Paul a servant of Jesus Christ
As I start this study of Paul, I would like to describe the Paul I have came to know from studying his epistles for the last fifty years. I start with Romans chapter one verse one. I believe that Paul would have the same view that I have of Psalm 40.
This is one of my favorite psalms with verse six being the key verse that I use to understand this psalm. The writer of Hebrews in chapter 10 verses 5-7 reference this psalm as verses that portrays the earthly ministry of Christ. Hebrews 10:5-7 “Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll I have come to do your will, O God.'” Another section to consider is Deuteronomy 15:6,7 ”
But if your servant says to you, ‘I do not want to leave you,’ because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, then take an awl and push it through his ear lobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life.” which is the piercing that I believe that verse six reference. Deuteronomy fifteen is God’s instruction to Israel on how they should handle the canceling of debts. Verse one states “At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts” so Israel was to forgive debts every seven years. With this verse in mind look at the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:12 “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” here we are instructed to forgive others. Debt gives us power, it gives us control over someone, however by releasing the debt we no longer hold the debtor responsible for the debt. Yet so often we go through the process of forgiving, but do not really release our debtors. We have a way of reminding them that they do not have to repay the debt but that they are still in debt to us; since we did forgive the debt that they owed us. In the same way a lot of believer put God in this category of forgiving debt, but we still owe God. However, in Deuteronomy 15 this is not the true picture of debt forgiveness. Debts are forgiven completely just as our sins are remember no more.
Now for the true meaning of verse six of this psalm I believe Paul states it best in Romans 12:1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Yes, Christ paid the debt for us, yet because of our love for him and knowing that we cannot make it on our own in this world we turn our life back over to God. We make God our master and not self.
This is why I believe Paul started Romans 1:1 as Paul a servant of Jesus instead of Paul an apostle of Christ. Yes he was an apostle and had the authority of apostleship, but he considered himself as a servant first.