(1) “PAUL, A SERVANT OF JESUS CHRIST, CALLED TO BE AN APOSTLE, SEPARATED UNTO THE GOSPEL OF GOD,”
The phrase, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,” in effect, has Paul labeling himself as a “bondslave” of Christ. This refers to one who is the entire property of another (Mat. 20:27; I Cor. 6:19–20; II Cor. 4:5).
As well, if it matters, Paul is the only one of the Bible Writers who discarded his Jewish name (Saul) for his Gentile name.
Actually, his Gentile name gains the ascendancy on his first Missionary Journey as he deals with the Roman Officer on Cyprus, and thereafter marks him out as the Apostle to the Gentiles, which was his Calling (Acts, Chpt. 13).
The word “servant” or “doulos” in the Greek Text, actually denotes, as stated, a slave, even in the most abject and servile of meanings.
The word designated one who was born as a slave, one who was bound to his master in cords so strong that only death could break them, one who served his master to the disregard of his own interests, one whose will was swallowed up in the will of his master.
Paul was born a slave of sin at his physical birth, and a bondslave of his Lord through Regeneration. The cords that bound him to his old master Satan, were rent asunder in his identification with Christ in the latter’s death. The cords that bind him to his new Master will never be broken since the new Master will never die again, and is Paul’s New Life, and ours as well, I might quickly add.
Paul’s will, at one time swallowed up in the will of Satan, now is swallowed up in the sweet Will of God. In this he calls himself “A bondslave of Christ Jesus.”
Actually, there were certain individuals in the Roman Empire designated “Slaves of the Emperor.” This was a position of honor. One finds a reflection of this in Paul’s act of designating himself as a slave of the King of kings. If one is to notice, he even puts this ahead of his Apostleship (Wuest).
The phrase, “Called to be an Apostle,” actually says in the Greek “A called Apostle.”
The word “called” in the Greek is “kletos” and means “called to an Office and Divinely selected and appointed to fill it” (I Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:15). In other words, his calling came from the very Highest Source, the Lord Himself.
In fact, the three statements of verse 1, emphasize the Apostle’s independency of the Twelve at Jerusalem, or anyone else for that matter. He was chosen by the Holy Spirit. He was not their servant, neither was he chosen by them to be an Apostle, nor ordained by them to preach the Gospel.
However, in no way is the Salutation meant to impugn the Twelve, or anyone else for that matter, but is simply meant to state that God is the One Who does the calling, and as it held true for Paul, it holds true for all others as well.
Paul wished to emphasize, for the sake of his authority and the authority which his position would give the letter he was writing, that he was already in possession of the Office of the Apostle, and exercising the authority it conferred upon him. The word “Apostle” means “sent on a commission.” The noun was used of an envoy, namely, one sent on a commission to represent another person, the person sent being given credentials and the responsibility of carrying out the orders of the one sending him. Actually, our word “Ambassador” adequately translates it. Paul thought of himself as an “Ambassador of the King of kings” (Wuest).
The idea and tenor of Acts and the Epistles regarding all those called by God, always denote the Call as independent of human instrumentation; consequently, the Called one must answer first of all to God. In fact, the only thing the Called one owes to his brother and sister in Christ, and this would hold true for all Believers, is to “Love one another” (Rom. 13:8).
Of course, and as should be overly obvious, if one truly loves another, one would never do anything to hurt or to harm that person in any fashion.