Daily Devotional Bible Verse
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, (Romans 1:1 ESV)
(This devotion is part three in the series: “How to Be Changed Like Paul.” Check out part two if you missed it.)
The Greek word for “set apart” is aphorizo. And while set apart is an apt translation, it falls a little short at expressing the radical nature of Paul’s meaning here.
The word literally means “to mark off from others by boundaries, to limit, to separate” (source).
So Paul isn’t simply saying that he was ear marked for ministry—he was irrevocably transported to a new reality.
In his two-volume commentary on Romans, Donald Grey Barnhouse explains that the word “horizon” is derived from aphorizo. If taken literally, we could also translate it this way: Paul was “off-horizoned” for the gospel of God.
A bit odd, but here’s an illustration that may help.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the mountains. Camping, fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking… You name it! Some of my fondest memories come from the mountains.
One of my most vivid, though, is from when I was about twelve. It was my first backpacking trip with my dad, and we had hiked deep into the backcountry to fly fish.
Our destination was a glacial lake at the base of a 1,000+ foot cliff with monster trout and panoramic views.
After a long hike we made it! But there was a problem—a giant one actually.
A huge storm was screaming across the nearby peaks, rumbling straight for us. Within a few minutes, we were getting pelted by rain, sleet, and bitterly cold wind. To make matters worse, we were at such a high elevation there was hardly any shelter to speak of.
I’m happy to report we made it through the storm.
However, as we hid against a boulder and looked around us, all we could see was exposed rock, water, and a giant cliff. There was no help on the horizon.
As I write this devotion, I’m sitting comfortably in my family room. Obviously, my horizon is much different right now than it was then 🙂
The difference between these two “horizons” is exactly the picture and meaning of aphorizo, of Paul’s being “set apart.”
His new horizon as an apostle was vastly different than his old one as the disciple-persecuting Saul. And when your horizon is different, your entire future is changed.
Paul was expressing the irrevocable transformation the gospel worked in him. It wasn’t simply that some of his habits and ways of thinking changed at his conversion. It was that his entire horizon changed. God transported him from one place to another—from a dead life to a living one.
Paul didn’t simply change directions, he changed locations. And this is what it means to encounter the gospel of Jesus Christ and be made new.
What is the new horizon God has given you?