Before the Day of Pentecost, the disciples cast lots to replace Judas and selected Matthias. We never hear of Matthias again, which doesn’t mean he didn’t go forth and preach with the others, but he probably wasn’t the Lord’s choice for the replacement of Judas. Paul is sometimes referred to as the thirteenth apostle, but it could be that God had Paul in mind as the successor instead of Matthias.
The disciples read the prophecy regarding another taking the place of the betrayer and took it upon themselves to make it come to pass (Acts 1:21-22). This election was conducted before this group of men were endowed with power by the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit had other plans. He saved Paul on the road to Damascus and anointed him to preach to the Gentiles.
Paul makes it clear through several of his greetings that he was called by God to be an apostle from birth (Galatians 1:15-16).
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart to the gospel of God—the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures. (Romans 1:1-2 NIV)
The words this apostle chose to begin his salutations to the churches he founded were not idle phrases used to fill up the page. They had a deeper meaning, and the recipients of his letters would have understood what he said. But we can sometimes skim over these regards and not absorb the importance of these words.
Paul starts most of his correspondences with the blessings of grace, mercy, and peace to be upon the readers of his epistles. Grace, according to Strong’s #G5463 means favor, thanks, pleasure, rejoice, be glad, and thrive. Peace was used to bless them with security, safety, and prosperity (Strong’s #G1515). The meaning of mercy is discussed further with item number four.
The Word of God is living and never fades away (Hebrews 4:12). The anointing that was upon Paul’s pen is still as powerful today as when he scratched the message across parchment thousands of years ago. His greetings of grace, mercy, and peace also carried additional wise utterances for the hearers.
These 7 lessons from Paul’s hand still apply to us today.
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