Faith of a mustard seed

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

“for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you to serve and bear witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from the people and from the Gentiles— to whom I send you to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” (Acts 26:16-18). Faith in Acts.

There is significant reason to continue on in this final occurrence of ‘pistis/faith’ in Acts of The Apostles. Paul is in, I suspect, the most critical circumstance of his life. What began as protective custody from a Jewish mob, (notwithstanding the historical criticism of Luke’s accounting), has turned into more than two years of imprisonment with no release in sight. It is no small thing that his defense to King Aggripa would state his calling in it’s most personal and urgent form. (Luke) Paul continues this ‘conversion revelation message’ delivered to him by Christ saying, “I have appeared to you for this purpose…”

This word form and usage for ‘appeared’ is so rare that it only occurs twice in the entire New Testament. Rooted in the words for ‘see’, it is one of so many different words used in NT for the power of sight. To transliterate the Greek word to it’s English letters would be futile. It is the first word that we have encountered in this study that absolutely must be seen in it’s Greek lettering. And, it recurs in this text in another rare form as Paul says that Christ said to him in the past perfect “I have appeared to you”, but, of the purpose, future— “I will appear to you”.

‘Appear’ here, then, is not just ‘to see’ but ‘to hear’; where when taken together has the sense of total spiritual perception. It encompasses the ‘eye witness’. It is personal experience. Because of the certainty of the experience, the heart is involved; at which point faith results— there is convincing and conviction and conversion within this appearance. This ‘appearance’ is not an ‘epiphany’; it is not a ‘cacophony’; neither is it an ‘angelophony’. It is ‘theophony’, ‘christophony’. And, when Christ appears to you— you will never be the same again!

I keep hearing those ‘ole church’ songs— “You don’t know what the Lord told me. You don’t know what the Lord told me. You don’t know, you wasn’t there. You can’t say when, you can’t say where. You don’t know what the Lord told me.”

Paul’s conversion becomes the foundation for all that he is and all that he hopes to be. He has reached the third telling of his conversion in Acts as a ‘past’ as well as ‘promised future appearance’ to him by Christ. His name, his identity— yea, his entire being was changed by this appearance. Many things have been credited and ‘dis’credited to Paul, but in my thinking it is this ‘appearance’ that makes him the definer of the works, the ways, the gifts and the fruits of the Holy (Christ) Spirit. A contribution to Christendom that, I believe, could never have been made by the Twelve.

by email: