Faith of A Mustard Seed

Barbara Woods Washington

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

“… called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among the nations, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;” (Romans 1:1-6). Again, the first occurrence of ‘pistis/faith’ in Paul’s Letter, To The Romans.

A most overlooked (perhaps THE most overlooked) fact of the Gospels— Paul is not there. In reading and re-reading, studying for lifetimes, the four books of scripture given the name Gospel, which chronicles the life, and earthly ministry of Jesus, Paul’s name is never found. He is, simply, not there. We meet Paul after The Crucifixion, after The Resurrection, when The Twelve, ‘Called to be Disciples’ are now given ‘The Great Commission’ to: “Go ye therefore, into all the world and Preach the Gospel. Baptizing them… Teaching them…“

When I consider the fact that Paul had not discipled with Jesus, I suspect him to be The ‘OA’— Original Apostle. Sure we can argue semantics, but, Paul’s clarity of identity is stated here in his self-introduction to the Romans to whom he says “I am called to be an Apostle”!

‘Apostolos’ in it’s oldest usage is bound up with sea-faring and is used most often of a military expedition. It’s meaning and understanding remained for the Greek a technical political term referencing the dispatching of a fleet or an army or a navy for a commissioned purpose. Mostly foreign as a concept of Judaism, the reasoning clear— Israel in it’s Biblical history is not a sea-faring people.

Most closest to the office and function of the ‘apostolos’ is found in the ‘Investigator’, the ‘kataskopos’ of Cynic Stoicism. He has a strong consciousness of mission and a related self-consciousness. Strong also is his relationship to the one who commissioned him; as likewise the strength of the relationship to those to whom he has been sent.

At what time and point the ‘Apostle’ becomes an office of the ‘Christ Faith’ remains conjectural. That an entire Book of New Testament scripture, (the largest in length to be exact), would take the name of the office that is religiously peculiar to the ‘New Faith’, compounds the perplexities of the quest. To be sure, the ‘Apostolic Succession’ discussion, in my thinking, is one that only the Pope (and those who aspire to his office) should care for.

I suspect that Paul— ‘The OA’, could very well have been the author of the use of ‘apostle’ as it is taken over from the ancient sea-faring world into the New Testament faith. He has a strong consciousness of mission and a related self-consciousness. Strong also is his relationship to ‘The One’ who commissioned him; as likewise the strength of the relationship to those to whom he has been sent.

In Paul, it is not the ‘laying on of hands’ to pass the authority of God’s commission from man to man, but— ‘A CALLING’… to be an Apostle.

by email: mustardseedfaith@outlook.com