1 Corinthians 15:3 For I (Paul) handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, unfit 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 has not been in vain.
Compared to the 12 apostles who accompanied Jesus during his earthly ministry, Paul is “least of the apostles”. He didn’t spend a single day with Jesus prior to his resurrection, a fact I expect some people used as a criticism. Paul doesn’t deny this, but also points out that despite his diminished pedigree in the eyes of some, Jesus did in fact appear to him and call him to be an apostle to the Gentiles.
v.10 “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain”.
I understand Paul’s way of thinking here. My first year of seminary I remember feeling terribly inferior to my classmates. I knew so little about the church, about the teachings of the faith, about being a pastor. All I knew for sure was that I had been called by Jesus to be a minister of the gospel. And I prayed that would be enough, that the Lord would somehow make up for my many deficiencies. The Lord has been faithful to me in this regard and I pray “his grace toward me has not been in vain”. Lord let it be so. Amen.