“Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord?”
1 Cor 9:1 GNB
The question about qualifications is a burning issue in South Africa at the moment since several prominent people are claiming to have academic qualifications they don’t have at all. And sometimes we read a book or a newspaper article that has such insight that we wonder what the writer’s background and qualifications are.
Paul had a hard time with the Christians at Corinth. In addition to all the questions about conduct there were those who were querying whether he was a genuine apostle of the church at all. He had not been one of the twelve disciples called in Galilee by Jesus. He met the risen Christ when he was en route to Damascus with letters from the Jewish authorities to search out the Christians in Damascus. That was good enough for Paul. Meeting the risen Christ was regarded as the supreme test of an apostle. To have faith and to know the risen Christ was more than knowing a creed, more than working out a theology. Knowing Christ was the bedrock beginning to becoming an apostle. An apostle was one who was sent – but his deep personal acquaintance with Christ was the heart of his faith, his message and his calling.
It still is. “All Christianity begins with this personal relationship with Jesus Christ. To be a Christian is to know Jesus Christ personally. As Carlyle once said when a minister was being chosen, ‘What this church needs is someone who knows Christ other than at second-hand’” (W. Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians, p87). Knowing Christ will influence the message an apostle or minister will proclaim. It will determine how he or she interprets the Bible.
Lord, help me to know you more and more.