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WILL THE REAL APOSTLES PLEASE STAND UP?

          This is a relatively short comment of some of the characteristics observed by reading the salutation by Paul to the Romans in the book of the same name with some insights from his writings to the Corinthians and to the church at Ephesus. It’s not necessarily complete or definitive. Just an observation of some of the more obvious traits of Paul the apostle.

Prologue

          Before discussing Romans (and some other scriptures) it’s important to note that according to scripture:

The Apostle Will Have Had A Personal Encounter With Christ

The Apostle’s Personal Encounter With Christ Will Be Witnessed By Others

The Apostle’s Godly Call Will Be Confirmed By Another Disciple Of Christ

          (Acts 9:3-19; Acts 22:6-21; Acts 26:12-20; 1 Corinthians 9:1; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8)

The Apostle Will Be An Able Teacher To The Body Of Christ

          (Acts 11:25,26; 13:1; 15:35; 18:9-11; 20:16-20; Colossians 1:27,28; 1 Timothy 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11.)

Overview To Paul’s Salutation To The Romans

          Paul lays a heavy emphasis upon terms that will communicate his total commitment and devotion to Jesus. He then makes it clear to the reader that he has authority to speak on the behalf of Christ because of his call by God for that task by God’s will, through Jesus and God the Father, and not of men, and through the commandment of God.
          It is understood that the Apostles of the Lamb, referred to as the “Twelve” are unique in biblical history. The term “apostle” is also used in the New Testament in a more general sense of one who is sent. However, here Paul makes it clear that he is specially gifted to communicate revelation from God and that the churches have a responsibility to hear him as he has the authority to do so.
          Paul also notes his being set apart, i.e., limited to the Gospel, by God in his calling. He thoroughly defines the Gospel as the work of Christ in God’s plan for the salvation of mankind.
          He lays stress upon the fact that his Gospel springs from the Old Testament and is supported by it. This is critical in discussing the Law and Israel in his letter to the Romans.
          In his defining of the Gospel his emphasis is that Jesus is God’s Son, (underscoring His divinity) and mentions King David (underscoring His humanity).
          His mention of grace and apostleship speaks of his equipping, enabling and empowering (anointing, if you will), within the practical context of his being called, prepared and sent by God. The purpose of this sending is for obedience to the Gospel which comes by faith, for all of the Gentiles. This is further evidenced by his statement “among whom are ye also” a remark noting a majority of Gentiles among the Christians in Rome. They are “the called of Jesus Christ” accentuating a personal relationship with Jesus.
          Because of his calling and God’s grace in equipping him for his apostleship Paul feels obligated to all men, regardless of their status or position. He mentions a constancy in prayer in his desire to come and visit the Romans, and appears to be uncertain about God’s will for the journey. He feels his visit with them will help strengthen their faith and that they, and he, will receive comfort from their mutual faith.
          Paul is not ashamed of the Gospel because he knows that it is mankind’s only solution to the sin problem.

ROMANS1:1-17

The Apostle Is A Bond-Servant of Christ

          “Servant” here is doulos, variously translated also as “bond-servant.” It signifies subjection to anothers will without the idea of bondage. Paul thus indicates that he is a willing bond-slave to His Master, Jesus Christ. As such it’s understood that he, Paul, lays aside his own will to do the will of Jesus. Inherent in Paul’s idea in this expression is the fact that he is aware that his Master, Jesus, will provide for his necessary human needs.
          In the Ryrie study Bible a footnote regarding the word “servant” reads: “bond-servant. Lit., slave, from a word that means “to bind.” The believer who voluntarily takes the position of slave to Christ has no rights or will of his own. He does always and only the will of his Master. For His part, the Lord binds Himself to care for His servant (cf. Deut. 15:12-18) ...”
          The perfect example of a bond-servant is Jesus Christ Himself (Philippians 2:7).
          Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words (Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers) has this comment: “In calling himself, however, a “bondslave of Jesus Christ,” e. g., <Rom. 1:1>, the apostle Paul intimates (1) that he had been formerly a “bondslave” of Satan, and (2) that, having been bought by Christ, he was now a willing slave, bound to his new Master.”
          In many of Paul’s letters, he introduced himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:1).
          This, then is the very heart, the very core of what constitutes an “apostle.” Total voluntary submission to the will of Christ and dependency upon Him to provide for every need while seeking to emulate the life-style of Jesus Himself.

