“And last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me”
1 Corinthians 15:8–10
After giving the evidence of Jesus’ various resurrection appearances, Paul makes a significant addition to the list of eyewitnesses: “And last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also” (1 Corinthians 15:8).
By “one untimely born,” Paul means that he was born too late to be an apostle. But Jesus appeared in His resurrected form to Paul—not immediately after the resurrection but weeks later when Paul was on the road to Damascus. Jesus had already ascended into heaven, but He appeared to Paul, spoke to Paul, and called him as an apostle.
You would think Paul would be boastful about His call to be an apostle because the resurrected Lord spoke to Him directly. But Paul was humble about it. Look at verses 9–10: “For I am the least of all the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God, I am what I am and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” Paul never got over the fact that God had forgiven him. Paul had formerly been a blasphemer, a persecutor, a killer of Christians. I’m sure the things he had done in the past haunted him. Yet Paul said, God forgave me. In fact, in 1 Timothy 1:15–16, Paul said, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” Paul was saying, I am Exhibit A of God’s ability to forgive.
Some people say to me: “Pastor, God could never forgive me. You don’t know what I’ve done. You don’t know the sin I’ve been involved in. God couldn’t forgive me; I’m too great a sinner.” I always respond, “You’re not as good of a sinner as you think you are. I can tell you somebody who’s much better at sinning than you could ever think of being—the apostle Paul. He was the chief of sinners. Yet God saved him by His grace as an example of His willingness to forgive anyone.”
There are some of you reading these words that think you’re beyond the reach of God’s forgiveness. You’re not. If God can forgive the apostle Paul, then He can forgive anyone.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “If Christ Has Not Been Raised,” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2012.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.