During Fall 2017, I taught Calvary Monterey the book of Ephesians. During the series, I also wrote about Ephesians in sixty-plus short, devotionally styled posts. Each Thursday, through 2018, I will release a post. I hope you enjoy. For the entire series, please visit nateholdridge.com/united-for-unity-posts.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 1:1–2).
Paul was custom made by God to bridge the Old Testament Scriptures to the New Testament church. He was called “the apostle to the Gentiles.” Billions of non-Jews have been blessed by his life and words. Aided by the Holy Spirit, He traveled and wrote extensively. Peter was God's instrument to open the door of faith to the Gentile world, but once it was opened, Paul ran through it, carrying the message of Christ to the known world. He was relentless.
But who was this man, our author?
- First, he was not Gentile, he was Jewish. He was of the tribe of Benjamin and loved his Jewish heritage.
- Second, he was a Pharisee. There were only about 600 of them by the time of Paul. Pharisees were a serious bunch, memorizers of Scripture, zealous for God. By the time of Paul they had grown to love the traditions of man more than the Word of God, but they had started well.
- Third, he was quite possibly a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, the ruling council over Israel, similar to a state senator. So Paul was likely involved in Israel’s political realm, a realm which operated under Rome’s supervision.
- Fourth, Paul was an intellectual, surpassing brilliant academics of his day. He was a prized student with great potential who had studied under the best rabbis of his day.
- Fifth, he was bilingual. This ability would have enabled him to travel and speak freely to the audiences God called him to.
- Sixth, he was from Tarsus, outside of Israel. Tarsus was “no obscure city,” and by Paul’s childhood had surpassed Athens and Alexandria as intellectual centers. Growing up in Tarsus would have meant Paul was not shocked by the way Gentiles lived their lives once he went out to preach in Gentile city centers.
- Seventh, Paul was a full Roman citizen, by birth. His father or grandfather may have done some heroic work for the empire, which might have bestowed citizenship upon the family. When Paul was born, he was born Roman, which meant he could travel freely under the protection of the Roman law.
Each of these seven attributes helped Paul become an ideal candidate to take Israel’s Scriptures and her Messiah and explain them to a predominantly Gentile church. He could fluently and expertly explain how the Jewish Christ came to save people of all nations. Paul was custom built for the work of advancing the gospel to the Gentile world.
Who has God custom created you to bring the gospel to? Paul was a bridge for many. We are to be a bridge for fewer, but we are to be a bridge. How has God formed and shaped your background and experiences and nationality and history for His kingdom and glory? Consider the elements of your life — your upbringing, your language, your education — for all of them have shaped you and your testimony. God has strategically placed you in this time and this space for His glory.