The Greetings of Paul

Romans – “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
1 Corinthians – “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
2 Corinthians – “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
Galatians – “Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians – “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
Philippians – “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
Colossians – “Grace and peace to you from God our Father!
1 Thessalonians – “Grace and peace to you!”
2 Thessalonians – “Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”
1 Timothy – “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord!”
2 Timothy – “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord!”
Titus – “Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior!”
Philemon – “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!”

Recipients of the Apostle Paul’s Letters

A glance at the recipients of the Apostle Paul’s letters:

Romans – “to all those loved by God in Rome, called to be saints.”
1 Corinthians – “to the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their lord and ours.”
2 Corinthians – “to the church of God that is in Corinth, with all the saints who are in Achaia.”
Galatians – “to the churches of Galatia.”
Ephesians – “to the saints in [Ephesus], the faithful in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians – “to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with all the overseers and deacons.”
Colossians – “to the saints, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ at Colossae.”
1 Thessalonians – “to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Thessalonians – “to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Timothy – “to Timothy, by genuine son in the faith.”
2 Timothy – “to Timothy, my dear child.”
Titus – “to Titus, my genuine son in a common faith.”
Philemon – “to Philemon, our dear friend and colaborer, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church that meets in your house.”

The Apostle Paul’s Credentials

Here’s a quick listing of the way Paul identifies himself as he opens his letters.

Romans – “From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel …”
1 Corinthians – “From Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God …”
2 Corinthians – “From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God …”
Galatians – “From Paul, an apostle (not from men or human agency, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead) …”
Ephesians – “From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God …”
Philippians – “From Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus …”
Colossians – “From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God …”
1 Thessalonians – “From Paul and Silvanus and Timothy …”
2 Thessalonians – “From Paul and Silvanus and Timothy …”
1 Timothy – “From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope …”
2 Timothy – “From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God …”
Titus – “From Paul, a slave of God and apostle of Jesus Christ …”
Philemon – “From Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, …”

(All quotes are from the NET Bible – http://net.bible.org/bible.php)

Saul’s Traumatic Encounter with Christ

Imagine what it must have been like for Saul of Tarsus after his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. Here was a man who sincerely believed with all his heart that he was defending the truth of God. But he has just discovered that he had been violently fighting against his God. How traumatic that must have been. Acts 9:9 merely says that he couldn’t see and didn’t eat or drink for three days. He couldn’t see, because he had been blinded by the bright light. (The others were not.) But the fasting was his part. He must have been in deep mourning over his actions against the very God he thought he loved. Indeed, he may have been so distressed that he couldn’t eat. It has to be a terrifying thing to suddenly realize that everything you have placed your energies into has been 180 degrees off!

One or two thoughts:
First, we can be dead wrong on issues we think are critical. What would it take to make us do an about-face on the direction of our lives? Think of your most fundamental belief. What if you were to suddenly be shown beyond any doubt that it was wrong? How would you feel? That’s what Saul would have been experiencing during his three days of blindness in Damascus (and for some time after).

Secondly, this is exactly what we are expecting the atheist, the agnostic, the Muslim, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the materialist, and so many others to go through when we ask them to come to Christ. We tend to think it’s a simple, single step. Far from it! And one of the scariest prospects for them is to begin associating with us – a group they consider to be anti-everything they currently consider to be right.

We must not trivialize evangelism as simply sharing an outline and saying a prayer. It is the work of God in the hearts of men and women, girls and boys. He has chosen to use us in the process first and foremost by the testimony of our lives as a demonstration and proof of His love (John 13:34-35; 17:21,23). Then he is able to use our voices as we gently give an answer to the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Finally, are we really open to the leading of the Holy Spirit? We hold many beliefs about which there are disagreements even among our brothers and sisters in Christ. Opposite views cannot all be true. Am I so arrogant to think that all my views are the ones that are?

Lord, guide me into your truth in the things You want me to know. Help me to understand what’s really important to the extent to which you want me to understand. Grant me the willingness to hold loosely those things that are not so important and to allow others to do the same. Most of all, help me to be compassionate and understanding of those who oppose You, to pray for your work in their lives, and to be ready for your timing and direction to share your good news with them.