… to imitate Paul. Or David, or Peter, or James, or the apostle John.
The reason for this is that, first, Paul points us to his own example. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). So, this is the right thing to do.
But, second, the reason for this is that we actually understand Christ better when we see his image expressed through multiple lenses.
For example, Jesus’ earthly life was prior to the giving of the Spirit and the full commencement of the New Covenant. What does it look like to live out Christ’s example today, in the new covenant era?
One way to know this, of course, is to simply understand the gospels very well and apply his example to our situation. But another way, which helps us from potential misapplication at times, is to look at how his apostles, such as Paul, imitated him — which imitation did happen in the new covenant era.
So by looking not only at how Christ literally lived, but how other “inspired” examples (in a sense) interpreted his example and applied it to their context, we get a better picture of how to imitate Christ himself.
And, through this, we ourselves can also become better reflections of Christ’s character in the world so that we are yet another level of example that helps others see what the Lord is like (1 Thessalonians 1:7; 1 Timothy 4:12).