8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things,
Reflection On This Scripture
How can Paul say he is the least of all the saints? This guy wrote almost half of the New Testament letters, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, some of which are the most profound writings in the Bible. He operated in healing, deliverance and teaching ministry that seemed to surpass any other New Testament believer. He planted numerous churches throughout Asia while encouraging the body of Christ from Jerusalem to Rome. Through his ministry in Asia at Ephesus, Luke writes in Acts 19:10 that in only two years, “all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.”
Even before he followed Jesus, this man was not a “nobody.” He had been born a true Jew, reared a true Jew, trained in the strictest Pharisaic viewpoint of Judaism, and still remained a true Jew living above reproach according to the strictest observances of the Jewish religion. His zeal for the law was unparalleled and he even had Roman citizenship from birth. So, how could this man claim to be the “very least of all the saints?”
Let’s allow him to answer our question. I Corinthians 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. And I Timothy 5:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
D.A. Carson in his commentary on the book of Ephesians says, “Paul deliberately exaggerates that he is the foremost sinner (from I Tim 5:15) to magnify the marvel of the grace of God that made him apostle to the Gentiles with a gospel concerning the unfathomable treasure of Christ, and with a significance of cosmic proportions.”
Paul saw the gravity of his own sin and the glorious wonder of God’s grace and lived in that tension which kept him a worshipper of the glory of God, enabling him to proclaim the gospel as unsearchable riches. He remained burdened, by God’s gracious Spirit within him, to see people “enlightened” by the gospel. How about you?
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