The Apostle is Called By Invitation Only From God

          “Called” is the word kletos, meaning “invited.” We know from scripture that the invitations (callings) from God are irrevocable. We are the ones who seek to deny His callings upon our lives. He is the one Who remains faithful and continues to extend His invitation (calling) to us.
          We know from the scriptural accounts that Paul had a direct encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus and that he spent years in the deserts of Arabia learning from God, and that his invitation (calling) and preparation, was from God. This invitation, or calling was by God’s will (1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1), through Jesus and God the Father: “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)” (Galatians 1:1), and through the commandment of God: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; (1 Timothy 1:1).”
          Continuing in the verse, the word “apostle,” apostolos, is literally “one sent forth.” Jesus used it to describe His relation to God the Father: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (apostello).” (John 17:3). This is attested to by the writer of Hebrews: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;” (Hebrews 3:1)

The Apostle’s Ministry Purpose Is Limited To The Gospel Of Jesus Christ

          “Separated” is aphorizo, “to mark off by boundaries or limits.” This is a divine limitation to the extent of Paul’s invitation, or calling, by God, i.e., what he must do and what he must avoid.
          “Unto” is eis, “to or into,” which here indicates his purpose.
          “Gospel” is euangelion, which came to mean, in the New Testament, good message, or good news (quoting Vines Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words) “of the kingdom of God and of salvation through Christ, to be received by faith, on the basis of His expiatory death, His burial, resurrection, and ascension. ... The apostle uses it of two associated yet distinct things, (a) of the basic facts of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, e. g., <1 Cor. 15:1-3>; (b) of the interpretation of these facts, e. g., <Rom. 2:16; Gal. 1:7,11; 2:2>; in (a) the “gospel” is viewed historically, in (b) doctrinally, with reference to the interpretation of the facts, as is sometimes indicated by the context.”
          We see in the latter part of this verse a limit upon Paul, a definition of his purpose, i.e., to preach the kingdom of God and to teach Christ. The Bible states that this is what Paul pursued. “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him” (Acts 28:30,31).
          In addition to (1) being a bond-servant of Jesus with (2) an invitation, or calling, (3) by the will of God, (4) from God and not from men, and (5) through the commandments of God and Jesus Christ, we find a limitation upon the apostle to (6) limit his purpose to the proclamation of the Gospel of the kingdom of God and His Christ.
          This is clearly stated by Paul in the first verse of the book of Romans. In the verses following he expands our thinking so that we will thoroughly understand exactly what Gospel he is talking about.

The Apostle Seeks New Places To Preach The Gospel, And Does Not Build On Another’s Foundation

          (Paul elaborates on this limitation in Romans 15:17-22: “I have therefore whereof I may glory through Jesus Christ in those things which pertain to God. For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed, Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand. For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.”)

The Apostle Has A Clearly Defined Understanding Of The Gospel Of Jesus Christ

          “Which” is hos, and we are safe here in rounding this out to “that which.” Note that he had “promised afore by his prophets” which is a clear indicator of the Old Testament prophets and would exclude the New Testament and present-day prophets.
          “By” is dia, “by means of.” “His” is autos, “he himself and no other,” which is emphatic. “Prophet” is prophetes, basically, one who speaks forth the mind and counsel of God, but here speaking exclusively of the Old Testament prophets, whose proclamations primarily concerned the divine purposes of salvation and future glory.
          “In” en, here denotes fixed position in place, time or state. “Holy” is hagios, here used in the sense of being consecrated to God as sacred.
          Paul now is tightening up his definition of “the Gospel of God” by telling us who wrote it, the sacredness of those writings and where those writings are located.
          As mentioned before, this is a divine limitation to the extent of Paul’s invitation, or calling, by God, i.e., what he must do and what he must avoid.
          In Galatians 1:6-10, Paul takes a strong stand against a perverted Gospel: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”
          He says of those who preach such a corrupted Gospel “let him be accursed.” Twice he makes that statment. “Accursed” is anathema, meaning “devoted to destruction.” Vines Expository Dictionary makes the following comment about this passage: “In Galatians 1:8-9, the apostle declares in the strongest manner that the gospel he preached was the one and only way of salvation, and that to preach another was to nullify the death of Christ.” Paul also makes it clear he is not seeking the approval or favor of men, but of God, “for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” “Servant” is doulos, i.e., bond-servant. Men-pleasers, then are not bond-servants of Christ.
          At this point Paul continues to elaborate upon that Gospel to which he was limited. Obviously his total elaboration is not limited to the book of Romans but includes the New Testament writings all of which must be included in the preaching of the Gospel today. Today’s apostle must also, as Paul, limit themselves to the preaching of the Gospel. In so doing he must limit himself to the Old and New Testaments.

