“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,”
The first two verses of the book of Colossians comprise the salutation.
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ”
Paul does not begin his epistles with customary introductions of our day. Salutations of our day are irrelevant. We begin a business letter with the term “Gentlemen” and yet we know that there is not a gentleman in the whole crowd! We write, “Dear Sir,” when we know that they are neither “dear” nor “Sir!!” We cannot start a letter with “Hey, you” either!!
The name “Paul” means “little.” If there was anyone who could call himself “Mr. big,” it was the apostle Paul. He was the greatest missionary of the first century. He was one of the great men of his day. In Judaism he had a promising career. He was a Pharisee. He was the outstanding persecutor of the church. He ran out of victims in Jerusalem so he went to Damascus to capture more Christians, “Then Saul (Paul), still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2). He was on his way to murder the disciples in Damascus.
On that road to Damascus he met the risen Lord and received Jesus Christ as his Savior. As a Christian he spread the gospel to the Gentile Roman world. The Lord Jesus ruined his previous career of killing Christians! One look at Jesus and it changed everything in his life. Jesus’ worst enemy became his greatest emissary.
Paul was not one of the 12 original Apostles. One qualification for apostleship was seeing Jesus. He saw the risen Christ (I Cor. 9:1; 15:8-9). God gave him miraculous powers to authenticate his apostleship (II Cor. 12:12; Heb. 2:3-4).
The word “apostle” conveys the idea of special commission from God. The apostle was under a divine commission to found the church and write Scripture. This is the highest ranking gift in the Bible. There are no more apostles today. No one has the right to write Scripture. This gift, as all gifts, can only be bestowed by the sovereignty of Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation (I Cor. 12:11,13).
Paul was the human author of Scripture but the Holy Spirit was the divine author, “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (II Pet 1:20). This does not mean that the human author mechanically writes Scripture with little or no input from his person. It means that the Holy Spirit guides every word he writes to accurately convey what God wants to communicate to man.
Paul was Christ’s apostle. He was not the church’s apostle. He was a special emissary on special divine assignment from Christ (John 17:18). He took his marching orders from Jesus Christ.
When Jesus Christ fills our horizon, we can do nothing else but serve him.
When we truly meet the Lord Jesus we lose interest in pleasing self. The greatest thing that can happen to a young person is to meet the Lord Jesus young enough that they can give their entire life to the Lord. Boy friends, girl friends, cars, career do not compare with knowing and serving him (Phil. 3:10). When we devote our lives to the Son of God, we live no lives of regret.
Paul makes his commitment clear in I Cor. 9:16,17, “Or if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” He said, “I must preach the gospel whether I want to do it or not. whether it is convenient or not, I have no choice.” God is no cruel task master. He is a wonderful master who gives us a sense of satisfaction when we serve him. Paul did not quit. He served to the best of his ability which is all God asks. This kind of commitment gives us direction, point and purpose. We keep our drive no matter what opposition may come our way.