Wednesday, September 26, 2012


When we think of all the blessings that have come from Paul’s letters, we forget he was only one man. We tend to think God needs an army to conquer such a large thing as the world, and to overcome such a prevalent thing as the stupidity of the world. He does not. It pleases Him to do the most with the least. This way, the credit and glory go to Him, rather than to the vessels He chooses for such stupendous work. It is simply impossible for one man (Paul) to take over the world. And yet, he does.

Along with eight others. Nine people, in all, brought us our faith. Yes, Christ brought it, absolutely speaking, and God brought it even more absolutely speaking than that, but the Powers That Be handed this faith to a single man headed down that dirt road to Damascus. This man, in turn, handed it to eight others, who found in their soul a burning desire to receive it, understand it, and pass it on.

Paul and Barnabas were the first believers of the new message (of the grace of God) to be called, “apostles” (Acts 14:4). In Romans 16:7, Paul refers to two believers named Andronicus and Junia, as being, “of note among the apostles.” In 1 Thessalonians 1:1, Paul associates Silvanus and Timothy with himself, saying in 2:1-1 that these men were “bold in our God to speak the evangel of God to you with much struggle.”

Paul mentions another man, Epaphroditus, in Philippians 2:25, calling him “my brother, and fellow worker, and fellow soldier.” Sosthenes (1 Corinthians 1:1) and Apollos (1 Corinthians 4:6) were with Paul when he wrote to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 4:9—“I suppose that God demonstrates with us, the last apostles, as death-doomed, for we became a theater to the world and to messengers and to humans.”


Oh, what we owe this handful of faithful men who struggled in relative anonymity in a hot, cruel world, two millennia before any of us were born. They did it for God, but they did it, as well, for us. They gave themselves for the sake of people they’d never met, and for names they’d never heard. The men listed above deserve to be in the Faith Hall of Fame, and indeed, they are. Each of these will receive a wreath of glory from their Savior at the dais, rewarded for faithful service, compensated for the evils and frustrations endured here. We shall be present to see it.

I have written the names of these men on a small piece of paper that stays in my wallet. I feel close to them. I desire not only to see these men rewarded, but to stand with them. 

In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul writes to his child in faith: “And what things you hear from me through many witnesses, these commit to faithful men, who shall be competent to teach others also.” By the time Paul wrote this letter, he suspected the era would be much longer than he’d originally anticipated. Thus, he commissions Timothy to commission other men after him—men who would be competent to commission yet others.  

It has come down to the present day. In my humble opinion, there are never more than nine people during any generation who struggle in relative anonymity to dispense the pure Pauline gospel of grace upon this same cruel proving ground on which the nine pioneers laid their sweat. The contemporary teachers, like their forerunners, herald the Word opportunely and inopportunely. Like these others, they hope, someday, to be compensated for their many and epic failures. 

In two days, I fly to Rochester, NY. I am meeting there with Clyde Pilkington and Dan Sheridan to herald the same word Paul taught, to a group of 50 believers to be gathered in a small building next to a lake. Four days ago, Clyde sent the following text message to Dan and me:

“Brethren, we are called of God, it’s our turn. We are the heralds of our day. We follow Paul in filling up what is behind in Christ’s suffering. We heed his parting challenge to endure hardness, to suffer evil with him, so that we can finish our course. We will fight a good fight together as a celestial band of brothers.”

Tears welled in my eyes as I read Clyde’s text. It is an honor to serve with these men. In fact, it feels impossible to serve without them. Paul and his band of brothers were “the last apostles.” I pray we are the last teachers. I pray that the baton Paul passed to Timothy, ends with us. I pray this, not because I would rob others of the message, but because I wish to see, with my own eyes, the fullness of the era of the Gentiles. I will be so bold as to say: I long to be present when the last member of the body of Christ says, “Yes.” Then, the entire body of Christ—including the nine pioneers—will meet its Head in the air, and they shall ever be with Him.  

I intend to write you from New York with an account of the gathering, and photographs. Stay tuned to this channel. Pray to God that the last member of the body of Christ comes to Him in the small building, next to the beautiful lake. I will attempt to photograph it.

© 2012 by Martin Zender