Eph 1:1-2, “Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians is one of Paul’s “Prison Epistles” written around 61 A.D. Like the letter to the Galatians which we have previously studied, in this letter, Paul established his apostolic authority by saying, “an Apostle of Christ Jesus,” ἀπόστολος APOSTOLOS, Χριστός CHRISTOS, Ἰησοῦς IESOUS.
APOSTOLOS is an Attic Greek word that was already 500 years old when used in the New Testament. It was originally used for a high‑ranking admiral or general officer chosen by a council to command either an army or an Athenian fleet on a military expedition, generally against the Spartans. Therefore, it was an admiral or supreme commander, one who has the highest rank. Its other meaning was used less extensively for a group or band sent out in the military or as colonists. HO APOSTOLOS was used for whoever was in command of a band of Greek colonists when they would leave Athens and go elsewhere to establish a Greek colony. The governor of the founded colony was called an APOSTOLOS.
APOSTOLOS is a noun from the verb APOSTELLOO, which is a compound word from APO, a preposition and primary particle meaning, “from or away from” and STELLOO a primary verb meaning, “to arrange, prepare, or gather up.” Therefore, APOSTELLOO comes to mean, “to send or send away.” Likewise, APOSTOLOS comes to mean, “a messenger, he that is sent or one sent on a mission.” It is transliterated and used for an Apostle, a delegate, specifically an ambassador of the Gospel and officially a commissioner of Christ with miraculous powers. It was specifically applied to the twelve Apostles of Christ and in a broader sense applied to other eminent Christian teachers like Barnabas, Timothy, and Silvanus. Therefore, Paul was one sent out by Jesus Christ as his messenger or spokesperson.
The Doctrine of Apostleship
Apostleship is the highest spiritual gift ever to exist in the church. It is sovereignly bestowed by the Holy Spirit to certain individuals, 1 Cor 12:11, 28; Eph 4:11.
Apostleship was a temporary gift designed to carry the church until the canon of Scripture was completed. It had the highest rank of authority and such an authority did not exist until the completion of the New Testament. Now the absolute authority is the New Testament. The gift carried absolute authority in both written and verbal communication of doctrine.
The Time of Appointment. The Apostles for the Church Age were appointed after the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Eph 4:8, 11. Hence, they must be distinguished from the Apostles to Israel in Mat 10:2ff.
The Extent of the Gift. This spiritual gift exercised authority over all the local churches. Once the canon was completed, the gift was removed. Today, all local churches are autonomous with authority vested in the canon and the local Pastor-Teacher.
The Qualification of Apostles. Apostles had to be eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Christ. This qualified the eleven and Paul was qualified on the Damascus road, Acts 1:22; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:8-9. Paul saw the resurrected Christ on the Damascus road according to Acts 9:3‑6; 22:6‑11; 26:13‑18. Then He appeared to Paul again in Arabia. Then He appeared to Paul in the Temple, Acts 9:26‑30; 22:17‑21. Finally, He appeared to Paul in prison, Acts 23:11. So, Paul saw the resurrected Christ on four different occasions.
The Authority of the Apostles was established by the possession of certain temporary gifts which went with it. Every Apostle also had the gift of miracles, healing, and tongues. These were spectacular type gifts, which he had to use to establish his authority when he went to certain places, Acts 5:15; 16:16-18; 28:8-9. These gifts do not exist today. Once the Apostle’s authority was established in an area, he did not use these gifts anymore, and eventually when the Apostles’ authority were all established, these gifts were removed.
The Roster of Apostles. We have the eleven, minus Judas Iscariot. Matthias was elected, Acts 1:26, but he was not an Apostle. Man cannot superimpose his will on God’s will ever. The twelfth Apostle is Paul, 1 Cor 15:7-10. He is the one whom God appointed to replace Judas Iscariot.
There Were Others Who had Delegated Authority from the Apostles, and therefore in a sense exercised from apostolic authority when they were sent on apostolic missions. They include Barnabas, Acts 14:14; Gal 2:9; James, the Lord’s half-brother, 1 Cor 15:7; Gal 1:19; Apollos, 1 Cor 4:6, 9; Sylvanus and Timothy, 1 Thes 1:1; 2:6, etc.
In addition, Paul notes that his apostolic authority is from the Sovereign “will of God,” θέλημα THELMA, θεός THEOS, and has nothing to do with his own merits. This was the “Directive Will” of God the Father to send Paul to the Gentile nations to establish the early Church. It also conveys that it was part of God’s Plan from eternity past, as part of His “Divine Purpose” inside His Divine Decree, and therefore also becomes His desire.
Therefore, Paul became an Apostle as a result of the sovereign decision of Jesus Christ according to Eph 4:11. Paul was given the spiritual gift by the Holy Spirit according to 1 Cor 12:11. Paul did not become an Apostle, go on his missionary journeys, or write his Epistles on his own accord, but by the leading and guiding ministry of God from eternity past. As an Apostle, Paul was commissioned and sent by God with the Gospel message. Thus, he had God’s authority behind him and this letter. Cf. 1 Tim 1:12-14.
Background of Paul, PAULOS.
The name “Paul” comes from the Latin and means, “small or little.” Paul was first known for many years as Saul of Tarsus, Acts 9:11; 21:39; 22:3. Saul means, “asked for.” He was born to Jewish parents in the city of Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia, a Roman province in the south-east of Asia Minor. He was the son of a Pharisee and became a Pharisee himself, Acts 23:6. In the book of Philippians, he states that he “was a Hebrew of Hebrews, and from the tribe of Benjamin,” Phil 3:4-5. Scripture also tells us of his sister and his sister’s son, Acts 23:16, and of other relatives he had, Rom 16:7, 11-12.
At a young age, he went to Jerusalem, and studied at one of the great seminaries of his day and was taught by the well-known rabbi Gamaliel, a noted teacher in the School of Hillel, Acts 22:3. In his studies, he advanced in the religion of the Jews beyond many of his fellows, being one who was “extremely zealous for his ancestral traditions,” Gal 1:14.
It appears that by Paul’s acquaintance with Greek culture and their thinking, being familiar with many of the sayings of classical and contemporary writers, he was also a Greek by culture, having evidently received a Greek education, cf. Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12. Paul had also been taught the trade of tent-making as a youth, Acts 18:3, which he used to support himself during his missionary journeys. Finally, Paul was a Roman citizen, being Roman born, Acts 16:37-39; 22:25-29.
His zeal as a religious Jew led him to zealously persecute the early church. As a young Pharisee, he was present and in agreement when Stephen was stoned and murdered, Acts 7:58-8:3; Gal 1:13. In his persecution against Christians, both men and women, he traveled with letters of arrest from the high priest, from city to city, to destroy the church of Jesus Christ, Acts 26:10–11.
It was on one of these missions that Saul was converted to true faith while on the road to Damascus, Acts 9:1f; 22:6f; 26:12-18. The Lord knew that he was uniquely qualified to be the one chosen to carry the message of the Gospel to the Gentiles, as Paul could easily say, “I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some,” 1 Cor 9:22.
Having energetically and consistently persecuted the church of Jesus Christ, while on the road to Damascus, Paul had an encounter with the glorified resurrected Christ, which dramatically changed his life. He had denied the Christian claim that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. Further, he did not believe that He had risen from the dead as Stephen had proclaimed when he was being stoned to death, Acts 7:56, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” But when the Lord spoke to Saul on that day, he knew that Stephen had been right and that he had been wrong. Jesus was the Messiah, He was alive, and He must be the Son of God. Soon thereafter, in the synagogues of Damascus, he proclaimed Christ as Savior, Acts 9:1f; 22:6f; 26:12-18.
Prepared for Ministry.
Paul did not go out right away to evangelize the early church. It was many years after his conversion that He began his full ministry, Gal 1:16-23. He spent three years in Arabia being personally taught by the Lord, and then returned to Damascus, and he began to preach the gospel, Acts 9:27. Then according to Gal 1:18, he went to Jerusalem because of persecution and stayed there for fifteen days, before persecution there chased him away, Acts 9:20-30; 2 Cor 11:33. He then went back to his home territory of Tarsus, Acts 9:30; Gal 1:21, and for a period of three or even up to ten years, (scholars differ on the amount of time he remained alone in Tarsus), little is known of his activities. Then Barnabas, being sent to Antioch to oversee the ministry there, remembered Paul and sought him out in Tarsus to bring him back to Antioch and assist in the ministry. About a year later, they were sent out on their first missionary journey, Acts 13:1-3.
Paul had three missionary journeys that are noted in the book of Acts. Each being larger than the previous, Acts 13:1-14:28; 15:36-18:22; 18:23-21:14. It is also assumed that he went on a fourth that is not documented in Scripture.
In the late 40s AD, Paul founded churches in the southern Galatian cities of Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe in Acts 13:14-14:23. At Pisidian Antioch, Acts 13:14-50; Iconium, Acts 13:51-14:7; cf. 16:2; Lystra, Acts 14:8-19; cf. 16:2; and Derbe, Acts 14:20, 21; cf. 16:1.
Paul’s First Missionary Journey, Acts 13:1-14:28.
These cities, although within the Roman province of Galatia, were not in the ethnic Galatian region. There is no record of Paul’s founding churches in that northern, less populated region.
There are two uses of the word Galatia, one for political or geographic use, and the other for ethnic use, which make it difficult to determine who the original recipients of the Epistle were. Some interpret Galatia in its strict racial sense and argue that Paul addressed this Epistle to churches in the northern Galatian region, inhabited by the ethnic descendants of the Gauls. Although, the Apostle apparently crossed the border into the fringes of ethnic Galatia on at least two occasions, Act 16:6; 18:23, Acts does not record that he founded any churches or engaged in any evangelistic ministry there.
Paul’s Second Missionary Journey, Acts 15:36-18:22.
Paul’s Third Missionary Journey Acts 18:23-21:14.
Doctrine of Paul’s Fourth Missionary Journey
By R.B. Thieme Jr.
Upon his acquittal in 63‑64 AD, Paul was released, and he traveled east to Asia minor by way of Macedonia. This means that in 58 AD, when he wrote the roman church, it was a vigorous church. But four years later, they had lost their vigor. They could not send Paul west. He had to go back to the churches which could still send out missionaries, Phil 2:24; Philemon 22. Sometimes you have to go backward in order to go forward. You have to be disciplined, before you can advance.
This means that Paul traveled by land. Paul went to Colossi, to which he had never been. He also went to Philippi and Ephesus. Paul had not previously visited the Lycus valley, but felt it necessary to do so, because he had never seen what the indigenous movement could do totally without his influence. Also, Gnosticism was there.
During 64 AD, towards the end of the year, he traveled west to Spain, Rom 15:24, 28. Paul embarked from Ephesus to Marseille, France. He did not stop at Rome, because Nero had burned Rome and blamed the Christians. This was another reason why Paul had to go east first, because Nero was hunting for him in the west.
From Marseille, where Paul established a mission station, he crossed to Cadis, Spain and served two years in Spain, 64‑66 AD.
From Spain, he returned to Ephesus where he had left Timothy.
He then went to Macedonia and wrote back to Timothy in 1 Tim. At this time, Paul also wrote to Titus in Crete. Trouble broke out all over the empire. So, Paul started leaving people at the hot spots. Trophemus was left at Miletus; Erastus at Corinth.
Paul then went to Nicopolis of Epirus (a province on the western coast of Greece), Titus 3:12, and spent the winter there, 67‑68 AD.
In chains, he was brought to Rome and wrote his last letter to Timothy in June, 68 AD. A few days later he was killed. Except for Luke, Paul was alone at this time.
Paul knew he was condemned before the trial. He knew he would die painlessly under dying grace, 2 Tim 2:9.
The Pauline team of missionaries had been dispersed.
- Timothy was at Ephesus, 1 Tim 1:3.
- Titus was at Crete, Titus 1:4‑5.
- Trophimus was at Miletus, 2 Tim 4:20.
- Erastus was at Corinth, 2 Tim 4:20.
- Crescens was in Galatia, 2 Tim 4:10.
- Titus (not the same as above) was in Dalmatia, 2 Tim 4:10.
- Tychicus was in Ephesus, 2 Tim 4:12.
A brief account of Paul’s trial is given in 2 Tim 4:6‑8, 14‑17. Between the trial and execution, Paul wrote 2 Tim. He died on Via Ostia, a few blocks out of town. A few days later, Nero was assassinated for this by the Praetorian Guard, thus ending the Claudio‑Julian line.
After completing his fourth missionary journey, Paul traveled to Jerusalem where he was arrested and sent to Rome where he was imprisoned, Acts 21:15 through the rest of the book. He was released for a short time and then rearrested and imprisoned in Rome. At that time, the emperor Nero sentenced him to death. Around 67-68 A.D., he was lead outside the city of Rome on the Ostian Road, a few blocks out of town and was beheaded. Some say a few days later, Nero was assassinated for this by the Praetorian Guard, thus ending the Claudio‑Julian line.
Fox’s Book of Martyrs – Paul
“Paul, the Apostle, who before was called Saul, after his great travail and unspeakable labors in promoting the Gospel of Christ, suffered also in this first persecution under Nero. Abdias, declareth that under his execution, Nero sent two of his esquires, Ferega and Parthemius, to bring him word of his death. They, coming to Paul instructing the people, desired him to pray for them, that they might believe; who told them that shortly after they should believe and be baptized at His sepulcher. This done, the soldiers came and led him out of the city to the place of execution, where he, after his prayers made, gave his neck to the sword.”
All of this is what led Paul to proclaim in 1 Timothy 1:12-17, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”