1. Fellow Worker
All of these metaphors can equally describe any one in the body of Christ. You do not need to function apostolically to own these terms. This is important to recognize when looking into the nature and function of apostolic ministry. Paul is first a brother in the Lord, then a "father" in the gospel. Paul is first a disciple of Jesus, then a leader for Jesus. Paul is first a partner in the gospel, then a steward/custodian of the gospel etc.
There is an egalitarian nature to Paul's ministry as an apostle. He is not an elitist. He is a fellow worker in the gospel, right along side of the communities he plants. However, as we will see in the next two posts, he does use metaphors that help frame his role as an apostle among the communities he founds.