The Apostle Knows Who Is Greatest And That He Is The Least

          Jesus Himself said about apostles at the Last Supper:
          “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him” (John 13:16).
          “Servant” is doulos, “bond-servant.” “Not” is ou, “the absolute negative.” “Greater” is meizon, “best, greater in importance and value.” “Neither” is oude, “not however, i.e., neither, nor, not even.” “He that is sent” is the word apostolos, “apostle.” “Greater” meizon again. “Sent” in this last part of the verse is pempo, “to send, dispatch.”
          Paul understood this: “For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God” (1 Corinthians 15:9).
          1 Corinthians 3:18-4:13:
          “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
          “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.”
          Paul continues to detail the Gospel to which he is limited.           In this verse the words “Jesus Christ our Lord” are not in the original text. It reads more literally “Concerning the Son of Him,” the word “Him” being autos, making it emphatic “He Himself and no other.”
          “Was made” is ginomai, “to cause to be, to become, come into being.” “Of” is ek, denoting origin. “Seed,” sperma, is something sown. “Flesh,” sarx, here speaks of His human body.
          Paul here chronicles the human incarnation of Jesus. He then explains in verses four, five and six, that it is from Jesus, the divinely credentialed Son of God, that he has received grace and a mission as a special messenger of God’s good news concerning the kingdom of God and Christ. He explains this is for the purpose of inviting, or calling, people from the whole world to be obedient to the faith he preaches and teaches. In verse six he includes the recipients of his letter in Rome as also being the called of Jesus.           The Ryrie study Bible has this note on verse 4 (partial): “Thus the verse may be understood this way: the resurrection of Jesus is the mighty proof of His deity, and this is declared by the Holy Spirit.”

The Apostle Receives And Understands Grace And Apostleship

          “Apostleship” is apostole, “a commission, a sending, a mission.” Essentially Paul is saying that it is by Jesus that he has received the accompanying grace and commission to be sent as a messenger of the Gospel. And that his purpose is to first, instill faith in God by preaching the kingdom of God and His Christ, and second, to teach it so thoroughly and simply that those who hear will be convicted by the power of the Gospel and will be obedient to it. He includes the Romans as having been invited or called to join the body of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle Recognizes and Promotes Holiness, Faith, Prayer And Comfort

          “Saints” is hagios, the same word translated as “holy” in verse two in conjunction with the scriptures, used in the sense of being consecrated to God as sacred.           Note how Paul commends them for their faith, which is known throughout the world. Implicit in Paul’s statement would be obedience to the faith which phrase he used in verse five.           The apostle is a man of unceasing prayer, praying for the Romans and also “making requests” (obviously to God) that he may come to them. He prays for men and he prays to God.           The word “impart” is metadidomi, “to give over, i.e., to share.” Vines Expository Dictionary says this: ““to give a share of, impart” as distinct from giving.”
          These two verses 11 and 12 belong together. The 11th verse is much quoted to validate the impartation of spiritual gifts, an injustice to Paul’s meaning here. Verse 12 explains what he meant, that is, to mutually comfort each other by sharing their mutual faith.
          Why? “... to the end ye may be established” Paul says. “Established” is sterizo, “to set fast, i.e., (literally) to turn resolutely in a certain direction, or (figuratively) to confirm.”
          Paul’s purpose for seeing them is to get their faith properly oriented and to confirm their faith.

The Apostle Evangelizes All Men Without Distinction

          Paul is clear in revealing that another purpose for his visit is to reap a harvest of souls, “even as among other Gentiles.”           As a debtor, Paul is under obligation, as part of his commission from God, to both Greek and Barbarian, i.e., the sophisticated and the unsophisticated. And also to the “wise, and to the unwise,” i.e., to the educated and wise and those who lack understanding. He is under obligation to preach the kingdom of heaven and to teach Christ.           According to what is in him, Paul is ready to preach the Gospel to all men, everywhere.

The Apostle Receives, Recognizes And Promotes The Power Of The Gospel, The Righteousness of God, And The Fullness Of Faith

          “Power” here is dunamis, force, ability, miraculous power. Paul explains the power of the Gospel of Christ to bring mankind into a right relationship as being miraculous for those who believe.           The righteousness of God has to do with the human sin issue and has many theological connotations. In addition to contrasting the righteousness of God with the unrighteousness of fallen man there is also a tacit understanding of His righteousness manifesting by God’s condemnation of sin. Various meanings have been suggested for the phrase “from faith to faith.” Most probably Paul’s meaning is a fullness of faith, i.e., faith and faith alone.
          The Gospel, and obedience to the Gospel through our personal faith, is the only solution to man’s sinful condition, by reconciling us back to God from our separated and rebellious condition.

