16 May 2021: Paul, called to be an apostle

Bethel Baptist Church
Worship Service @ Home
16 May 2021

Service available on Youtube, or as text (below), or for audio see the Podcasts page.


Please keep Saturday 31 July 2021 free for a special celebration: opening up after Covid. More details to follow.


I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.

Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles – only James, the Lord’s brother. I assure you before God that what I am writing to you is no lie. Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they praised God because of me.

Paul the Apostle, Galatians 1:11-24 (NIV)


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Reading: Romans 1:1-17

Paul, … called to be an apostle …

Romans 1:1


Last week we looked at “Paul the servant of Christ Jesus”; this week at “Paul called to be an apostle”.

(1) “Apostle”

First, let’s look at the meaning of “apostle” and then look at the believers “calling”. The word for “apostle”, means messenger, a delegate, one sent on behalf of another. The requirements to be an apostle were that he had:

(a) Seen the risen Lord

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?

1 Cor. 9:1

Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all He appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

1 Cor. 15:7-8

Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.

Acts 1:21-22

(b) Been called by the Lord to be an apostle

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also designated apostles.

Luke 6:12-13

Then I asked, “Who are you, Lord?” “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” the Lord replied. “Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

Acts 26:15-18

(c) Authority to perform signs, wonders and miracles

I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles.

2 Cor. 12:12

(d) Authority in mission to establish churches

Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? You are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.

1 Cor. 9:1-2

… His household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.

Eph. 2:20

(e) The evidence of God at work in him as an apostle

For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles.

Gal. 2:8

(f) Authority to speak and write words of God

I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Saviour through your apostles.

2 Peter 3:2

If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.

1 Cor. 14:37

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Tim. 3:16-17

(2) “Called”

The word used for “call”

“in common parlance would denote one who had been invited to a meal … which also has the stronger force of ‘summon’ …”

James Dunn

So God summons His people, He calls them and from then on the lives of His people are changed, transformed and determined by that call. God draws people into His

“ongoing purpose by the power of that call”

(James Dunn).

So all those who are in Christ have been called by Him, they are “the called”.


Spend a few moments in quiet and think about the Lord calling your name.

We may be surprised to see the number of Scriptures relating to the call of God:

  1. Called to be saved (2 Thess. 2:13-14)
  2. Called to belong to Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:6) – called into fellowship with Jesus (1 Cor. 1:9)
  3. Called to be holy (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 2; 1 Thess. 4:7; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Pet. 1:15–16; Eph. 4:1)
  4. Called according to God’s purposes (Rom. 8:28)
  5. Called to experience the power and wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24)
  6. Called to freedom from religious slavery (Gal. 5:13)
  7. Called when far away (Acts 2:39) and when weak and lowly (1 Cor. 1:26-30)
  8. Called to live in the grace of Christ (Gal. 1:6)
  9. Called to one hope (Eph. 1:18; 4:4)
  10. Called to live in peace (1 Cor. 7:15; cf. Col. 3:15)
  11. Called to share in the glory of Christ (2 Thess. 2:14; 1 Peter 5:10)
  12. Called to eternal life (1 Tim. 6:12; Heb. 9:15)
  13. Called to praise Him (1 Peter 2:9)
  14. Called to repay evil with blessing (1 Pet. 3:9)
  15. Called to participate in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4)
  16. Called into His kingdom (1 Thess 2:12)

And remember:

The One who calls you is faithful and He will do it!

1 Thess. 5:24

There isn’t the space to look at all these but we will briefly look at:

(3) Called according to His purposes

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brothers and sisters. And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.

Rom. 8:28, 30

God is working, in and through all things, for good and Paul’s life was one of the greatest examples of this. God has called people to be the recipients of His grace and for those who respond and love Him He will work all things according to His purposes and for good.

“Believers rest in the assurance that their part in the people of God is not accidental or random, but part of a divine purpose whose outworking was already clearly envisaged from the beginning.”

James Dunn

That calling is a calling to be conformed to the image of His Son. A work which will go on right through to His Second Coming,

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Cor. 3:18

who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.

Phil. 3:21

And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

1 Cor. 15:49

Questions for Discussion

  1. Do you regard yourself as one of “the called”?
  2. Share an experience of being called by God?
  3. How has the call of God changed your life?
  4. Some will only read the Gospels and won’t submit to the writings of the apostle? Discuss!
  5. God chooses; God brings about His purposes; God calls; People respond. Discuss!

Quote for the Week

“If a man is called to be a street-sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street-sweeper who did his job well.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Verse of the week

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:10-11

Let’s Pray

Heavenly Father, we thank You that You have called each one of us into Your heavenly and eternal kingdom. We thank You for the grace and faith to respond to You.

Help us, Your Church, to live lives that are worthy of that calling and to make every effort to make our calling and election sure.

Father, You are faithful and we are confident in You, that the work You have begun in us through Your Son Jesus Christ, You will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ return, so help us to respond accordingly, in and through Jesus Christ, Amen.