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Paul begins this letter much like he begins all the letters that have been written for our encouragement and instruction. He refers to himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ and a bond-servant of God. Paul boldly proclaims that he was entrusted with the proclamation of the gospel for the faith of those chosen of God. We read these words from Paul in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
How can Paul claim this authority?
The Authority of the Scriptures
We must use the authority of the Scriptures to understand and believe that what Paul had proclaimed was true. The scriptures are all that we have and they are all that we need. Saying that, let’s look at what the scriptures do say about Paul.
Sometimes we need to go through the back door to get to the front door, so let’s go back to Acts chapter 9 where we find the account of Saul’s/Paul’s conversion. Here we will learn from Whom he obtained his authority.
Acts chapter 9 opens with Saul/Paul breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. Paul was on his way to Damascus to obtain letters from the High Priest, to get written permission and authority to carry out his mission. If he found any belonging to the Way, “Followers of Christ”, he could bring them back to Jerusalem to be persecuted. We learn from Acts 22:5 and 26:16 that he was on a mission to imprison and punish the followers of Christ. Not only did he lock up and punish the saints, he also cast his vote to put them to death. We have a glimpse of this as we encounter the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7:51-61 and Acts 8:1-3. In the book of Galatians Paul writes to the church of Galatia about his persecution of the church of God and how he tried to destroy it. Galatians 1:13.
The one who once persecuted the church will become one of its greatest defenders! By the authority of God.
The Authority of God
“The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9.
Reading further into Acts chapter 9 we see that God had a different plan for Saul/Paul. As Saul was traveling to Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. Saul fell to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Acts 9:4. Saul responds by saying, “Who are You, Lord?” Jesus answers, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” Acts 9:4. After this, he was instructed to enter the city, and there he would be told what to do.
The Lord Jesus appeared to a man named Ananias and confirms to him that Saul is His chosen instrument to bear His name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the sons of Israel. Acts 9: 10-19. Ananias did as the Lord had instructed, he went to Saul and after laying his hands on him the scales that were on his eyes fell to the ground. Saul regained his sight and was baptized. He immediately began to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God in the synagogues. Later in Galatians 1:1 Paul lets the believers know that he was not sent by men, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father. In Ephesians 3:1-3 we learn that Paul claims to be a prisoner of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles and that his stewardship had been given by God’s grace. He had received it through a revelation.
After searching through the scriptures we can see that Paul received his authority from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ to proclaim the Gospel.
Authority: Is the power or right to: give orders, make decisions, enforce obedience. We can see by looking intently at the Scriptures that God had given this authority to Paul. Now that we have an understanding of Paul and His God-given authority, we will look at the rest of this book. Learning, as a believer, how we are to conduct ourselves inside the walls of the church building and on the outside, in the world.
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