1 Timothy 1:12-17 (NIV)
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible,the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
New Testament scholar F. F. Bruce wrote: “The free grace of God which Paul proclaimed is free grace in more senses than one – free in the sense that it is sovereign and unfettered, free in the sense that it is held forth to men and women for their acceptance by faith alone, and free in the sense that it is the source and principle of their liberation from all kinds of inward and spiritual bondage, including the bondage of legalism and the bondage of moral anarchy.”
Paul was a transformed and grateful recipient of God’s grace. Before meeting Jesus on the Damascus road (see Acts 9), he had been “a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man” (v. 13). Now he was an apostle who had been entrusted with the gospel message. What caused this about-face? God’s mercy, grace, faith, and love had been poured out on him abundantly. The Lord changed Paul’s ignorance to knowledge and his unbelief to belief. The blasphemer became a missionary; the persecutor became willing to endure suffering himself.
Before his conversion, Paul had opposed the gospel, but now he championed it. The expression “Here is a trustworthy saying” compares to the “verily, verily” or “truly, truly” used by Jesus in the Gospels (v. 15). It means that this is an important point—everyone listening should pay attention because the next statement carries particular weight and power. In this case, the phrase is almost creedal: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
Paul’s life was a praise-filled testimony to this theological truth. He was an example of God’s life-changing mercy and love, of the patience of Christ in turning enemies into friends and followers, and of a man intent on spiritual death transformed by the gift of eternal life.
Devotional forwarded to you by:
UP CHRISTIAN YOUTH MOVEMENT
NCCP Ecumenical Ministry of the Church of the Risen Lord
University of the Philippines, Diliman Campus, QCS