Here are seven important Bible verses that relate to the Apostle Paul.
Romans 1:1-2 “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures.”
Paul tells us all upfront just who did the calling and it wasn’t him. He became a servant, or as the Greek says, a slave for Jesus Christ. He was called, not by a church, but by Jesus Christ to be an apostle. He was set apart to be used by God to preach the gospel of God. This was promised long ago in the Old Testament by the prophets and only revealed in Jesus Christ in the gospels.
First Corinthians 15:9 “For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”
The reason that the Apostle Paul considered himself to be the least of the apostles may have been because he saw himself “as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me” (1st Cor 15:8), but it may have been due to the fact that Paul was an extremely humble man. He may have actually been the greatest of the apostles but he would never say that, although he did say “I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1st Cor 15:10) but he may have said that only because he did see himself as inferior to the other apostles because they had been with Christ during His earthly ministry.
Ephesians 3:8 “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
Here again the Apostle Paul’s words reflect his great humility and God’s great mercy as he considers himself, not only the least of the apostles (1st Cor 15:9) but “the very least of all saints.” Why? Maybe it was because he was such an enemy of the church in the beginning and realized that God’s love was so great because his sin was so great. When we see ourselves as we are (Jer 17:9), then we will see how great the Savior is.
Acts 20:24 “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
Paul must have known something that the Ephesian elders didn’t and that’s why he said, “And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again” (Acts 20:25) and so “there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again” (Acts 20:37-38). What a heartbreaking, yet tender image of how much they loved Paul. They had seen with their own eyes how he had been “serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:19-21).
Romans 7:15 “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”
Romans chapter 7 is one of the most reassuring chapters in the Bible because it gives us all hope. Here was a spiritual giant, the Apostle Paul, still struggling with sin and writes, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing” (Rom 7:19) and as if he is desperate, cries out, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death” (Rom 7:24) but then gives us the answer, writing “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 7:25a)! Don’t you still struggle with sin? We all do and we all will this side of heaven but there’s victory only in Jesus.
First Timothy 1:16 “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
This is the third verse where Paul humbly acknowledges that he sees himself as the foremost of sinners, but that’s probably because he was so close to God. The more we get to know God and the closer we get to Him, the more deplorable we see ourselves as a wicked, evil sinner…yet we are cleansed and made the very righteousness of God by Christ (2nd Cor 5:21). Paul is saved but he still honestly thinks of himself a sinner. Doesn’t that encourage you?
Second Timothy 4:16 “At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!”
In the Apostle Paul’s very last letter before his death, he writes, “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2nd Tim 4:6-8). Paul, in closing this last letter of his, confidently wrote: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (2nd Tim 4:18).
I love the Apostle Paul. He was considered the greatest missionary of his time and perhaps, in history, yet he still called himself the least of the apostles, the least of the saints, and the chief of sinners. This is why God used Paul so powerfully. God will never use anyone who has not first humbled themselves and made themselves small in their own eyes.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.