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2 Timothy 1:1-2

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus … (verse 1)


Once again Paul starts another letter. Once again, he gives his credentials. Once again, they are rooted not in him, but in the Lord.

“Apostle of Christ Jesus” gives us, in a phrase, Paul’s primary calling in life. It takes us back to the scene on the Damascus Road when he was arrested by the Resurrected One – undeniably stopped in his tracks – and confronted with the life-changing reality that Jesus is Lord. Paul’s world was turned upside down and he never recovered. He received a calling that directed his steps ever after. The Lord Jesus, speaking through his servant Ananias, made his directive clear: “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15).

From that point on, Paul gladly and obediently took the title “apostle of Christ Jesus.” The word “apostle” literally means “one who is sent” – he was sent as Christ’s own messenger and ambassador to both Jew and Gentile, boldly (and eagerly) proclaiming the message of the Gospel. He became part of that unique, foundational band of Christ-followers who were capital-A “Apostles,” specifically sent by the Lord to be witnesses of his resurrection, delivering the “apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42) upon which faith in Christ has been built ever since.

“Apostle of Christ Jesus” is a high calling.

“By the will of God” confirms the fact that Paul didn’t choose this role for himself. How could he? He was travelling in exactly the opposite direction! No, it was the will of God himself, irresistibly enacted, that brought him to this place. Paul knew this reality so unmistakably that he regularly begins his letters with this phrase (see 1 & 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians). Indeed the concept captured his mind and heart so firmly that it comes up often in the great hymn of praise that he includes at the beginning of Ephesians: “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).

How amazing to be specifically included in the plan of the Sovereign Lord from all eternity – “by the will of God.”

“According to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.” Paul’s present reality was absolutely anchored in the certainty of this coming promise. It looks to the future, but it is also experienced here and now. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25). And then, the night before the cross, he declared to the Father, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Paul stood firmly in these realities.

“Life … in Christ Jesus.”

I rejoice in the calling that was on Paul’s life. I have been eternally blessed by his story and his teachings – I have experienced Jesus through him.

But I also identify with the phrases he has used to describe himself. I am not a capital-A “Apostle,” but I have certainly been entrusted with his message as an ambassador of Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:20). I, too, have been chosen “in him before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). I have been given life – for now and all eternity – in Jesus my Lord.

So have you, if you are in Christ. What a wonder. Praise his name.


Lord Jesus, praise you that your calling has been extended even to me. I have life in your name.

Praise you, Father, that I have been embraced by your will – you have chosen me, blessing me with your grace.

Let me stand firmly in the certainty of these truths, that I might live for your glory.


Reflect: What part of Paul’s description strikes home for you? Give thanks. Bring it to mind all day.

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