Summary: A study of the first 3 verses of Ephesians
1:1 "Paul." What a great man Saul of Tarsus had now become.
His greatness was not measurable in worldly terms because he was now a prisoner. He was shackled to a Roman guard for most of the time. Some even tell us that he was often standing in 18 inches of water.
One thing is for sure: He was not in a physically comfortable condition.
GREATNESS MEASURED BY GOD’S CRITERION
No. Paul’s greatness has to be measured in what he had achieved for God. Churches throughout much of the known world had been established through his ministry. Thousands of people were now lovers of God directly or indirectly through him. We are even told that during Paul’s lifetime the church at Ephesus had reached 100,000 people.
Also, Paul had begun to minister through the epistles he was writing. Thus, his ministry would continue long after his own demise, right into eternity. By this stage of his ministry Paul could have begun to complain a great deal. He could have had a rare old pity party. He had done so much for the Lord, and now he was to suffer these further indignities. But there is no complaint from Paul. He is the one who had said, "The sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared…"
Apostle means "sent one." Paul was told at the beginning of his ministry that he would do many things. He was also told that he would suffer for the Kingdom’s sake. However, Paul kept the faith. He kept on going when the way was the roughest possible. When this man says something you can be sure of two things. One of them is theological. The other is emotional. Theologically we can be sure that his writings are the word of God because all scriptures are. Emotionally we can be sure that Paul earned the right to say the things he said.
When Paul speaks I want to listen, because he paid a price. He paid a high price.
EARNING THE RIGHT TO SAY WHAT YOU SAY
When you listen to some ministers you have a sneaking suspicion that they have not earned the right to say what they want. They are telling you to pray, but they don’t pray. They are telling you to work harder, but they are lazy. Perhaps they demand that you study the Word more, when you know more than they do.
Sometimes young men will talk boldly, even brashly about the way they have used their faith. Others will tell you how successful their marriage is, when it is only a few months old. (I will never forget Michael Jackson telling Lisa-Marie how much he loved her. As they stood on the stage he kissed her and said, "They said it wouldn’t last." A few weeks later, after seventeen months of marriage, they were arranging their divorce.)
If you haven’t earned the right to say something it doesn’t mean that you should not say it. What it means is that you should say it in such a way that it does not wreak of arrogance. A touch of humility could not possibly be a bad thing.
Many think of Paul as being alone all the time. This is not true. Paul always travelled with a team. There are 24 named people who travelled with him. But, the apostle at this time is probably hungry for Christian fellowship. We can see this because there is no list of others whom he mentions at the end of the letter.
"…of Jesus Christ."
Not of a church. Not of a denomination. Sometimes it is necessary for us to get ordination papers from a group for legal reasons. Other times we join a particular movement because it is beneficial in other ways. This need not be a problem. But, it soon becomes one. It is so easy to be caught unawares. The group starts to bind us up with various man-made rules and regulations. To remain in that group you have to do everything they say. You must remain loyal to your denomination to the detriment of others. This is not good!
Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ. He would be unswervingly loyal to Him.
To be like Paul you will offend some people. And some of those you offend will have been your friends. There have been a number of times I have befriended a fellow minister. Because of it, others have warned me off. On many occasions it is simple jealousy. In other words it is gross evility. There are not many worse things than assassinating another’s character. You have no right to do it. You may even think you are right. But, you have no right!
To be a follower of Jesus Christ will not make you popular with everybody. Sadly, some of your fiercest critics may even be other believers. This happened to Paul. It even happened to Jesus.