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Summary: It is God who gifts us with faith, and who equips us for the ministry He has given us. Ignorance is no excuse. If the chief of sinners can be saved, then so can I, and so can you. To God be the glory.

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PAUL’S TESTIMONY

1 Timothy 1:12-17

Paul is ‘an Apostle of Jesus Christ according to the command of God our Saviour, and of the Lord Jesus Christ our hope’ (1 Timothy 1:1).

I. THANKSGIVING

The Apostle gives thanks to the One who strengthened Him for this service, Christ Jesus our Lord. Furthermore, Paul marvels that he - of all people - was esteemed as faithful - especially considering his past life (1 Timothy 1:12-13).

Faith, of course, is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). So is our equipping for the service of the gospel. Paul was first given the gift of faith, and then called to - and equipped for - his ministry (1 Timothy 1:12).

II. PAUL’S PAST LIFE

The Apostle describes what he once was (1 Timothy 1:13):

1. As a blasphemer himself, he also compelled others to blaspheme.

2. As a persecutor, he pursued believers even to foreign cities.

3. Paul’s violence saw him cast his vote for the death sentence.

(See also Acts 26:9-11).

III. THE SIN OF IGNORANCE

Yet, for all that, he did it “ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Timothy 1:13).

This is not to give an excuse for the sin of unbelief (John 3:18) - but it does offer some mitigation for the sin of ignorance (Leviticus 5:17-19).

Jesus prayed on the Cross for those who ‘know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34).

Paul no doubt benefited from this prayer, and also the similar prayer of Stephen (Acts 7:60) (the latter of which he will have heard as he held the coats whilst the church’s first martyr was stoned).

IV. THE GRACE OF GOD

This was because the grace of our Lord “super-abounded” towards Paul - producing within him both the faith, and the love, which emanate from Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 1:14).

‘Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound’ (Romans 5:20). However, ignorance still requires repentance (Acts 3:17-19).

V. ‘A TRUSTWORTHY SAYING’

There follows a short, expressive saying which encapsulates the whole essence of the gospel. It is indeed “worthy of all acceptation” (1 Timothy 1:15).

1. The Person of our Lord is declared under two names:

(i) “Christ” (Messiah, or anointed one). In Ancient Israel prophets, priests and kings were anointed.

(ii) “Jesus” (Saviour - see Matthew 1:21).

2. We see the work of Christ.

(i). He is the One who came into the world - the incarnation.

(ii). He came to save sinners - His work on the Cross.

(iii) He came to save even the chief of sinners.

VI. CONCLUSION

If the chief of sinners can be saved, then I can be saved, and so can you.

Indeed, the Apostle considered his own testimony as a pattern of the patience and long-suffering of the Lord ‘towards all who will believe unto eternal life’ (1 Timothy 1:16).

VII. DOXOLOGY

It is no wonder that this encouraging testimony ends with a word of doxology (1 Timothy 1:17).

1. “Now to the King of the ages” is addressed to the eternal God.

2. He is incorruptible, and immortal.

3. He is invisible - no man has seen Him.

However, He is revealed in His Son (John 1:18).

4. He is the only (‘wise’) God (cf. Romans 16:27).

5. To whom be “honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”


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