The apostle Paul has been considered the 12th apostle by the church for 2000 years. Why?
An apostle was literally, a “called out” one by Christ Himself. In the passage below, we read of Paul/Saul’s calling,
5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Acts 9:5-6
This meeting was one of many times that Paul (formerly Saul) met with Jesus. We have this word from Christ Himself to Ananias, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:16). This suffering is evident in Paul’s life wherever he went. Here was his perspective, “Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24). God did not shield Paul from the persecutions he faced in nearly every town he entered. Yet, the Gospel was shared and a church planted in every place. The Holy Spirit was moving!
In 2 Corinthians 12:1-4, Paul tells of a time when he was caught up into heaven,
I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man…4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.
He learned many things that he could not tell–but also things that he COULD tell,
25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
What is the mystery that Paul was given to share? Christ in us, the hope of glory! God the Son lives in us through God the Holy Spirit, “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). This Advocate is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ and of God, “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:3-4).
This is the good news of the Gospel: Christ wants to be in us to give us the hope of glory with Him. This hope is steadfast and sure, and will be realized on the day when we go be with Him. In the meantime, we walk in step with the Spirit as we become like Him in character. We are children of the King! May we never forget it.
Abba, we have so much to learn about being like You. You promise us that we are blameless, pure, without fault or blemish–I just can’t see it. But, I receive it in faith that YOU see it. Make me like You, Jesus. That’s all I ask. Amen.