8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
one born out of due time (v.8) = abortion
Paul saw Christ, not on one or two occasions, but again and again. His testimony is by all odds the most conclusive. At his conversion the Lord said to him:
I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you (Acts 26:16).
And when Ananias was sent to restore his sight, he said:
The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth (Acts 22:14).
At his return to Jerusalem Paul saw the Lord again:
[I] saw Him saying to me, Make haste and get out of Jerusalem quickly, for they will not receive your testimony concerning Me (Acts 22:18).
Add to these such passages as Acts 18:9; 27:23; 1 Corinthians 11:23; 15:3; 2 Corinthians 12:1-2; Galatians 1:11-12 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17, and who can wonder that the apostles challenges the Corinthians:
Am I not an apostle? … Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord? (1 Corinthians 9:1). — Stam, page 253.
Paul thinks of himself here as one of the Israelites born into the family of God before the time for all Israel to be saved nationally: “For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:39). “Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children” (Isaiah 66:8).
The conversion of Paul, recorded in Acts 9:3-6, is an illustration of the rebirth of Israel as a nation. In Ezekiel 20:35-38, Hosea 2:14-17, Zechariah 12:10; 13:6, and Romans 11:25-27 we are clearly taught that Israel WILL be saved as a nation; however, that does not mean that each and every Israelite will be saved and will enter the joys of the kingdom.
There will be a remnant who will see Him, “and one shall say unto Him, what are these wounds in Thine hands?” He will reply, “Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends ” (Zechariah 13:6). When they see and recognize their Messiah, they will be converted just as Paul was converted when he saw the Lord on the road to Damascus. — Greene, pages 488-489.
Since Israel’s conversion is admittedly still future, Saul’s conversion is said to have been typical of hers and not of ours. This is also said with reference to 1 Timothy 1:16, where Paul is presented as “a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.” This, it is said, refers to Israel, not to us.
We do not deny — we heartily agree — that Saul’s conversion was typical of Israel’s, but perhaps those who contend that therefore he is not our pattern in salvation have overlooked the fact that as one born “out of,” or before the due time he has a closer relationship to us than he has to Israel. Let us ask a few questions to demonstrate this:
When, according to prophecy, is the due time for Israel to be saved: past, present, or future? The answer, of course, is future. And when is the due time for the Gentiles to be saved? Also future, for the Gentiles, according to prophecy, are to be saved through redeemed Israel (Genesis 22:17-18; Zechariah 8:13, et al).
Therefore, when a Jew today believes and becomes a member of the Body of Christ, is he saved in or out of due time? on the basis of covenants and promises, or by grace? according to prophecy, or according to the mystery revealed through Paul? Likewise, when a Gentile today believes and becomes a member of the Body of Christ, is he saved in or out of due time? The answer to these questions are obvious. Both believing Jews and Gentiles today are saved by grace according to the mystery revealed through Paul, entirely apart from any covenant or promise (save the promise God made to Himself in eternity past — Titus 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:9).
Thus the apostle Paul has a closer relationship to God’s people today than he does to redeemed Israel of the future, for we, like Paul, have been born “out of due time,” by grace alone. — Stam, pages 253-254.
least of the apostles (v.9) — 1 Timothy 1:15; Ephesians 3:8
church (v.9) — the Kingdom assembly in Judea, not the Body of Christ
vain (v.10) = lacking in anything which might or should be possessed
so we preach (v.11) — in context, referring to the bodily resurrection of Christ. Paul is not saying that he and the other apostles preached all the same things.