner with God through the avenue of prayer, we become a “change agent”. Because of your access to God you have the awesome privilege and responsibility to change your world.
Question for reflection
How does God want to use you to change the world? What steps will you take in that direction?
As always, thanks for visiting and reading! My prayer for you this week is that God will bless you exceedingly, abundantly, above what you may ask, hope, or even think 🙂