The Apostle Is Zealous For The Truth Of The Gospel Of Jesus

          We see in the following verses the zeal and conviction of Paul in addressing the Corinthians:
          2 Corinthians 11:
          Verses 1-3: “Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”

The Apostle Recognizes And Denounces False Apostles

          Verses 4, 5: “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.”
          “Chiefest” is huperlian, meaning “beyond measure, exceedingly.” It is interpreted in some versions as “super apostles” and “extra-super [false] apostles.” These false apostles preach another Jesus, who Paul hasn’t preached, and as a result the hearers receive another spirit, other than the Spirit they received from hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and they believe another gospel, which Paul did not preach. He sarcastically refers to these “unsent messengers” as “super apostles.”
          Verse 6: “But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge; but we have been thoroughly made manifest among you in all things.”

The Apostle Considers Financial Support By The Assemblies To Be Robbery And Burdensome For Them

          Verses 7-9: “Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.”
          Paul points out that he did not seek to exalt himself, rather he abased himself by freely preaching the Gospel of God. When it comes to the matter of money he baldly states that he robbed other assemblies by taking money from them “to do you service.” He also mentions that the brethren from Macedonia helped support him, and that he kept himself from being a burden to them, and intended to continue to do so.
          He said the same thing to the church at Thessalonica:
          1 Thessalonians 2:7-9:
          “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.”
          The Amplified Bible is a little clearer in meaning: “But we behaved gently when we were among you, like a devoted mother nursing and cherishing her own children. So, being thus tenderly and affectionately desirous of you, we continued to share with you not only God’s good news (theGospel) but also our own lives as well, for you had become so very dear to us. For you recall our hard toil and struggles, brethren. We worked night and day [and plied our trade] in order not to be a burden to any of you [for our support] while we proclaimed the glad tidings (the Gospel) of God to you.”
          (See also 1 Corinthians 9:1-37).
          Verses 10, 11: “As the truth of Christ is in me, no man shall stop me of this boasting in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.”

The Apostle Condemns False Apostles As Controlling, Money-Oriented, Arrogant, Abusive And Ministers Of Satan

          Verse 12: “But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.”
          Paul continues to boast of his financial independence, and that he would continue to remain financially independent, so as to not provide an occasion for the false apostles to boast about themselves and attempt to compare themselves to Paul and his ministry.
          Verses 13-15: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
          Paul levels a powerful charge against those who preach an unscriptural Jesus, and as a result their hearers receive a spirit other than the Holy Spirit of God. They preach a Gospel other than what is recorded in scripture. He compares them to Satan himself, and as Satan’s ministers who have transformed themselves, falsely, into appearing as ministers of righteousness, stating their end shall be according to their wicked and evil works.
          Verses 16,17: “I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little. That which I speak, I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly, in this confidence of boasting.”
          Verses 18-20: “Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also. For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face.”
          Paul continues his sarcastic diatribe against those who foolishly receive these false apostles who bring them into bondage, and devour their money and property, and make them boast, and who physically abuse them.
          The Amplified Bible brings a clearer meaning to verse 20: “For you endure it if a man assumes control of your souls and makes slaves of you, or devours (your substance, spends your money) and preys upon you, or deceives and takes advantage of you, or is arrogant and puts on airs, or strikes you in the face.”
          Verses 21-23: “I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.”
          Paul continues with his admittedly fleshly boasting (in a sarcastic vein):

The Apostle Endures Hardships, Persecutions and Pressures

          Verses 24-30: “Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.
          Paul chronicles his sufferings and persecutions and the pressure upon him to care for the various assemblies and declares that if he is going to boast, then he will boast concerning his infirmities.
          Verse 31: “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not.”
          Paul states although he is speaking sarcastically, that, before God, what he has said is true. He then adds an afterthought to his statements.
          Verses 32,33: “In Damascus the governor under Aretas the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desirous to apprehend me: And through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and escaped his hands.”
          2 Corinthians 6:3-10:
          “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”
          1 Corinthians 4:8-13:
          “Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you. For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we entreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.”
          The Ryrie Study Bible comment on this passage reads: “With biting irony, Paul contrasts the imagined exaltation of the Corinthians with the degradation and distress which were the apostles’ daily lot.”

The Apostle Has Godly Visions and Revelations

          2 Corinthians 12:
          Verses 1-6: “It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.”
          Paul is doubtlessly referring to the time he was stoned and apparently died and was taken to the third heaven by God.

