That’s the answer Paul gives to critics who say he isn’t in the same league as Jesus’ disciples-a dozen men who share the highest office in the early church. The closest the Bible comes to defining apostle is when the word first shows up-when Jesus” 11 disciples search for someone to replace Judas. Candidates must come “from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus-from the time he was baptized by John until the day he was taken from us” (Acts 1:21-22). There’s no hint that Paul ever met Jesus during that time. Paul didn’t even convert until about five years after
Jesus died. Yet Paul insists he’s 100 percent apostle. He’s clearly working with a different definition. The Greek word means “send.” Jesus sent his disciples on a mission: “You will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere-in Jerusalem, throughout, Judea, In Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). After appearing to Paul on the road to Damascus, Jesus did much the same to him, declaring Paul “my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles” (Acts 9:15). Paul insists he was sent by Jesus-and he could prove it.
- “Even if others think I am not an apostle, I certainly am to you. You yourselves are proof that I am the Lord’s apostle” (1 Cor 9:2)
- “When I was with you, I certainly gave you proof that I am an apostle. For I patiently did many signs and wonders and miracles among you” (2 Cor 12:12).