Summary: As servants of Almighty God, we have the authority and awesome privilege of sharing God's message of love with all people.
WHO'S YOUR BOSS?
The boss is an interesting individual. Some people like their boss and some do not. Some work harder when the boss is around than when he or she is absent. Many bosses are very difficult to work for while others are very laid back. The boss might be a gentle person or a hard-driving maniac. Whoever the boss is and whatever characteristics he may have, his employees are responsible to him. It does not matter whether you like his mannerisms or every decision he makes, he is the boss. You may appeal your case of disagreement, but the final word belongs to him. He is the boss. I suppose many have quit jobs because of their boss. Others have appealed to higher powers, if there are any, because of the actions of their boss. Some bosses sexually harass their employees. Others are completely ignored by their boss. We should have no trouble determining who the boss is though. I have worked some places where it seemed I had more bosses than I needed, but I knew who the boss was. He was the person I reported to. He was the person who made sure I performed all the functions of my job. He was the one who could terminate me if I performed poorly or did something I was not supposed to do.
Paul was keenly aware that his boss was God. It was not those Judaizers who were trying diligently to destroy his ministry. It was not the ones questioning his authority. It was not the ones destroying the doctrine he was teaching. God was his boss and had been since he met the risen Lord on the road to Damascus. He had served him with determination since that day.
As Christians, we too should know who our boss is in spiritual matters. The boss is not the pastor, church, some teacher, an organizational leader or committee member. The boss is God. Jesus Christ is the head of the church. He is the one sent by God to give his life for the church. He is the head or boss, and we are the employees. He tells us what to do and expects us to do it. We have the freedom to disobey just as we do in a secular job. We also have to endure the consequences if we choose to do so. Because of who our boss is, there are some special privileges and responsibilities we have.
I. BECAUSE OF OUR BOSS, WE HAVE AUTHORITY
Paul claimed the authority of an apostle. God was the one who appointed him as an apostle. It was no human agent or agency who gave him this authority. An apostle is one sent with a commission, and God sent Paul with a commission. An apostle was an envoy, ambassador or messenger. Jesus Christ himself trained the apostle to proclaim the truth of the gospel. Thus in the technical sense, the only apostles were the original twelve. They were given power to heal and cast out demons as a sign of their divine authority.
In a wider sense, the title is used of men like Barnabas, Silas and Timothy. They were more specifically called messengers. Neither of the two references to these groups signaled any perpetuation. Their offices were not passed down to those who followed them.
This caused a problem for Paul. He was not one of the original twelve disciples. He had not walked with Jesus during his earthly ministry or seen him in his resurrected form. Because he had not seen the risen Christ after his resurrection, he had to explain his apostleship in ways they did not. Paul explained to the Corinthian church how he met the risen Christ on the Damascus Road. He was going there to arrest Christians, but he met the Lord instead. Through the godly prophet Ananias, the Lord declared Paul a special instrument to proclaim the gospel to the Gentiles.
False teachers were accusing Paul of being self-appointed. If this was true, he would have no authority to teach or rule in the churches. But Paul's commission was no ordinary one. He was commissioned through Jesus Christ. After several years of preparation, God sent him to the Gentiles to proclaim God's love to them. He certainly had a vastly superior commissioning to the false teachers who were questioning his authority.
The work of the apostle in the early church was very important. They boldly claimed to speak and write in the name of God. They spoke to the church the doctrine of God. The apostles received their doctrine from God, and the church in turn received her doctrine from the apostles.
Because of who our boss is, we too have authority. We have not seen the risen Christ, but we have received a commission from the risen Lord. That commission is to spread his love throughout the world. We are to begin where we are and branch out from there. God commissions us to meet the needs of people and in the process show them his love. God gives gifts and talents, and we go out with authority equipped to do his work. We have the authority to proclaim the forgiveness of sins based on a person's repentance. We have the authority to say their sins are not forgiven based on their failure to repent. We have the authority to share with them their eternal destiny based on what decision they make.