So far we’ve seen that Paul was a “bondservant” of Jesus Christ and “called to be an apostle.” In this study we’ll see that Paul was “separated to the gospel of God” and what that means. Was that just for Paul and other apostles? or is it something God wants to do with us?
aphorismenos eis euaggelion theou — “having been separated to the gospel of God”
The word “separated” is the perfect passive participle of aphorizo. The word combines apo (from) and horizo (to determine) and means “to mark off by bounds, to separate.” aphorismenos is in the perfect tense, which means the action is completed and the results are continuing or in full effect. Another way of saying it is that the perfect tense is past action with present results that continue. aphorismenos is in the passive voice, which means something or someone separated Paul. It was not his choice (self-action). From what we’ve already learned about Paul, we know that Jesus Christ is the One Who “separated” him to the Gospel of God.
We often think of separation as being “from” something, but the words aphorismenos eis mean that Jesus separated Paul “to” something. That something is “the gospel of God.” The Greek word euaggelion originally meant “a reward for good tidings,” but later came to mean the “good tidings” itself. The old Anglo-Saxon equivalent, “godespell” or “godspell,” was a combination of two words: “god” (God) and “spell” (tidings or story). The “godspell” was God’s story, His message.
Paul used the word euaggelion more than 70 times in his letters–far more than any other writer in the New Testament. That’s interesting in light of what we learned about how Paul preached the “gospel for the uncircumcised” and Peter preached the “gospel for the circumcised.” Paul deeply emphasized the importance of the Gospel message that Christ gave him to preach.
“And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:22-24
Can you see how “separated,” how “marked out” Paul was to the Gospel of the Grace of God? Nothing moved him. He did not count his own life dear to himself. He was determined to finish his race with joy, and the ministry the Lord Jesus had given him–“to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Paul even referred to it as “my gospel” (Romans 2:16; 16:25; 2 Timothy 2:8). The Gospel was extremely personal to Paul. He took ownership of the message and treated it as the most important part of his life.
When Paul wrote the Romans that he was “separated to the gospel of God,” he meant it. Paul was not lying, he was not exaggerating, he was not tricking anybody, he meant what he said–he had been “separated” to the Gospel of God. It’s what Paul lived for–what made him say what he said, do what he did, endure what he endured. Paul is someone to imitate (1 Corinthians 11:1) because he lived a life of pure separation to the will of God.
The Gospel is known as many things in Scripture. It’s called “the gospel of the kingdom” (Matthew 4:23), “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1), “the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:14), “the word of the gospel” (Acts 15:7), “the gospel of His Son” (Romans 1:9), “the gospel of Christ” (Romans 1:16), “gospel of peace” (Romans 10:15; Ephesians 6:15), “Christ’s gospel” (2 Corinthians 2:12), “the gospel of your salvation” (Ephesians 1:13), “the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8), and “the glorious gospel of the blessed God” (1 Timothy 1:11).
Paul used the word “gospel” 13 times in his Epistle to the Romans. That’s more than all of the uses of the word “gospel” in all of the other apostles’ letters–combined. He begins by calling it “the gospel of God.” That’s where the “glad tidings” begin–with God. The Gospel is “good news” because it’s what God is telling the world. It began with Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”) and ends with Revelation 22:21 (“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”). God is doing great and mighty things from beginning to end–though there is no end to what God will do for those who belong to Him.
Paul used the phrase “gospel of God” five times; Peter used it once. It is the “parent” of all Gospel identities.
“Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God …” Romans 1:1
“… that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:16
“Did I commit sin in humbling myself that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge?” 2 Corinthians 11:7
“But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict.” 1 Thessalonians 2:2
“So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8-9
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” 1 Peter 4:17
How precious is the Gospel of God. How wonderful it is that Jesus Christ separated Paul to preach, teach and write about the wonderful “good news” of God’s mercy and forgiveness. How marvelous that Paul stood strong and was not moved from his “separation” to the Gospel.
Now to our earlier question: “Was that just for Paul and other apostles? or is it something God wants to do with us?” What do you think? You’ve studied the Bible, you’ve seen what Jesus taught His followers. You’ve read what Peter, John and other apostles told the Jewish believers in Jerusalem and Judea. You’ve read what Paul told Gentile believers across the Greek and Roman world. What do you think? Is the work of sharing the Gospel just for “professional” ministers?
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians and mentioned that Euodia, Syntyche, Clement, and “the rest of my fellow workers” had “labored” with him “in the gospel.” In his letter to the Romans, Paul commended many of the people who had helped him in the ministry of the Gospel. They included Phoebe, Priscilla, Aquila, Epaenetus, Mary, Andronicus, Junia, Amplias, Urbanus, Stachys, Apelles, members of the household of Aristobulus, Herodion, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus, Asvncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Hermes and “the brethren who are with them,” Philologus, Julia, Nereus, Olympas, “and all the saints who are with them.” (Romans 16) Paul told the Colossians about the service rendered by Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Justus, Epaphras, Luke, Demas, and Nymphas. (Colossians 4)
What I see in these and other epistles is a clear picture of everyone in the Church participating in the ministry of the Gospel of the Grace of God. We learn from Paul’s letter to the Romans that all members of the Body of Christ have spiritual gifts (charismata) for the benefit of the Church. Paul told the Corinthians that in the realm of spiritual matters (pneumatikon) there are diversities of “gifts” (charismaton), “ministries” (diakonion), and “activities” (energematon). (Romans 12:1-6) With these widely diverse gifts, ministries and activities, the Holy Spirit does His unique Work of making known the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Body of Christ.
“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.” 1 Corinthians 12:13-14
For what purpose?
“But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” 1 Corinthians 12:24-26
Christians often think of the “Gospel” as preaching salvation to the lost, but the Gospel is actually “everything” about God’s Message to the world. It includes Christ’s Death and Resurrection, His Ascension to Heavenly Power and Glory, the Ministry of the Holy Spirit to the world, the preaching of salvation to the unsaved, the love and care Christians show each other as members of the same Body, and the eternal future we all have with our Lord and each other. The Gospel Message is the total Work of God in Heaven and on earth.
What part do you play in the Gospel of God? Play it well.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”