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Timothy Series - Lesson Five

John Baugh
August, 2008

 (1 Timothy 1: 12-17)

Confessions, Trustworthy Statements and Doxologies

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.

15It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
(1 Timothy 1:12-17 NASB)

In the verses leading up to verse 12, Paul has given Timothy instructions, laying out the work to be done in Ephesus and describing the people of Ephesus. Based on what Paul writes, Timothy has every right to be concerned with the tasks he has been given to accomplish. Understanding this, beginning with verse 12, Paul reassures his young disciple by restating his relationship with Christ Jesus. As always, Paul offers his own experiences for use as a model of grace and forgiveness. His confession follows the path and reasoning that he has used on other occasions (1 Corinthians 15: 8-10, Galatians 1:13).

Paul's Confession:

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.

All of us live with the past and our actions. Paul's history was well known in the churches he helped established and worked with as they grew. The past was a weight Paul carried with him at all times. Once again Paul returns to the beginning of his relationship with Christ Jesus and how the Lord chose to use him.

Paul knew that:

1 - Christ strengthened him:

To turn away from his old life and take on the new life in Christ.
To accomplish the work that was to be done.
To stand against the opposition he would see.
To deal with the personal sacrifice that he would endure.

2 - Christ considered him faithful:

To the calling of an Apostle.
To the task of telling the story of forgiveness, reconciliation and redemption.
To the need for a lifelong commitment.
To the call of the Great Commission.

3 - Christ put him into service:

He showed Paul the work that was yet to be done.
He prepared him for the work.
He gave him the resources to accomplish the work.
He pointed the way and led Paul.
He provided the strength Paul would need each day to accomplish the work.

Christ did this even though:

1 - Paul was formerly a blasphemer, who spoke out against all of those who followed Christ.
2 - Paul was a persecutor who worked to ravage the church, entering house after house and dragging off men and women, putting them in prison (Acts 8:3).
3 - Paul was a violent aggressor who obtained writs from the church in Jerusalem to seek out followers of The Way and have them bound up and brought to Jerusalem for trail. (Acts 9:2). He was the one who held the coats of those who stoned Stephen to death and stood in agreement with what they did (Acts 7:58 8:1).

In spite of these things Paul was shown mercy because he acted ignorantly in unbelief.

The grace of the Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.

Paul wrote that the Lord's grace (a gift that Paul never deserved) was more than abundant. In Paul's mind, there would have been an amount of grace that would have been sufficient, perhaps knowing that he was forgiven of his actions against the early believers. A gift of abundant grace might have been a constant reminder of this forgiveness, expressed in the support of fellow believers. However, Paul saw "more than abundant" treatment from the Lord. He saw the Lord's grace when he experienced the brotherly love of Ananias and healing at the house of Judas, on the street called Straight in Damascus. He saw it in the help from the group of disciples who rescued him from those who sought to kill him in Damascus by lowering him down the wall in a basket to help him escape. He saw grace continue throughout all of the years of his ministry in all of the actions of friendship, love and respect he had received from those to whom he ministered.

Paul attributed this grace to the faith and love that are found in Christ Jesus. Paul knew that the Holy Spirit was with him daily as he faithfully served to accomplish all that needed to be done. Christ never allowed any misunderstanding of the importance of faith as the basis for salvation, for obtaining God's support, power and strength.

There are many places in scripture where either Jesus or his disciples spoke of:

Those with little faith - Matthew 6:30, 8:26, 13:58, 14:31, 16:8, 17:20, Mark 4:4, 6:6, 16:14, Luke 8:25, and 12:28. 

Those with much faith - Matthew 8:10, 9:2, 9:22, 9:29, 15:28, 21:21, Mark 2:5, 5:34, 10:52, Luke 5:20, 7:9, 7:50, 8:48, and 17:19.

Those who put their faith in him - John 2:11, 7:21, 8:30, 11:45, 12:11.

Faith is addressed 48 times in the Gospel accounts and 286 times throughout the New Testament. Paul certainly knew about faith, since he wrote about faith 150 times in his Epistles. The faith he wrote about was faith in the Father and in his son, Christ Jesus.

Paul knew the love of Christ Jesus.

- It was the love that reached out to spare him after his encounter on the road to Damascus.
- It was the love that led him to the knowledge of Christ Jesus and the compelling witness of that love that built churches and stood before opposition that ranged from stubborn refusal to open hostility.
- Paul understood the love that sent the Holy Spirit to him, providing comfort, peace and power.
- He wrote about the love that we need to show for one another, modeling the love that Christ Jesus showed for us.
- He wrote about the kindness, gentleness, patience, humility, depth, sincerity and spirit of love.
- He wrote of the great love of the Father, the love of the son and the love we should have for each other.
- He understood the love that led Christ Jesus to the cross to willingly stand in place for Paul's (and our) sins.

This is what Paul wrote about the love of Christ Jesus in his letter to the Romans

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:35-39 NASB)

Continuing with verse 15-16:

15It is a trustworthy statement,
deserving full acceptance,
that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,
among whom I am foremost of all.

Jesus used the statement "Verily I say unto you" 25 times to indicate statements of absolute importance. Paul opens the thoughts expressed to Timothy in verses 15 & 16 with a similar statement of importance. These verses contain thoughts that Paul wanted Timothy to take into his heart and keep them for that day and for the future. The statement Paul uses is, "It is a trustworthy statement".

In a similar situation, I might have written, "You can trust this to be the truth". When I was a kid, I would have said, "Honest Injun". As a Boy Scout, I would have said, "On my honor, this is the truth".

