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Why Was Paul Chosen?
by Dr. Johnny O. Trail, LMFT
Some have wondered why the Apostle Paul was chosen to serve Christ among the many that might have been chosen. Any answer that is offered might be speculative in nature, but we know that Paul was selected by Christ to serve and minister primarily among the Gentile nation. Acts 9:15 reveals, “But the Lord said to him [Ananias--JOT], "Go, for he [Saul or Paul—JOT] is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” For a moment, one might consider some of the reasons why Paul was selected.

Paul might have been chosen due to the powerful testimony that he could have offered regarding the Messiahship of Christ from one who was a former persecutor. Consider his reputation as offered by Ananias in Acts 9:13- 14. “Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name." For one so adamantly against Christ and the church to change his mind and behavior, it must have impressed upon many the nature of Paul’s new conviction. This fact made a majority doubt the sincerity of his conversion (Acts 9.26).

Paul might have been chosen because he was devoted to a task that he believed was right and authorized by God—even when he was wrong in his conclusions. It seems that Paul was an effective persecutor of the church, because scripture indicates that the church grew in number after his conversion to Christ. Imagine what devotion it took for Paul to be held accountable for hindering the growth of the church through his persecutory efforts. Acts 9:31 says, “Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.” Contextually, the “then” in these passages sets up a conditionality that indicates Paul was very effective in thwarting the growth of the church. He was passionate about what he believed to be right but was converted to Christ when he realized the error of his ways (Acts 22.6ff)

Paul might have been chosen because God knew how much he would care about the souls of lost humankind. While Paul expressed concern over lost Jews, his concern stretched to all of humanity. The passages express how much he wanted people to be saved—even to the detriment of his soul. Romans 9:1-3 says, “I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh.” Another similar passage says, in Romans 10:1, “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.” If we truly want to be evangelistically minded, we need to love the souls of our fellow man (Mark 10.21).

Paul might have been chosen to serve as an Apostle because he was willing to be persecuted and die for what he believed regarding Christ. Act 21:12-13 says, “Now when we heard these things, both we and those from that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, "What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” Not many people have the level of dedication that Paul had. He understood what following Christ truly meant (Luke 9.23).

Paul might have been chosen to work as an Apostle because he demanded and taught the truth even at the loss of human relationships. Galatians 4:15-16 says, “What then was the blessing you enjoyed? For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me. Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” Evidently, the brethren at Galatia loved Paul to the extent that they would have “plucked out” their eyes and given them to Paul if he had desired. It is incredible to consider how much that relationship had changed from complete love and brotherhood to Paul becoming an “enemy” of those teaching and accepting false doctrine. Paul loved the people he engaged in personal evangelism, but he was not willing to compromise the truth for any person. We should have that same resolve in our Christian walk (Mark 10.34-38).

We will never know this side of Heaven the reasons behind selecting Paul to serve as an Apostle to the Gentile nation, but the wisdom of God is undeniable in the effectiveness we see in Paul’s life at promoting the gospel. He saw himself as a debtor because of the grace that was extended to him—even when it was not deserved. Romans 1:14-16 says, “I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”