John_ChrysostomJanuary 25th is the feast of the Conversion of St Paul.

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, separated unto the Gospel of God” (Romans 1:1).

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ.”

Why did God change his name, and call him Paul who was Saul?

It was, that he might not even in this respect come short of the Apostles, but that that preëminence which the chief of the Disciples had, he might also acquire (Mark 3:16); and have whereon to ground a closer union with them.

[…] “Called an Apostle.”

He styles himself “called” in all his Epistles, so showing his own candor, and that it was not of his own seeking that he found, but that when called he came near and obeyed.

And the faithful, he styles, “called to be saints,” but while they had been called so far as to be believers, he had besides a different thing committed to his hands, namely, the Apostleship, a thing full of countless blessings, and at once greater than and comprehensive of, all the gifts.

[…] What more need one say of Apostleship, than that whatsoever Christ was doing when present, this he committed to their hands when He departed.

Which also Paul cries aloud, speaking thereof and magnifying the dignity of the Apostles’ office; “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech by us;” i.e. in Christ’s stead.

[…] “To the Gospel of God.”

Not Matthew then alone is an Evangelist, nor Mark, as neither was this man alone an Apostle, but they also; even if he be said prëeminently to be this, and they that.

And he calls it the Gospel, not for those good things only which have been brought to pass, but also for those which are to come.

And how comes he to say, that the Gospel “of God” is preached by himself? for he says, “separated to the Gospel of God”—for the Father was manifest, even before the Gospels.

Yet even if He were manifest, it was to the Jews only, and not even to all of these as were fitting. For neither did they know Him to be a Father, and many things did they conceive unworthily of Him.

Wherefore also Christ says, “The true worshippers” shall come, and that “the Father seeketh such to worship Him” (John 4:23).

But it was afterwards that He Himself with the Son was unveiled to the whole world, which Christ also spoke of beforehand, and said, “that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou has sent” (John 17:3).

But he calls it the “Gospel” of God, to cheer the hearer at the outset.

For he came not with tidings to make the countenance sad, as did the prophets with their accusations, and charges, and reproofs, but with glad tidings, even the “Gospel of God;” countless treasures of abiding and unchangeable blessings.

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homily 1 on St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.

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