Summary: Throughout the ages God has used outstanding men and women to accomplish his purposes in the world. Today we are going to study one of those individuals, the apostle Paul.
A Man Called Paul
Throughout the ages God has used outstanding men and women to accomplish his purposes in the world. Today we are going to study one of those individuals, the apostle Paul. We will notice that God used Paul’s remarkable gifts and abilities for his own purposes. And we will consider what that means with respect to our own gifts and abilities. Let’s read Romans 1:1:
1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God. (Romans 1:1)
When you and I write a letter, we generally use a format that includes the date, name and address of the recipient, salutation, greeting, main body, conclusion, and finally our signature.
In the first-century world, they also had a letter-writing format. Typically, it first included the name of the sender, then the name of the recipient. This was followed by a greeting, main body, and conclusion. Sometimes the greeting was inserted between the name of the sender and the name of the recipient. The “envelope” of the letter consisted of the name of the sender, the greeting, and the name of the recipient.
The apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Romans in the conventional first-century way: sender, greetings, recipient, main body, and conclusion.
The “envelope” of Paul’s letter to the Romans is the first seven verses of Romans 1, and is an integral part of his letter. What is interesting about Paul’s “envelope” is that it has theological content at every point.
But before we even get in to the “envelope” of Paul’s letter to the Romans, I want us to learn something about the author of the letter to the Romans, a man called Paul. Paul, the author of the letter to the Romans, was a remarkable man, and he was used by God in a remarkable way.
So, briefly, what do the Scriptures teach us about Paul?
I. Paul’s Background
First, notice Paul’s background.
Paul was a rigid, fanatical, nationalistic Jew. He hated the Lord Jesus Christ and everything connected with him, and regarded him as a blasphemer.
As a young man, Paul, then known as Saul, tried to destroy the Christian Church. In Jerusalem he went from house to house, dragged off men and women and put them in prison (Acts 2:3). Still “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples,” he obtained permission from the high priest to go to Damascus in order to exterminate the fledgling church there (Acts 9:1-2).
On the road to Damascus Paul encountered the risen Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 9:3-6), and he was converted to Christ. His life was totally transformed, and he became the mighty defender of the Christian faith and apostle to the Gentiles.
Now let’s take a closer look at this because we cannot but be impressed by the marvelous way in which God prepared this particular man for his particular task. What else do we know about Paul?
Paul was endowed with unusual and exceptional natural gifts and abilities. There is no question about that. It is something that comes out everywhere in all of his letters, and also in what we are told about him in the book of Acts. Paul was undoubtedly one of the great minds, not only of the Church, but also, of the world. This is something that is acknowledged even by non-Christians.