The Example And Commitment of Paul The Apostle
By John J. McCave
The scriptures teach us that there are two men in the New Testament that are our examples. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, who we are told that we are to walk in his steps.
I Peter 2: 21
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
But, surprisingly there is another example God gives us in His Word and that is the Apostle Paul.
I Corinthians 4: 16, 17
Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.
If it were not for the fact that I know and believe that God is the author of the Bible and that the men who penned it simply wrote what God wanted spoken, I would have to think that Paul was a very arrogant man to say, "be a follower of me." But, it is crystal clear that the scriptures stress that we are to be followers of Paul.
I Corinthians 11:1
Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.
I Thessalonians 1:6
And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
We are to be a follower of Paul because he was a magnificent example to us of how to walk in the steps of Christ. Paul, from the day in which we was converted never faltered in his commitment to what our Lord called him to do.
Acts 9: 19, 20
And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus.
And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God.
Paul went into the synagogues and preached Christ and not only preached but proving that Jesus was the Christ.
But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
Then, at the end of his life, imprisoned and forsaken by the believers he had so faithfully ministered to and taught in Asia Minor, knowing that he would be executed, he charged Timothy to continue the ministry with all that he had within him as he had done so faithfully for God.
II Timothy 4: 1 – 8
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
This great man fought a good fight; I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Paul never quit, he never fainted as it says in;
II Corinthians 4:1
Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
Paul had suffered much as our Lord told Ananias he would on the day of his conversion.
II Corinthians 11: 23 – 28
Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.
Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;
In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
As painful as this is to read and realize that this man suffered so much for the outreach of God's Word, it is not a complete list by any means. Paul also suffered from Jewish Christians who believed that the gentiles needed to keep the law. He suffered the loss of Barnabas, Apollos and Titus, who he called his true child in the faith. He suffered from the believers in Corinth where he spent more time ministering than any other church. And, Paul suffered the pain of other ministers trying to undermine him and steal the ministry.
You would think that a man who was rejected and whom people sought to beach and dishonor must have been a hard-liner, an obnoxious overbearing fellow. But, again the scriptures are emphatic and testify of Paul's demeanor and character.
I Corinthians 10:32, 33
Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
I Thessalonians 2: 7 – 12
But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:
So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.
Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:
As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,
That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
II Thessalonians 3: 7 – 9
For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;
Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:
Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.
Paul lived and walked in the steps of our Lord, Jesus Christ. He loved God's people as if they were his children. He taught them to be loving and kind, tenderhearted to all men, to be forgiving, like our Lord walked.
There are many Christians in churches today that would ask the question, "why did this happen to the Apostle Paul? Why did not God protect him and deliver him?"
The reason these Christians ask these questions and I have been asked these particular questions, the reason is because they are ignorant of the scripture. Now many of the people who asked me these questions they felt they believed and had read the bible, but the truth was they only read the parts of the bible that they liked, that made them feel good. Many Christian ministers today teach what I call a "feel good gospel, abundant living, healing, power, happiness and prosperity." Believe me, I am in favor of all these things, but they do not read the scriptures in context and give equal stress to what our Lord taught and also what Paul's life shows us by example.
John 15: 17 – 21
These things I command you, that ye love one another.
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.
II Timothy 3:12
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
As Christians we must understand that if we are persecuted and suffer because we are living Godly lives and speaking the Word, we should be joyful because all the prophets and great men of God also suffered the same and great will be your reward.
Matthew 5:10 – 12
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
So, how did Paul go through such stress and disappointment and pressures and not quit? I know if I were whipped a few times it might cross my mind. The answer is that Paul so understood the scriptures and what he understood was so real to him about the coming Kingdom of God, that he could endure this persecution.
Paul considered what was coming when our Lord returns and systematically and logically came to the conclusion that what he was enduring was in comparison a light affliction compared to the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
II Corinthians 4:17
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
Romans 8 also shows this same truth.
Romans 8: 18
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Paul had reckoned logically and calculated that what he was going through in this life was well worth the cost compared to what was coming. Paul looked forward to the day of our Lord’s return. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would receive a new body fashioned like unto our Lord’s glorious resurrected body. He believed that as Revelation 21:4 says;
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
He groaned within himself looking forward to the day he would be manifested as a son of God.
Romans 8: 19 – 24
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,
Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
We all groan waiting for the Hope of our Lord's return, when he will reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and we shall reign with him as kings and priests on the earth for a thousand years, and God’s righteousness will be established on the earth. Even the creation itself will be healed and returned to the paradise-like state as God intended it to be in the beginning. What a day that will be!
I have never met or heard of a man who suffered as much as Paul suffered. I know I have not. But, if I want to be able to endure whatever this life throws at me, whether it comes from the devil or people we love, we need to make the hope of the coming Kingdom living and real in our heart so we have the strength and commitment to stand as did our great example, Paul.