The Apostle Paul is widely acknowledged as the apostle called to minister to the Gentles. But do you know that in addition to the Gentiles, He was also called to minister to two other specific groups of people?
How did I know that? Because Jesus said so in the book of Acts of the Apostles.
Jesus speaks to Ananias about Paul
Speaking in a vision to Ananias, a certain disciple at Damascus, we have the following words from Jesus Christ:
“But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.”Acts 9:15-16
The ‘he’ referenced in the above Scriptures was Saul, later called Paul. And you can see that he was called to preach to three kinds of people.
Paul was the Lord’s chosen vessel to proclaim God’s name to:
- The Gentiles
- Kings (of Gentiles), and
- The Children of Israel.
Let us take a deeper look at each of the three groups:
1. Apostle Paul was called to minister to the Gentiles
In the days of Apostle Paul, non-Jews were referred to as Gentiles. In other words, Gentiles were people from other nations apart from Israel. And they were the main people Paul was called to reach with the gospel of Christ.
Paul himself was fully aware of his special calling to the Gentiles. In his letter to the Romans, Paul declared, “I am saying all this especially for you Gentiles. God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles. I stress this, for I want somehow to make the people of Israel jealous of what you Gentiles have, so I might save some of them” Romans 11:13-14, NLT.
“God has appointed me as the apostle to the Gentiles,” averred Paul. So he knew his calling to minister to non-Jews and he took it with all seriousness.
How I wish all believers will come to the point where each of us could say we know what God has appointed us to do and we are doing it.Tweet
While differentiating his calling from that of Peter, Paul also stated “God had given me the responsibility of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the responsibility of preaching to the Jews” Galatians 2:7.
But someone else also received the revelation about Paul’s calling to the Gentles, from the Lord; Ananias the Disciple at Damascus was the first person to know about Paul’s specific calling to the Gentiles. The Lord Jesus personally revealed it to him in a vision.
Anyone who doubts that Paul was called to the Gentiles has not studied the Bible well.
During the missionary journeys Paul embarked on, most of the cities he visited were Gentile cities. Apart from the letter written to the Romans, Paul’s various epistles to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians were all part and parcel of his ministry to believers in those Gentile nations.
2. Apostle Paul was called to minister to Constituted authorities
When Jesus spoke to Ananias on the calling of Paul, He had stated that Paul (then known as Saul) would preach to the Gentiles, to their Kings and to the Isrealites.
But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”Acts 9:15-16
The Gentile kings could be understood as the constituted political authorities of the day.
True to the divine mandate, Paul had cause to speak in defense of the Gospel before the political as well as religious authorities of the day. For instance, in Acts 24, we are told that “the high priest Ananias went down to Caesarea with some of the elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, and they brought their charges against Paul before the governor [Felix]”
Once Paul had the attention of the governor, he began to prove that he was innocent of the trumped-up charges against him. In addition, he also affirmed that he believed in God, and in the resurrection of the dead – both the wicked and the righteous.
On another occasion, Paul also privately preached to governor Felix and his wife. We have the account recorded as follows:
Several days later Festus came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.”Acts 24:24-25
Paul would later go on to stand before King Agrippa, the Roman procurator, Felix, top military men, further defending the cause of the gospel (see Acts 25-26). All of these confirms that Paul preached to the men at the helms of affair as commanded him by the Lord.
3. Apostle Paul was also called to minister to the people of Israel
Make no mistake about it; even though Apostle Paul was called to reach the Gentile nations and their kings, much of his ministry also went to his fellow Jewish people.
There were two ways Paul ministered to his Jewish community. One way was directly, the other way was indirectly. (I will explain this more in a subsequent post).
The first set of people Paul ever preached to after after his conversion were Jews. And it was a direct ministration.
How did I know that those people Paul first preached to were Jews?
I know it because Biblical records show that he preached to them in their synagogues – both in Damascus and in Jerusalem. And the people found in synagogues are usually Jews.
Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”
But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.Acts 9:20-22 NKJV
Over the course of his ministry, he often entered Jewish synagogues to preach Christ there – even if the synagogues were located in Gentile cities.
Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.Romans 11:14
Paul was divinely called to specific ministry to the Gentiles, their Kings and to the people of Israel. A proper look at his ministry cycles will show that he accomplished all these dimensions of his callings.
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