This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God’s holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Ephesians 1:1-2
What is an apostle?
The word “apostle” comes from the Greek word ἀπόστολος (apóstolos), formed from the prefix ἀπό- (apó-, “from”) and root στέλλω(stéllō, “I send”, “I depart”) and originally meaning “messenger, envoy”. It has, however, a stronger sense than the word messenger, and is closer to a “delegate”. The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament argues that its Christian use translated a Jewish position known in Hebrew as the sheliach (שליח). This ecclesiastical meaning of the word was later translated into Latin as missio, the source of the English “missionary”.
Traditionally, we think of the twelve disciples, chosen be Jesus, as the Apostles. After Judas’ suicide, Mathias was chosen by lot to be his replacement.
Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven. Acts 1:26
But could Paul have been the actual replacement God had in mind?
What is the role of the Apostle?
- Praying and teaching
Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word.” Acts 6:4
- Performing miracles
A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. Acts 2:43
The apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomon’s Colonnade. Acts 5:12
- Making decisions for the church
Then they went from town to town, instructing the believers to follow the decisions made by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. Acts 16:4
But the apostles stayed there a long time, preaching boldly about the grace of the Lord. And the Lord proved their message was true by giving them power to do miraculous signs and wonders. Acts 14:3
As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. Crowds came from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil spirits, and they were all healed. Acts 5:15-16
Can someone who is not one of the twelve be an apostle?
For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. Acts 4:36
Both Paul and Barnabas are called apostles in Acts.
How was Paul chosen “by the will of God”?
In the story of Paul’s encounter with Christ, it is clear that Paul was not searching to have a relationship with Jesus. On the contrary, he was persecuting the followers of Christ. It was Jesus that reached out to him. Paul was chosen for reasons that only God knows but we can speculate that Paul’s background was what God had in mind for choosing him. Paul was well educated, multi-lingual, and zealous, probably a workaholic, disciplined, had great communication skills, and was Jewish. God chose to use these skills and traits for the benefit of the expansion of the gospel and to grow the body of believers throughout the world. It was God’s will to choose him for this vital work.
It is easy to surmise that God still does that. He chooses us, believers and and followers of Jesus for certain tasks that are essential to the body of Christ based on our skills, talents, gifts, backgrounds, etc. What we need to do is assess what those things are and see where we fit in God’s overall plan.
Now, Paul had a choice. When he was confronted and blinded on that road and heard Jesus speak to him, he could have chosen to say “no way” but he didn’t. Instead, he was overwhelmed and probably thought about this long and hard for those few days he was blind and made the conscious decision to answer Jesus’ calling.
What is God calling you to do? What are your skills, talents, gifts and abilities that make you unique and well qualified for Jesus to use? Are you willing to answer His call when He tells you what it is you are to do?
Who are the Faithful in Christ Jesus?
Just because someone believes in Jesus does not necessarily make him faithful.
Faithfulness is persevering in that faith despite any trouble that may come your way.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 2 Timothy 4:7
What is it exactly that we are to be faithful to? Jesus said that we are to be faithful to His teachings. We can only receive and understand His teachings by reading His word.
Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. John 8:31
Being faithful to God begins with being faithful to the teaching received. This is why it is essential to be taught and to learn and absorb the truth that is taught by those who you can trust.
But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you. 2 Timothy 3:14
Being faithful means not turning away from God. When bad things happen we sometimes turn our eyes off God and try to fix things ourselves. It is at these moments when we are to rely on God’s grace and mercy and not on our efforts to fix things. Similarly, when things are going great, when we get a raise or promotion at work, when we prosper, we tend to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done. This, in a way, is turning away from God and not giving Him all the honor, praise and credit for the wonderful blessings we receive.
But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved. Hebrews 10:39
Although the choice to be faithful or not is ours, tt is the spirit which God has placed in us that makes us faithful. It isn’t really our own efforts. God’s grace is all-encompassing and it is His grace provided to us through the power of the Holy Spirit that gives us the ability to be faithful.
Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. James 4:5
It is by God’s grace that we remain faithful.
It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel have remained faithful because of God’s grace—his undeserved kindness in choosing them. Romans 11:5
There is a reward for remaining faithful.
Faithfulness results in a reward that, although it is in the future for us, we have already received in our position in Christ. Since we are one with Christ because of God’s grace, we will share in all things that belong to Christ. What is it that belongs to Christ? Simply put, everything. He owns everything. Think about it, because of your position in Christ, you are wealthier than any billionaire on earth. Bill Gates, Donald Trump and Warren Buffett have nothing compared to what we have.
For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ. Hebrews 3:14
Faithfulness is not just some abstract concept. There is action that results from it. Faithfulness shows itself in deeds. Showing kindness to strangers and love for your brothers is a manifestation of that faithfulness. Good works are a result of your faithfulness.
There is a consequence to not being faithful. Destruction comes, not because God is mean but because the natural consequence of being unfaithful is destruction. Faithfulness to God takes us out of the path of destruction.
So I want to remind you, though you already know these things, that Jesus first rescued the nation of Israel from Egypt, but later he destroyed those who did not remain faithful. Jude 1:5
Dear friend, you are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you. 3 John 1:5
Faithfulness surpasses suffering. It is in times of trouble and distress that we need to look to God knowing that “all things work together for good to those who love the Lord.” We need to rely on His comfort when we are going through times of trouble. That is part of being faithful.
Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. Hebrews 10:32
When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony. Revelation 6:9
Faithfulness is a condition of fellowship with the Son and the Father. Although God’s love and grace are unconditional, certain other things are. When we stray from the path of righteousness and faithfulness, we lose fellowship with the Son and the Father. It’s not that He moves away from us but rather it is we that move away from Him. God does not force us into fellowship with Him. It is up to us to want and desire that fellowship more than anything else in the world.
So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. 1 John 2:24
There is a consequence to not being faithful.
Grace and peace
Grace and peace originate with God the Father.
Should there be an office in the local church titled “apostle”?
Should a believer aspire to be an apostle? Why or why not?
If your faith fails at times, are you unfaithful?
What is one way to remain faithful?
If you do not have peace in your life, is it because God has not shown you His grace or because you have not received His grace?