Was Paul an apostle?
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Question: In the book of Galatians Paul writes that he was an apostle not of or by men. What does this mean?
Answer: In most of the introductions to his letters Paul claimed to be an apostle (Strong's Concordance Number #G652, meaning 'one who is sent' or a messenger). He attributed this calling to God or Jesus Christ or both (see the first few Bible verses of Romans, 1Corinthians, 2Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1Timothy, etc.). Only in the book Galatians does he insert the parenthetical statement: "not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead . . ." (Galatians 1:1, NKJV)
Commenting on the first verse of Galatians Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament: states: "The bluntness of Paul's denial is due to the charge made by the Judaizers that [he] was not a genuine apostle because [he was] not one of the twelve." B.W. Johnson, author of The Peoples New Testament states, "...this Epistle [Galatians] was written on account of the disturbance made among the churches of Galatia by false teachers. These teachers sought to prepare a way for their doctrines by discrediting Paul. If they admitted that he was an apostle at all, they claimed that he was inferior to Peter and the Twelve; that he had received his gospel from them, and hence all must look to Jerusalem for the true gospel. "
Dr. John Gill in his Exposition of the Old and New Testaments additionally says about the claim of apostleship: "[he] asserts himself to be an apostle, which was the highest office in the church, to which he was immediately called by Christ, and confirmed in it by signs and wonders. This he chose to mention, because of the false teachers, who had insinuated he was no apostle, and not to be regarded . . ."
Before his conversion Paul was a ZEALOUS persecutor of Christians. He went after Christians in Jerusalem then set a goal to arrest any he found in Damascus. While traveling to the city he sees a vision and hears the voice of Jesus. Blinded, he makes his way to Damascus and soon repents of what he has done. After three days without sight God instructs a disciple named Ananias to visit and heal him. Ananias is initially reluctant to heal Paul's eyes due to his notorious reputation for persecuting Christians. God's response to him confirms the very special nature of Paul's calling and leaves no doubt that he was sent to preach the gospel:
"But the Lord said to him, (Ananias) '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, NKJV)
He was indeed made an apostle directly by God!