Paul begins this epistle introducing himself by name, and as a “servant of Jesus Christ…”  This word servant means more than what we commonly think when hearing the term, for in the Greek it means a bondslave.  This may seem an offensive concept to our modern ears, in part because we have swallowed years of propaganda and lies about slavery from the mass media, and in part because our democratic age thinks that the idea of being a slave is just about the most horrible thing that can be imagined.  The idea that I am not the perfect equal of anybody else has destroyed the humility and subjection to authority that is so much a part of true religion.  But this great apostle would not scruple to command slaves to live in obedience to their master, and neither would he, though a privileged freeborn Roman citizen, scruple to assume the status of a slave to his Lord Jesus Christ.  Christ had bought him, lock, stock, and barrel from the power of sin, the penalty of the law, and the dominion of Satan.  He considered himself as a debtor, not to live according to the flesh, but in absolute devotion to the Saviour that had purchased him with His own blood.  He would obey the Lord Jesus even as a loyal slave faithfully obeys the will of his master in every detail, no matter how small.  This is the spirit which animated the great apostle of the Gentiles, and it ought to characterize every Christian who enjoys the same benefits of redemption by the Son of God.

Though he could in one breath call himself a slave, indicative of his humility and absolute subjection to Christ, in the very next breath Paul could celebrate the high privilege of having been called to the great office of apostle by the same Lord.  It is impossible to imagine but that Paul daily, perhaps hourly, thought about the appearance of Christ to him on the road to Damascus.  He had been among the most vicious and inveterate of the enemies of Christ, yet in spite of all his hatred and persecution of the church, the Lord had claimed him for His own, appeared to him in person, and given him a commission to carry the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth.  Paul was astounded by this privilege, and rejoiced in the responsibility laid upon him.  He could do nothing else but proclaim this Gospel, and would consider it the greatest calamity imaginable to desist from it.

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