In Greek, Paul wrote "Pistos Logos", or "It is a trustworthy statement". Paul uses this statement on five different occasions in his letters (1 Timothy 1:15, 3:1, 4:9, 2 Timothy 2:11 and Titus 3:8)

Paul then tells Timothy that the statement deserves full acceptance. In other words, nothing that follows should be doubted. In court we swear an oath to "Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth". Everything that follows that oath needs to be true, if what we testify "is a trustworthy statement". This is what Paul wanted Timothy to understand.

Continuing With Verse 16

16Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,
among whom I am foremost of all.

Paul understood many things about Christ Jesus, but he knew two things very well:

1 - He knew the reason Christ Jesus came. Christ was one on a mission with work to complete that held absolute eternal significance and importance. It would impact all of the people of all nations of the world from the point of completion until the end of the world and from that point would continue on, spanning eternity. The work Christ Jesus had been given was to save those who were dead in sin, so that they might live, serve and glorify God the Father.

2 - Paul knew his place among sinners. He gave himself the rank of "foremost of all". Some might argue that others have sinned to a greater degree and that Paul did not belong in such a group. However, Paul would give the reasoning of their argument little consideration. In his mind and in all of his statements regarding his past, he takes the position that his "lost-ness" was complete. His sins against God were unforgivable. He was a man without hope. And then Christ Jesus came to set him right with God. It could be said that God's grace was greater than all of Paul's sins against God. That is the case with all of us.    

Another Look, From William Barclay

In his book The New Daily Study Bible -The Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, (third edition pages 45 - 53), William Barclay titles this passage "Saved to Serve". In covering verses 12-17 of Chapter 1 of 1st Timothy, Barclay writes that:

1 - Paul never forgot that "Christ had chosen him".
As Luke reports in Acts, Saul did not choose Christ Jesus. Instead, Christ Jesus chose Paul.
2 - He thanks Jesus for "trusting him".
Christ Jesus trusted him to be the one who would complete the task of going out to the Gentile world as an evangelist, church builder, and foreign missionary for the sake of the Gospel.
3 - He thanks Jesus for "Appointing him…to service".
Christ Jesus appointed Paul to be the Apostle to the gentile world, which includes you and me. Paul always stated his belief that he was appointed by Christ Jesus for the task of service. Apostle was a position he was awarded. He had been given the position of ambassador, serving the King.
4 - He thanks Jesus for "empowering him".
Christ Jesus gives no one a task without giving them the power to complete that task. In the most definitive statement of the great commission, Matthew wrote:

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
(Matthew 28: 18-20 NASB)

 When Paul was working to fulfill the great commission, Christ Jesus was with him. He knew that Christ Jesus was with him in this work to be both truth and fact ("A trustworthy statement") because he and experienced it time after time, day after day, in a thousand ways.

Barclay goes on (p-51) to speculate that "The memory of his sin was the surest way to keep (Paul) from pride", saying that "there could be no such thing as spiritual pride for one who had done the things he had done". Barclay goes on to compare Paul with John Newton, the slave trader and eventual minister and writer of the Hymn "Amazing Grace".

The following is from Barclay (p 51):

"John Newton was one of the great preachers and the supreme hymn writers of the eighteenth century, but he had sunk to the lowest depths to which anyone can sink in the days when he sailed the seas in a slave trader's ship. So, when he became a converted man and a preacher of the gospel, he wrote a text in great letters and fastened it above the mantelpiece of his study where he could not fail to see it: 'Thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt and the Lord thy God redeemed Thee.' He also composed his own epitaph: 'John Newton, Clerk, once an Infidel and Libertine, a Servant of Slaves in Africa, was by the mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Preserved, Restored, Pardoned, and Appointed to Preach the Faith he had so long labored to destroy.' John Newton never forgot that he was a forgiven sinner; neither did Paul. Neither must we. It does us good to remember our sins; it saves us from spiritual pride."

Continuing with verse 16:

16Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
(1 Timothy 1:16 NASB)

Paul understood why Christ Jesus chose him and appointed him, trusted him and empowered him for the work. He knew that these actions demonstrated the perfection of Christ; what Paul called "his perfect patience" that Christ Jesus could take one such as Paul and accomplish the task of the great commission. In accomplishing this through Paul, Christ Jesus provided a perfect example for all of us who have followed throughout the years. We see Paul, "as the foremost", and understand that we too, can have eternal life through belief in the power of Christ Jesus to restore, reconcile and cleanse us from the power of sin. Paul served as an example to the churches he started in his days and continues (almost 2000 years later) to illustrate what Christ Jesus can do to a yielded heart and life; for those who call on him as Lord.

Ending This Passage With a Doxology (Verse 17)

17Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

In Greek, "Doxo" = "Glory" and "Logy" = "the study of". These words represent one of Paul's Doxologies, or studies of the Glory of God.

The doxology is Paul's. The elaboration is mine.

- God is King of everything. All of time and space belong to God.
- God is eternal, with no beginning and no end.
- God is immortal - one who will never cease to be, exempt from death.
- We do not see God, but God's presence is always with us.
- God is the only one. There is no other than God.
- God deserves all honor and is worthy of the highest respect, possesses the highest reputation. God is worthy of all recognition and distinction.
- God is glorious and worthy of all praise, honor, admiration and renown.
- This worthiness exists now as it has in all of the past, as it will as far as eternity takes us - forever and ever.
- Amen - May it be so.

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