Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead) Galatians 1:1
Apostle – Who are the Apostles? Well, if you translate the word, the question reads a little differently. Now it becomes, “Who are those sent as emissaries of Yeshua the Messiah?” Translating the Greek word instead of treating it like an exclusive category of adult Jewish males helps us to see that in one sense a lot of us are apostoloi. We are chosen by Jesus to act as His representatives in the world. We might not be in that group usually titled “Apostles,” but we are none the less commissioned as His “sent out ones.” In this way, we are like Paul. We were not there during Yeshua’s earthly ministry. We did not join Him after His baptism. We were not eye-witnesses to the death and resurrection. We are late-arrivals, just like Paul. Of course, Paul did meet the risen Christ and on that score he is qualified for the select group, but I don’t think Jesus is counting. Paul had a role to play, just like Peter and James and John – and just like you and me, equally commissioned, called and sent. Barnabas didn’t meet the requirements of the original twelve, but he too was sent.
Now this has some absolutely wonderful implications. First, and foremost, it means that our Lord and Savior sees something in us that we don’t see. He saw the great missionary Paul in the person of the persecutor Saul. He saw the great church leader Peter in the person of the brash and arrogant Simon. And He sees something in you and in me that we carry hidden within our broken and unworthy frames. He sees what we will be for Him! We might have some glimpse of it now, as we learn to be obedient and useful to Him, but there is much more. Now we see ourselves through the glass darkly. It will take refinement to bring forth all that we will be. It is amazingly wonderful to know that in spite of our present evaluation of ourselves, He finds something so valuable in us that He is willing to give us new life to obtain it. There are days when each one of us needs to know this – right down to the bottom of our souls (to use a Greek expression). Those days when we feel that we have failed the calling, when we see how far we still have to go, when we are overwhelmed with the responsibility of being God’s representative – on those days we need to remember that He invited us because He sees where He is taking us. Praise be to Him and blessed be His Name.
Secondly, this little translated word implies that each of us has a particular role to play in the body. We are here for each other. I can’t do what you can do. You can’t do what I can do. But together, we can do all that Yeshua sees in us. There are no second-class citizens among the called and commissioned. We are all equally His emissaries. Sometimes we need to reflect on this. In this sense, we are just like Paul or any of the other great people of God. The only difference between us is the job, not the status. There is no hierarchy in the Kingdom. There are only fellow-citizens, submitted to the King. We can enjoy each other, encourage each other and praise each other because we are all in the same boat.
Apostolos – it has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Called, commissioned and sent. That’s what I am. So are you! He calls and commissions and the church cooperates by sending. So, a healthy church is always getting smaller because it is sending off those who have been equipped. Kind of backwards from the way we think, isn’t it?
Topical Index: apostle, apostolos, sent, commissioned, emissary, Galatians 1:1