The apostle Paul had something to say about the importance of his message and ministry in basically every epistle that he wrote. He was not an egomaniac because he wrote by inspiration of God. Paul gave all glory to God and knew that he was nothing as a man (Rom. 7:18):
- I am the least of the apostles (1 Cor. 15:9-10)
- I am less than the least of all saints (Eph. 3:8)
- I am the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15)
Yet, he knew that God, by His exceeding abundant grace, had given him a special ministry.
For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
Why do so many preachers try to minimize what God has magnified (Ps. 138:2)? What good is God’s name if He cannot keep His word? How many preachers in the world today believe that God inspired and perfectly preserved His words? Among those that believe that, how many recognize Paul as the pattern and spokesman for the Body of Christ to follow in this present age of grace?
Do we make too much out of Paul? I have been accused of that for simply pointing out what GOD said about him! Let’s consider what the word of God says about his ministry.
1) Apostle (Gal. 1:1)
That God inspired Paul to write much scripture in defense of his apostleship proves the importance of it. His apostleship was under constant attack largely because of the distinctiveness of his message and ministry. Apostles were men chosen by the Lord and personally SENT OUT by Him with a message and signs to confirm it (2 Cor. 12:12). While on earth Christ sent twelve apostles to the twelve tribes of Israel. From heaven, He sent Paul (and other apostles) to the Body of Christ (Eph. 4:7-12). With the completion of the word of God there is no longer a need for apostles. Paul was the last one to see the Lord (1 Cor. 15:8).
Christ sent him as the apostle to the Gentiles and the Body of Christ (Acts 26:16-18). Paul went to the Jew first during the transition period because God used him to get a remnant out of Israel before He set the action aside in judicial blindness. There are some who say that will not follow Paul because they follow the Lord. You can’t follow the Lord if you don’t follow the apostle that He sent to you (Jn. 13:20).
2) Preacher (1 Tim. 2:3-7)
As a preacher, Paul faithfully heralded the gospel that Christ revealed to him and committed to his trust (2 Tim. 4:16-17; Titus 1:1-3). Christ sent Paul to preach the gospel (1 Cor. 1:17), and His unsearchable riches (Eph. 3:8). He was the greatest evangelist the world has ever known (Col. 1:6, 23).
3) Teacher (2 Tim. 1:11)
As a teacher, Paul faithfully taught the doctrines that Christ revealed through him for the Body of Christ in this present age and trained faithful men to teach others also (1 Cor. 4:15-17; 2 Tim. 2:2).
4) Minister (Col. 1:21-29)
He was minister to every creature with the gospel, and to the church with the mystery. Paul was not a Christian celebrity, but a humble servant of the Lord (1 Thess. 2:6)! He did not abuse his great authority (2 Cor. 1:24).
5) Ambassador (Eph. 6:19-20)
Ambassadors are sent to a foreign land (our conversation is in heaven) in a time of peace (today is the day of salvation) to represent their king. Ambassadors are messengers (Prov. 13:17). Christ revealed the mystery of the gospel to Paul (1 Cor. 15:3-4; Gal. 1:11-12), and he became a prisoner (of the Lord) by faithfully fulfilling his ministry. We too are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20).
6) Pattern (1 Tim. 1:12-16)
This present age began when Christ saved the chief of sinner by exceeding abundant grace (not in experience but in longsuffering and grace). He is also our example in how to walk and serve the Lord (Phil. 3:17; 4:9).
7) Masterbuilder (1 Cor. 3:10-11)
Paul laid the foundation for this present age by preaching Christ according to the revelation of the mystery (Rom. 16:25). Christ is the foundation (both programs).
8) Steward (1 Cor. 4:1-2)
Christ revealed the great mystery (i.e. secret) of the Body of Christ as well as other corresponding mysteries to Paul and he was a faithful steward of those mysteries.
9) Spokesman (1 Cor. 14:37)
Paul did not actually use the word "spokesman," but it is a Bible word for someone who speaks for another (Ex. 4:16). Paul was God's mouthpiece to the Gentiles and the Body of Christ. God took Moses up on a mount and revealed the Law through him for Israel. After his conversion, Paul went out into the wilderness (likely on the same mount) for three years to receive revelations for this present age for the Body of Christ (Gal. 1:15-20). Paul's thirteen epistles are the word of God.
Paul was careful to give God all the glory for what HE did in and through him. We are not magnifying a man, but the office that God gave him.