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Paul as Ambassador and Apostle

T o describe his mission of preaching the Gospel and guiding the communities
towards maturation in Christ, Paul uses a broad array of rich metaphors. Here are the
most important of these:

First, Paul uses metaphors of representation, like the word ambassador which, though
rarely used by Paul, expresses something very important about his self-
understanding. As ambassador, Paul sees himself as an agent or representative of
God with a very important message: reconciliation of God through Christ offered to all
nations (2 Cor 5:18-20). But Paul (along with other missionaries) is not only a
messenger: his mission is an actual participation in God’s reconciling activity.

What is true of “ambassador” is also true of Paul as apostle, a more frequent self-
designation. An apostle brings to mind an envoy, a representative of a higher authority and who is to be received
accordingly (Jn 13:20). In the New Testament, Christ himself is described as the envoy (“sent one”) by God; the
Twelve are sent by Jesus; Paul is an envoy of God or Christ; people like Timothy and Titus serve as envoys of
Paul; and individual church communities send emissaries. In Paul’s case, his sense of vocation comes from the
conviction that he had been called by God and sent to the Gentiles (Rom 1:4-5).