I start this journey with trepidation and anxiety. I find myself fluffing around for the right pen and the right Bible- even though the Lord sad very clearly to me that this does not matter. I need to get this right and I am afraid of falling short. “Forgive me Father for my lack of trust in you.”
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.”
What an awesome title that is, a testimony of a life transformed by the grace of God. Paul used to be Saul; the persecutor is now an apostle.
An apostle is someone who has trans-local authority. Unlike a pastor, his authority extends over many regions, many congregations. In the Old Testament such a person would have been called a “Man of God.”
The authority of an apostle is not determined by the appointment of the church or a denomination. This is a charisma, a gift of the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 4:11, Paul talks about the five-fold ministry gifts, that is people-- apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers-- who are themselves a gift to the church for the equipping of the saints.
Not all who are appointed to a position in the church are done so by God. Not every person called an apostle or pastor is there by the will of God.
Paul is an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. It is God who called him to faith. It is God who saved him. It is God who gave him the authority and the desire to be an apostle.
Paul is an apostle of Christ Jesus- an apostle of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. An apostle in the secular sense was a representative of Rome carrying military and governmental authority.
This apostle carried the authority of Christ. All true ministers of Christ carry this authority in their realm of ministry. Paul carried the governmental authority, not of Rome, but of the kingdom of God. This is a seemingly weak and puny kingdom, yet it carries all the power and might of God the Creator of all things, and of His Son our Redeemer.
“To the saints who are the faithful in Christ Jesus.” Some manuscripts have “To the saints in Ephesus”, but that may or may not have been added later. Paul was writing immediately to Ephesus, but he was also writing to all the saints everywhere,
A “saint” is a holy one, and Paul uses it to refer to all the believers. To be holy is to be set part for God’s purposes.
A christian is someone who has made Jesus the Lord, or Ruler, of his or her life. I am not my own any more for I have been set apart for God’s use.
Here is a mystery. God takes these broken, soiled, totally contaminated human beings and He sets them apart for His purposes.
We talk glibly about “giving your heart or your life to Jesus,” making it just a prayer and a hope for a better life. But from God’s side it is a change of use from common or earthly use to “holy, holy, holy” use.
We have our will and the capacity to sin, but God calls us holy.
We are the “faithful in Christ Jesus”. The “saints” are those who refuse to let go of Christ, despite set backs, suffering, persecution or disappointments. We are faithful to the end, because He is faithful to the end.
The apostle Paul who is an “apostle of Christ Jesus” speaks to those who are “faithful in Christ Jesus. To understand Paul, and indeed the whole of the Scriptures, we have to be “in Christ Jesus.” You can understand the words and gain knowledge without Jesus, but to get the full meaning, the great sense of Scriptures, we have to be “in Christ Jesus.”
What does It mean to be in Christ Jesus
you must be born again first of all
you must be faithful to Him, walking in His ways as far as possible
you must pursue intimacy with Him, going deeper, deeper into His presence.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul bestows grace and peace. This is a blessing or an impartation of grace and peace. He doesn’t pray for peace and grace, He imparts them. The speaking of the word of blessing conveys the blessing. In Biblical culture “sending love and prayers” is a reality. To speak a blessing or a curse carries the power of blessing or curing through the words that are spoken.
When we are “in Christ Jesus” we can bestow grace and peace upon our brethren.
The word for grace is charis in Greek, meaning the gift of the Holy Spirit. Grace brings us to salvation and grace equips us for the journey of faith. The power gifts or “charismata” are given to enable us to serve Christ in our daily walk. We need this grace to stand firm, to remain faithful to Christ. We learn to depend on Holy Spirit rather than human wisdom, and then grace multiplies in us and out to other people.
Peace is eirene in Greek or shalom in Hebrew. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It transforms the soul in the knowledge that God is with us (Emmanuel) and so we have nothing to fear. This peace enables us to sleep in the boat as it battles through the storm. We relax in the face of adversity knowing that we are in His hands, the place of perfect safety.
So Paul blesses us with this grace and peace, imparting both gift and fruit, power and character, to equip us for every good deed in Christ.
Key points from these verses
We need to be in Christ Jesus
We need to receive grace and peace daily
We need to pursue intimacy with God