Paul according to His Opening Salutations

Identity, Calling, and Purpose

Paul is a man with a unique identity, calling, and purpose. In all of his letters, with exception of two, Paul identifies himself as one under the rule, reign, and commission of Jesus Christ and/or God the Father. The only two times that he is not explicitly tied to Christ or God the Father is in both his letters to the Thessalonians wherein gives only his name (1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1). In his letters that connect him with God and/or Christ, he primarily uses two titles and one anomaly: apostle (9x), servant (3x), and prisoner (1x) (in Romans and Titus, Paul is called both servant and apostle). In all these uses, his title is connected with Christ (i.e., “x” of Christ”) except for Galatians 1:1 though it is clear he is an apostle of Christ, since Christ sends Paul (Gal 1:1). The source and basis of his identity is not himself nor any other man, but from God, which the texts indicate by saying he was sent through God and Christ (Gal 1:1), set apart for God’s gospel (Rom 1:1), by the will of God (1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Eph 1:1; Col 1:1; 2 Tim 1:1), and by the divine command (1 Tim 1:1; Titus 1:3). His purpose is indicated in four texts: called to be an apostle (Rom 1:1; 1 Cor 1:1), to be set apart for the gospel (Rom 1:1), for the sake of the promise of life in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 1:1), for the sake of the faith of the elect and knowledge of truth that is in accordance to godliness (Titus 1:1), and to be entrusted with God’s revealed word (Titus 1:3). From this, we may know that Paul is a man of God, from God, for God, and for God’s people.

Below are some notes and underlined, opening salutations of Paul.

Notes:

First: Title identity

- A servant of Jesus Christ (Rom 1:1; Phil 1:1)

- An Apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 2:1; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:1; Col 1:1; 1 Tim 1:1)

- Rom 1:1 “called to be an apostle”

- Servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ (Titus 1:1)

- Paul (1 Thess 1:1; 2 Thess 1:1)

- Prisoner of Christ (Phlm 1)

Second: according to what?

- Implied God (Rom 1:1)

- By the will of God (1 Cor 1:1; 2 Cor 1:1; Eph 1:1; Col 1:1; 2 Tim 1:1)

- By the command of God our savior and of Jesus Christ our hope (1 Tim 1:1)

- by the command of God our savior (Titus 1:3)

- Sent through Jesus Christ and God the Father (Gal 1:1)

For what?

- Called to be an apostle (Rom 1:1; 1 Cor 1:1–3)

- For the gospel of God (Rom 1:1)

- For the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim 1:1)

- For the sake of the faith of Gods elect and knowledge of the truth (Titus 1:1)

- Entrusted with God’s revealed word (Titus 1:3)

Texts (ESV):

Romans 1:1–7

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the 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 all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:1–3

Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 1:1–2

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 1:1–5

Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 1:1–2

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:1–2

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:1–2

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

1 Thess 1:1

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

2 Thess 1:1–2

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 1:1–2

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Timothy 1:1–2

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Titus 1:1–4

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

Philemon 1–3

Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


– David A. Larson