Have you ever used Romans 15:16 to point out to someone that the Apostle Paul was “the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles,” only to have them argue that no, he was just a minister of the Gentiles, one of many who ministered to the nations? If you bump into someone who really knows his stuff, he may even point out that there are more verses that use the indefinite article to describe Paul as “a minister” (Acts 26:16; Eph. 3:7; Col. 1:23,25) than the lone Scripture that you can cite where he is called “the minister.”
If anyone has ever called you on this, as you’ve sought to press the apostleship of Paul, you don’t have far to go to turn the tables and give them pause and food for thought. You see, just a few verses earlier in Romans 15, Paul referred to the Lord Jesus Christ as just “a minister of the circumcision” (v. 8).
How can this be? How can the Son of God be anything other than the minister of the people He came to save (Matt. 1:21; 20:28)? I believe it is because, while the Lord Jesus was God in the flesh, He did not come into this world to sit in an ivory tower and dispatch other men to minister to the circumcision. He Himself was on the front line of the battle for the souls of men, standing shoulder to shoulder with other ministers of the circumcision, men like John the Baptist, the twelve, the seventy, and any and all others who ministered to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:6) in the face of opposition that came from men and devils alike.
In the same way, there is no question that the Apostle Paul was the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, the preeminent minister of the uncircumcision, as even an examination of the passages where he is called “a minister” will show (Acts 26:16-18; Eph. 3:1-7; Col. 1:24-29). But like his Lord, Paul was in the trenches, duking it out with the enemies of his gospel, standing shoulder to shoulder in the battle for truth with men like Timothy and Titus and Aristarchus and Epaphras and others.
So stick to your guns when it comes to standing for the distinctiveness of the apostleship and message of Paul. In the face of opposition from men and devils alike, continue to insist that whether he’s called by the definite or indefinite article, the Apostle Paul was the genuine article!
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.