Whether Jew or Gentile, Christians today owe much to the apostle Paul. One reason is that much of the New Testament proceeds from his teachings to the early church. However, Paul himself tells us,
“for you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called, but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things that are not to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.”
We see from these verses that God provides the call and chooses what and who will bring glory to Him. He chose Paul. We better understand His chosen vessel as we read about his background, his encounter with Jesus the Christ and the call to preach.
We first read about Paul in Acts. He is, as a young man named Saul, watching as the God filled man called Stephen is being stoned to death. He not only watches, but he also consents to it. Paul is a Hebrew, an Israelite, descended from the seed of Abraham. He is beyond many of his contemporaries in Judaism and is more zealous than a lot of them when it comes to the traditions of their fathers. Therefore, He desires to destroy the church of God, and tries to wipe it out through persecution.
Encounter with Jesus the Christ
It so happens however, that God had a plan. He set Paul apart from his mother’s womb and called him through His grace. So, one day when Paul is dragging people out of their homes and making havoc among the new believers, he goes to the High Priest to gain authority to do further damage. However on his way, a light shone around him, which put him on the ground. Then he hears a voice addressing him by name. “Saul, Saul” and asking the question, “why are you persecuting Me?” The men with him heard something but did not see anything. But Paul responded to the voice, “Who are you Lord?” It is then Jesus tells Saul He is the One he is persecuting and points out something personal. Upon hearing, Saul asks what He wants him to do. Paul then follows the direction to get up and go into the city. One problem, however, exists, he has lost his sight and for three days he is without food or drink. Therefore, the Lord sends him a man named Ananias to enable him to receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
The Call to Preach
The Lord tells Ananias that Saul is His chosen vessel. He further tells him that Saul will take His name to Gentiles, Kings and the children of Israel. Once Saul is strengthened he begins to preach in the synagogues about the Christ, the Son of God. He does so to the extent to which he becomes the wanted man. God however has a work for him to do and while in prayer one day the Holy Spirit tells the disciples to separate Barnabas and Saul for the work He has called them to do. From this point on, we see he is referred to as Paul and he begins the missionary journeys. Paul claims himself to be an apostle for he also saw the Christ. He however, esteems himself to be the least of them due to having persecuted the church. By the grace of God he is who he is. His abundant labour he says is by the grace of God. The word is preached and people believe.
The Bible tells us many things about this chosen vessel. In it all, we see a man who binds himself to the Lord Jesus and fulfills the call of God on his life; a man with a background, who encountered the resurrected Jesus the Christ and left with a call to preach.