To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ,Ephesians 3:8(NASB)
Paul was not one of the twelve men chosen by the Lord Jesus to be a disciple. He was not one of the multitude who was baptised by John unto repentance early in Christ's ministry. He was not a man like Matthias, who accompanied the apostles during the time that Jesus went in and out among them all.. and Paul was not one of the men of Israel who were cut to the heart on that first day of Pentecost.. when they realised that they had crucified their Messiah, and cried out in despair: brethren, what shall we do?'
Paul was an ultra-orthodox Jew who hated Christ and despised the Christian Church.. with a deep, seated loathing. He was one that violently persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. He dragged men, women and children from their homes, and flung them into jail - killing them by the sword and causing many to be scattered abroad throughout the entire region of Judaea and Samaria.
Following his conversion on the road to Damascus, the caustic animosity that he had towards the fledgling church caused Paul great pain, and made him acutely aware of God's amazing grace towards him personally.. and to the Jewish and Gentile nations. When he discovered that Jesus Christ was the King of Israel.. and that he had been complicit in crucifying his Messiah..Paul came to the shocking realisation, that in tyrannising the Body of Christ.. he was abusing the Lord Jesus Himself. By persecuting Christians he was persecuting Jesus.. for they were members of His mystical body.
In consideration of all the terror he struck into the hearts of Christians and the many men and women who were murdered at his bidding, Paul recognised the incredible grace of God and His incalculable mercy towards himself. He could only judge himself to be the very least of all the saints of God, for he considered his sins against God and the body of Christ, to be the most heinous of all crimes.
To me, who is the very least of all the saints, he cried.. this grace was given to me, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ. Despite his murderous past and hatred of Christ, Paul was chosen by God to be His apostle to the Gentiles. In His grace and kindness God even revealed mysteries to Paul.. which had been hidden in past ages.. and were not revealed to earlier generations.
Paul was given revelation about the dispensation of the grace of God, and to him was revealed the mystery of the Church.. and the one new man in Christ - which is made up of believing Jews and believing Gentiles.. where we are all one in Christ Jesus our Lord, and equal members of His mystical Body.
The apostle Paul gave us greater understanding of justification, sanctification, glorification and the wonders of the permanently indwelling Spirit of God.. and he gave us insight into positional and progressive sanctification and the difference between our permanent union with Christ and our fellowship with Him, which can be broken by sin and renewed when we confess our faults.
He opened our understanding of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in the finished work of Christ alone and helped us to understand more of Christ's propitiatory work on the cross on our behalf. And Paul also gave us greater understanding of slavery to sin and the freedom we have in Christ.
This murdering Jew became God's chosen apostle to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ and the many mysteries that had been hidden for ages and generation. Paul knew that His great salvation was a result of God's amazing grace and long-suffering mercy towards him - no surprise that Paul got to the point where he recognised that only by God's grace had his final destination been changed from eternity in hell to everlasting life with Christ in heaven.
It is not surprising that Paul could only refer to himself as the very least of all the saints.. and dedicate the rest of his life by proclaiming the grace of God which was given to him.. and to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable, unsearchable, incalculable, boundless riches of Christ.. to all who are saved by grace through faith in Him.
Heavenly Father, I am filled with awe when I start to realise the unfathomable, unsearchable, incalculable, boundless riches of Christ which I have received by grace through faith in Him. As I think back over my life I have nothing that could commend me to You and by right I should be condemned to eternal separation from You.. By right, I too am the worst of all sinners, and am not worthy to be called Your son.. and yet while I was still a sinner Christ died for me and You searched me out and saved me. Praise Your holy name and thank You in Christ's name. May I live and work to Your praise and glory through time and into eternity in Jesus name, AMEN.