Romans – Paul’s Apostleship

Romans 1:1          “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God …”

Looking at the vocabulary:

Called – κλητος – kletos: invited, appointed (as opposed to ‘named’) (present participle as adjectival)

Apostle – αποστολος  apostolos – a compound of:

i) apo -> preposition: of, from, out of, off, etc

1) of separation (locomotion, location, association, of time or place

2) of origin; ie: where something / one is from; where it is, happens, is taken      

2b) origin of cause (conceptual)

ii) Stello -> avoid, withdraw (one’s) self.

1) to set in place, arrange, prepare, equip, make provision for  –  or

2)  to bring together, contract, shorten, reduce, check, cause to cease, remove one’s self, to abstain from familiar intercourse with someone

Apostolos -> the idea of withdrawing oneself or being withdrawn from the common exchange / interchange of human business, as set apart to an assigned task.

The Essence of Apostleship:

The Greek word apostolos refers to a delegate; one who is sent as a representative on behalf of a higher authority. An apostle of Jesus Christ was called away from worldly or common concerns of life and set apart to the service of the gospel. In a general sense, every person who has received Christ is an apostle; each of us are called to share the message of salvation from sin through the faith in the shed blood and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But Paul’s apostleship, along with the original 12, is distinguished from the more general use of the term; those twelve apostles were specifically chosen by Christ to begin the work of building the church upon the foundation of its Cornerstone (John 6:10, 15:16; Ephesians 2:20).  These men did not decide to become apostles for Christ, but were chosen by Jesus for that role. Apostleship is God’s sole discretion and initiative; no one can take that title upon themselves.

A true apostle must receive personal, direct instruction by Him Whom they represent, and by Whom and on Whose behalf they are commissioned.  As Jesus carefully instructed the original twelve men he had chosen, Paul was also personally taught by Christ what the Lord required him to know and do to serve Him. (gospels, Acts, Gal 1:1; 11-; 1 Cor 15:1-2, 11:23; Eph 3:3)

These twelve men were set apart from the mundane, temporal priorities to a special appointment of duty. (2 Ti 2:4) Peter and John left their fishing nets and their father’s boats, first to learn at their Master’s feet, and then to bring His good news to the lost world around them. Likewise Paul left his prestigious and powerful role as a leader in the religion of the Jews, left his home and his wealth behind, and took no wife to comfort himself, in order to fully embrace the service of taking the message of eternity to as many people as possible.

Significance of Apostleship:

A true apostle speaks on behalf of his commissioner those things which the commissioner has given him to convey. A true apostle does not speak his own things to those to whom he is sent, except to the extent that he is identifying himself in his role, clarifying his purpose in his message, or giving his qualified reply to a question not directly addressed by his sender, for which a prompt response is indicated. In this latter case, he will always identify his answers as his own, knowing that while his thinking is instructed by his regent’s training, he might have drawn a conclusion not entirely reflective of his sender, and in any case would not presume to communicate his own ideas as though he had received them from his master. (cf 1 Cor 7:10; 1 Tim 2:12)

Significance of Apostleship in Paul’s Ministry:

Paul was called by Christ from the common ebb and flow of human affairs as an appointed representative of Christ Himself, to bring the specific message given to Paul by Christ Himself to all people to whom Christ would direct Paul.

Having had a personal encounter with the living Christ, Paul’s academic understanding of a God that was ‘out there’ was demolished, replaced by the knowledge of the God Who lives, and interacts with men. His experience of God was personal and miraculous. Paul was necessarily changed when, like Job, he went from a man who knew something about God because of what he had heard, to a man who knew God for himself through experience.

Paul’s theology, morality, and logos became entirely informed by Him in Whom all theology, morality, and truth are contained. Consequently, his Source was 100% reliable due to His 100% knowledge, all truth being the essence of His nature. Paul knew absolute truth by the absolute Source.

Paul’s appointment was divine, his authority both to go and to speak was imputed by Him Who is all authority. Paul was granted both the right and jurisdiction to speak to all and in every place in which Christ directed him. Paul’s travel was instructed by Christ Himself Who alternately led or impaired the progress of Paul’s journey. (ie: Acts 16:6)

As appointed by Christ for Christ’s particular service, Paul’s communication would be governed by Christ’s oversight. Having received his complete education in the gospel through Christ’s direct instruction – divine revelation – and his commissioning through Christ’s direction to go where He sent and to speak His message on His authority, if Paul had chosen to stray from the truth, the most sovereign Lord Who had divinely directed Paul’s life would not have permitted Paul to continue promoting a false message as though from Christ. Paul’s conversion and revelation were known to the entire region, being the evidence of his authenticity as he travelled throughout the land. The fact of his commissioning by Christ Himself was known abroad and without dispute; a perversion of Christ’s message shared by Paul would have necessarily been received as truth by his hearers on the basis of the knowledge of his miraculous conversion. Ananias and Sapphira were executed by God for their lie; a perverse gospel from Paul in whom Christ had worked ‘the signs of an apostle” (2 Cor 12:12) as the evidence of Christ’s approval of Paul as messenger, would have necessarily resulted in Paul being exposed by God as an apostate, and very likely resulted in his death.

Moreover, as the apostles publicly and promptly denounced other false teachers, if Paul’s message had become perverse, the other men would have renounced his apostasy throughout the Roman Empire. However Paul’s self-description as an apostle of Christ is borne witness by Peter who ascribed to Paul’s writings the qualification of Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16), and no historical record exists of any opposition to Paul among contemporary church leaders. Consequently, we can be confident without any hesitation that what Paul wrote as being from the Lord was truly God’s word to him, and through him to his readers, and that those things which he expressed as his own ideas were certainly informed by his intimate knowledge of Him Whom Paul was sent to represent. (1 Cor 7:12, 25)


Paul’s writings are truth, and carry the weight of divine authority. His gospel does not contradict Christ’s teaching as recorded in the gospels, but is consistent with it, and entirely led by Christ.