Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw Him. For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church. But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out His special favour on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by His grace.1 Corinthians 15:8-10
Why did Paul regard himself as the least of the apostles? Remember what we looked at yesterday, Paul didn’t regard himself as unworthy to be an apostle because he was not as well trained as other apostles. Paul’s training as an apostle was not through the normal channels. But in fact he tells us in Philippians 3:4-7 that his training was the best it could be. No, that was not the reason why he felt inadequate. Was it because he had not seen Jesus face to face like the other apostles had? No, indeed as we saw yesterday, likely as not he saw Jesus face to face on the Damascus road. Now that was pretty special. Oh admittedly not the on-going connection that others had had. As we saw yesterday, Bloomfield and Wetstein feel it was because he was puny, and of small stature because of the premature start he had to life.
The words most often associated with ektrōma and its background are vile, offensive, loathsome, unworthy, guilty, unworthy and abominable. The following verse shows that this is the sense in which the word is used. “For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.” Paul’s reason for thinking of himself as an “abortion of a apostle” is that he persecuted the church the way he did. It is clear what is in Paul’s mind as to why he views himself as “an abortion of a man”. What is interesting is Paul’s view of himself.
Look carefully at the following verses:
For I am the least of all the apostles. In fact, I’m not even worthy to be called an apostle after the way I persecuted God’s church.1 Corinthians15:9
Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, He graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ.Ephesians 3:8
This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all.1 Timothy 1:15
These verses are in the chronological order in which Paul wrote them. Notice the direction, the pattern involved here.
Least of the apostles –> least of the saints –> worst of sinners
Wow “least out of the twelve”, that’s not bad. Oh come on Paul, “least of the saints”, least of the people of God, I don’t think so. You are right up the top. Worst of sinners – ouch, that’s a bit heavy. If you are the worst of sinners, Paul, where does that leave me?
The older and wiser Paul got the more clearly he saw himself and his flesh. Reminds us of the concepts coming out of Romans doesn’t it?
That is the direction of Paul’s view of himself. It mirrors John’s statement
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”John 3:30
Having a sane, realistic view of himself enables Paul to then say, ‘Whatever I am now is because of God’s favour poured out on me. Because of that I work harder than any one else but it is not me doing the work it is Him doing the work in me. Wow, that is a principle to take to heart and practise.
Which direction are you moving in? Are you increasing or decreasing? Is He is increasing or decreasing?Ian Vail
Don’t let your worries get the best of you; remember Moses started out as a basket case.Anon
Be kind to yourself. God thinks you’re worth His kindness. And He’s a good judge of character.Max Lucado
Greatness Becomes Yours The Moment You Become Small In Your Own Eyes.Robb Thompson