How did Paul see himself? Paul saw himself as a slave of Jesus. This is not a fluke. Paul also makes it clear in Philippians 1:1, both he and Timothy “as slaves of the Messiah Jesus”. In Titus 1:1, “a slave of God.”
Paul, a slave of the Messiah Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the good news of God. [Romans 1:1]
And not just Paul. James, the half-brother of our Lord; says “James, a slave of God and of the Master Jesus the Messiah.” (James 1:1) Peter, not to be outdone (2 Peter 1:1), “Peter the slave.” Jude “Jude, a slave of Jesus the Messiah, and brother of James” John in Revelation 1:1, “John the slave.”
How should I see myself? I should see myself as a slave of Jesus. And so … I am a slave of Jesus. Jesus is my owner and Master. My job is to obey. I am happy about that. It gives me joy.
Paul is a slave in God’s Kingdom. No slave in the Roman Empire could be a citizen. Couldn’t own anything. Didn’t have any rights. Couldn’t give testimony to a court of law. Couldn’t be defended in court. Paul knew this and yet he sees himself as a slave.
So what is Paul’s message to the gentiles and Romans? A crucified Jew executed in an obscure place in Palestine is God in human flesh is to be worshiped? If you’re near the Circus Maximus in Rome, you can look behind some bars that have been there for a long, long time and you will see what is remaining of an etching in a wall that pictures a cross and hanging on the cross is the body of a man and the head of a jackass. And a man below is bowing down in worship and the inscription says, “Elix asinus worships his God.” What a joke. A crucified man is God, and mock it by giving Him the head of a jackass. That’s what the Gentiles thought. Sell that good news. Sell that good news when you get to Rome.
Oh, and by the way, not only do we ask you to acknowledge that this crucified Jew rejected by His own people and executed as a criminal by the Romans in an obscure place in the Middle East, but we are expecting you not only to acknowledge Him as God, but to become His … What? … slave?
If you think slavery had a stigma in the sixteenth century, how about the first? You think they had a little uphill climb in evangelism? You say, “Well, you know, we’ve got to adapt the good news or people will never believe it.” But that’s exactly what they preached. Jesus is Master, not Caesar; Jesus is my Owner. You must become His slave.
And so … I am a slave of Jesus. Jesus is my owner and Master. My job is to obey. I am happy about that. It gives me joy.