I’ve just read through the Apostle Paul’s letters and noted all the words he uses to describe his ministry. It’s a fascinating and humbling list.
Paul calls himself: apostle, servant, minister, preacher, master builder, from the tribe of Benjamin, prisoner, teacher, Hebrew, aroma, Jew, Israelite, temple servant, from the circumcision, manager, nobody, debtor, father, ambassador, vessel, the least of all saints, seed of Abraham and assistant. He also likens himself to a messenger, farmer, miscarriage, shepherd and mother.
God, Christ and the Holy Spirit assign or enable Paul’s ministry by loving, revealing, sending, guaranteeing, setting apart, confirming, making known, displaying, giving, giving over, approving, strengthening, showing mercy, accomplishing, working in, considering, willing, leading in triumphal procession, opening doors, making sufficient, calling, comforting, leading, laying upon, speaking in, receiving, shining, assigning, appearing, standing by, entrusting, filling, rescuing, dwelling, compelling, commending, certifying, commanding, setting, publicizing, anointing, guarding and graciously giving to Paul.
Paul describes his ministry as taking captive, a necessity, a defence, apostleship, pleasing, betrothing, confirmation, begetting, making known, a new covenant, administration, ministry, teaching, imparting, handing over, service, an athletic course, authority, working, evangelism, seeking, death, laying a foundation, treasure, priestly duty, destruction, assignment, fruit, announcement, gaining, preaching, speaking, worshipping, temple service, testimony, admonition, building, management, presentation, convincing, fulfiling, enrichment, nourishment, ambassadorship, offering, sowing, a battle, fighting, saving, guarding, running, being a prime example, publishing, planting, illumination, grace, and a gift of God.
Paul likens his ministry to those who struggle, compete, thresh, plow, contend, focus on the altar, toil, box, run, plant and cherish.
Paul describes his message as truth, revelation, how to please God, knowledge, teaching, glory, commands, promise, gospel, reconciliation, healthy, testimony, secret, fragrance, instruction, tradition, how to walk, faith, wealth, enlightenment and God’s word.
As he performs his ministry, Paul acts with love, holiness, sincerity, truth, blamelessness, genuineness, uprightness, knowledge, righteousness, glory, power, purity, freedom, hope, desire, energy, hard work, determination, madness, authority, life, readiness, worthiness, tears, speech, patience, foolishness, yearning, weapons, devotion, confidence, boldness, gentleness, abundance, faith, spirit, purpose, respect, a rod, speech, his flesh, signs, wonders, wisdom, prudence, compassion, conscience, his body, discipline, fear, assurance, joy and kindness, sharing his life, not being burdensome, being renewed, overflowing, enslaving his body, imitating Christ.
Paul also struggles, despairs, weeps, spends, thirsts, works, forfeits, dies, toils, hungers, suffers, journeys, burns, groans, trembles, escapes, fears and fills up the lack in Christ’s affliction; he is bound, destroyed, perplexed, weak, homeless, ignorant, sleepless, exposed, persecuted, afflicted, slandered, unpaid, cast down, treated as the dregs, treated as scum, treated as deceitful, boxed, thwarted, hindered, abandoned, stoned, torn away, seized, beaten, poor, adrift at sea, offered as a libation, branded, turned away, distressed, humbled, flogged, abused; he endures riots, chains, pressure, prison, responsibility, danger, the lion’s mouth, discipline, trouble, dishonour, need, cold and birth pains.
In the course of his ministry, Paul commends, asks, hears, curses, endures, opposes, receives, eagerly expects, defends, doubts, sends, gives opportunities, speaks foolishly, baptizes, sees, wishes, knows, gives opinions, informs, bows his knee, writes, prays, shows, commands, punishes, pursues, is content, approves, enters, strains forward, hopes, gives thanks, lives, courts favour, seeks after, considers, marvels, reaps, visits, opens his heart wide, boasts, cuts down, judges, forgets, speaks, blesses, considers, grieves, learns, testifies, solemnly charges, calls witnesses, regrets, remembers, reminds, conforms, supposes, knows, puts under oath, gives instructions, comforts, appeals, encourages, convinces, has confidence, walks, abounds, believes, fulfils, longs, endeavours, opens his mouth, behaves, understands, commends himself, seals, completes, sets forth, gives an example, spares, fears, thinks and forgives.
Paul’s supporters give to him, pay him, supply his need, administer, are concerned for him, refresh him. They are his brothers and sisters, acceptable, pleasing, useful, an aroma, temple servants, fragrance, a sacrifice, Paul’s partners.
Those who rightly receive Paul’s message are beloved, holy, brothers and sisters, a vineyard, a field, written on his heart, glorious, Jews, Gentiles, from the uncircumcision, elect, Paul’s hope, a letter, workers, co-workers, zealous, in his heart, a blessing, witnesses, imitators, infants, mourners, a building, faithful, a flock, poor, earnest, Paul’s crown, Paul’s certificate, children and Paul’s joy. Paul boasts in them, longs for them and blesses them. They recognize him, receive him, follow his example, obey him, help him, live with him and die with him.
Paul’s rivals are false brothers, masquerading as apostles, false apostles, super apostles, masquerading as ministers of righteousness, ministers of Satan, would-be law teachers, false workers, evil workers, Jews, the mutilation, dogs, from the circumcision, enemies of the cross.
Paul describes the people who work with or for him as beloved, saints, strugglers, brothers and sisters, followers, the Man of God, apostles, kinsmen, genuine, administrators, ministers, servants, workers, pray-ers, comrades, partners, managers, comforters, the circimcision, faithful, fulfilling, labourers, soldiers, children, entrusted, examples, assistants, guards, gifts, kindred spirits, fellow workers, fellow competitors, fellow soldiers, fellow prisoners, fellow sufferers, fellow servants.