Romans 1:1 — Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God.
I can’t think of anything to say about this better than what Donald Grey Barnhouse wrote in Man’s Ruin, his commentary on the first chapter of Romans. All of the following is his.
The Greek word that is translated “separated” is … aphorizo, and if you look at it closely you will see that it contains our word “horizon.” The prefix is such that the word could be transliterated and would make good sense. It would be off-horizoned.
I had an experience that … will illustrate perfectly the sense of the word. On one of my earlier crossings of the Atlantic Ocean I was on the British liner, Majestic. I got to know one of the junior officers and through him was able to visit most of the ship. I asked him if it would be possible for me to go to the very peak of the crow’s nest, where a look-out can have the widest view. It was arranged that I should go up with him one morning, just at dawn. I climbed the narrow laddder, never looking down until I had reached the topmost height. Then I gasped — the ship seemed so small beneath me and the ocean so vast. In every direction I could see the horizon, a complete circle of sea and sky. No land or ship was in sight — nothing but the wide circle of ocean and heaven.
A strange thought came to my mind that made me laugh out loud. I remembered a time when I was a small boy and my mother was making cookies. The dough was spread out on the marble, and she allowed me to take the cooky cutter and cut out all the cookies. The object was, of course, to cut the circles very close together so that there was very little dough left between the circles. I remember taking the cut cookies from the marble and leaving these white circles and noting how each cooky left an entirely different circle.
Suddenly, on the crow’s next of that ship, seeing the round ocean about me, I began to think of that incident and of those circles. I realized that beyond the blue horizon there were other circles of ocean with other ships, and that all over the world there were different circles, and different horizons.
Thus it was with Paul. He had been brought up in one circle, and his thinking had been circumscribed by that circle. All of his life had been lived within a horizon that comprehended the total vision which he was able to have from that point. Now God had saved him. He had been lifted out of the circle where he had lived and put into an entirely different circle. It had a different center and therefore a different horizon. And the new center was so far removed from that in which he had lived before that there were no segments overlapping. He was off-horizoned. He was separated unto the gospel of God.