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Summary: The "faithful sayings" are short succinct statements of belief, worthy of full acceptance by all. They are a trademark of the letters of Paul to Timothy and Titus.

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THE FAITHFUL SAYINGS IN THE PASTORAL EPISTLES

The hymn book of the New Testament church was no doubt the Book of Psalms, thus establishing the continuity of worship from synagogue to church. However, there are hints in Paul’s writings of other formulae which may have been used in public devotion. These might have taken the form of songs, or of liturgy, or of straightforward doctrinal statement.

The “faithful sayings” of the Pastoral Epistles are examples of such statements. Since Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus are of a late date within the New Testament, this may also indicate that Paul is not so much coining new sayings as quoting those already in currency.

“This is a faithful saying” is Paul’s imprimatur of what he is quoting.

Faithfulness speaks of being loyal, reliable, true to the facts. We speak of God being faithful, and of men and women who remain firm in their commitments and convictions.

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

The Person of our Lord is declared in two names:

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

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

We see the work of Christ:

He is the One who came into the world - the incarnation;

He came to save sinners - His work on the Cross;

He came to save even the chief of sinners.

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

1 Timothy 3:1 commends the aspirations of those who desire to serve God in the church. It speaks particularly of the office of a bishop, or overseer: a title which is used interchangeably in the New Testament with presbyter, or elder - not so much a diocesan Bishop as those who rule and minister within the local church.

Such a desire is “a good thing.”

Although not part of the “faithful sayings” proper, there is also another wonderful statement with regard to the faith which deserves our attention: 1 Timothy 3:16. Here a “mystery” (a hitherto hidden truth) is revealed. There follows a succinct creed.

1 Timothy 4:8-9 balances our obligations to our spiritual wellbeing against bodily exercise. It is well to note here that there is no indefinite article in the Greek language, so it may well be that “bodily exercise profits a little.” However, godliness is of far greater value.

2 Timothy 2:11-12 balances our sufferings with the glory to come (see also Romans 8:18 and 2 Corinthians 4:17-18). 2 Timothy 2:12-13 measures our faithlessness against God’s faithfulness.

Titus 3:8 upholds Paul’s doctrine of good works after faith. Those who imagine that Paul and James disagreed on this point within the New Testament are sadly mistaken.

Paul teaches faith without works, but only so that those who are God’s workmanship may move on into the good works which God has before prepared (Ephesians 2:8-10).


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