The Apostle Is Disciplined By God

          Verses 7-9: “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
          He mentions that to keep from exalting himself, God gave him a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him from being “exalted above measure.” Bible bookstores are rife with material expressing opinions of what this “thorn” was. This is another case of the Bible being silent where we should be also. We just cannot definitely say what it was.

The Apostle Experiences A Shift In Personal Values

          Verse 10: “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
          His criteria, then, is not in boasting but in taking pleasures in his problems for the sake of the propagation of the Gospel. This is a tremendous shift in personal values for Paul from the time he persecuted the church to this present statement.
          Verse 11: “I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.”
          The Amplified Bible expresses this verse as: “Now I have been [speaking like] a fool! But you forced me to it, for I ought to have been [saved the necessity and] commended by you. For I have not fallen short one bit or proved myself at all inferior to those superlative [false] apostles [of yours], even if I am nothing — a nobody.”

The Apostle Is Patient, Working Signs, Wonders and Mighty Deeds

          Verse 12: “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.”
          “Wrought” is katergazomai, which is the intensive form of “to work” and is more emphatic.
          Another mark of the apostle sent by God: Signs, wonders, and mighty deeds, patiently wrought.

The Apostle Matures The Saints To Become Public Servants To Build Up The Body Of Christ

          Ephesians 4:11-16:
          11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
          12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
          13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
          14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
          15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
          16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
          In summary:
  1. The Apostle Will Have Had A Personal Encounter With Christ
  2. The Apostle’s Personal Encounter With Christ Will Be Witnessed By Others
  3. The Apostle’s Godly Call Will Be Confirmed By Another Disciple Of Christ
  4. The Apostle Will Be An Able Teacher To The Body Of Christ
  5. The Apostle Is A Bond-Servant of Christ
  6. The Apostle is Called By Invitation Only From God
  7. The Apostle’s Ministry Purpose Is Limited To The Gospel Of Jesus Christ
  8. The Apostle Seeks New Places To Preach The Gospel, And Does Not Build On Another’s Foundation
  9. The Apostle Has A Clearly Defined Understanding Of The Gospel Of Jesus Christ
  10. The Apostle Knows Who Is Greatest And That He Is The Least
  11. The Apostle Receives And Understands Grace And Apostleship
  12. The Apostle Recognizes and Promotes Holiness, Faith, Prayer And Comfort
  13. The Apostle Evangelizes All Men Without Distinction
  14. The Apostle Receives, Recognizes And Promotes The Power Of The Gospel, The Righteousness of God, And The Fullness Of Faith
  15. The Apostle Is Zealous For The Truth Of The Gospel Of Jesus
  16. The Apostle Recognizes And Denounces False Apostles
  17. The Apostle Considers Financial Support By The Assemblies To Be Robbery And Burdensome For Them
  18. The Apostle Condemns False Apostles As Controlling, Money-Oriented, Arrogant, Abusive And Ministers Of Satan
  19. The Apostle Endures Hardships, Persecutions and Pressures
  20. The Apostle Has Godly Visions and Revelations
  21. The Apostle Is Disciplined By God
  22. The Apostle Experiences A Shift In Personal Values
  23. The Apostle Is Patient, Working Signs, Wonders and Mighty Deeds
  24. The Apostle Matures The Saints To Become Public Servants To Build Up The Body Of Christ

Epilogue

          If we will but judge the lifestyle of those claiming to be apostles in today’s assemblies by the divinely inspired writings of scripture we will avoid being led astray into the trap of those seeking to turn us away from our faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ with their subtlety and all mischief, those who are children of the devil, the enemies of all righteousness, who seek to pervert the right ways of the Lord.
          (Acts 13:8-10: “But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtlety and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?”)
        Suggested reading:
“The twelve Apostles and Paul sent to preach gospel truth” is a companion article and in-depth study on the twelve Apostles of the Lamb, and Paul the apostle, who were called by God with prophets in the New Testament, to lay the foundation of Jesus Christ.
        Other related subjects:
“The Purpose Of The Five-Fold Gifts from God through Jesus”
“God by the Spirit of Jesus Christ will build an assembly”
“God, Jesus Christ, His Truth, Bible-true church foundation”
“Church foundation apostles and prophets laid is Jesus Christ”
“Ministering Spiritual Gifts (with personal prophecy and impartation)”
“Spiritual gifts of God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit to His church-Growth In Gifts,”
“Cult practices of false teachers, apostles and prophets”
“False christs, apostles, prophets, teachers are not brothers”

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