Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Tag Archives: invisible

The chief of sinners receives mercy

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The chief of sinners

This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse fifteen of the first chapter of First Timothy.

15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Have you ever done a task in your home and involved your kids? If you have you will know that however small the task is, even if it is just cleaning or tidying up your kid’s room, involving the kids is as much for your benefit as it is theirs. Yes you are teaching them good behaviors; however it is the coolest thing to do is to spend time working alongside your kids, co-laboring to achieve a common goal. I was out in the front yard last week and I mowed the lawn, my kid came out advising that she was going to help me. So I gave her a rake (she is only 5) and I let her drag the rake behind me and she did well to the best of her abilities, she got tired very quickly and went back in and I finished the job myself, but for those few moment we worked together it was truly a blessing. Imagine that that is what God is like with his kids; he loves it when we work on his projects with him.

Paul goes on to call himself the chief of all sinners. He states that he has a faithful saying (used 5 times in the epistles) and goes on to explains the point of what they are doing there. They are to speak of the Messiah and the reason for his coming “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” and that was the basis of Paul’s ministry.

Basis of every Christian’s ministry

To be fair it should be the basis of every Christian’s ministry, to present the gospel of Jesus Christ and explain why Jesus came and the purpose of his mission here on earth. Paul then goes on to call himself the chief of all sinners, this throws me as Paul is such an example to me in my Christian walk and if I could use one as an example then it would be Paul. (Obviously behind Jesus) what humility the apostle has!

We can’t forget what the purpose of Christ’s mission was to save a sinner that is us! Regardless of how holy you think you are, how many years since your conversion you are in the most basic of terms a “sinner” it is the one thing we have in common, where we get a superiority complex is the types of sins we commit. Some of us fall more regularly than others and some fall in different areas to others, but in the truest sense of the world, we were all born with a sinful nature and Christ came to save us all.

Recognize the need for a Savior

We have to recognize the sin in order to see the need for a Savior. I have listened to messages on different websites from preachers who barely touch on, or never mention sin. We have to realize that there is something wrong (sin) that there is a separation from God and the need for a Messiah (Jesus). Otherwise we are just doing a bunch of holy rules for no decent reason.

Paul goes on goes on to say “But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” Paul never regarded himself and reveals the true heart of his writings. Paul isn’t being all “false modesty” here; Paul saw his sins for what they were and how they removed him from God.

This is just my opinion but reading between the lines I see a sense of guilt by Paul of his former life as Saul of Tarsus, the persecution, the deaths, the fear he drove into those he now called brothers in the faith. He saw his sins, the ones causing suffering, death and the ones involving religious persecution as what elevated him to a “chief of sinners” status.

Confirmation in Acts 26

Acts 26 confirms this when Paul is relaying his history to Agrippa…

Acts 26:9 (ESV) “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

Paul is remembering his actions, not just the torture but making his new brothers in the faith to be under such weight of stress to blaspheme what they believed in order for this horror to stop! I bet that was playing on Paul’s mind, the sights, the sounds and even the smells that would bring his mind back to what he had seen, what he had done and what he had supervised in his zealousness to break this new faith.

Mentally that has to be tough; I know that had that been me I would have a mass weight of guilt surrounding me. I would state that he had shadows and memories much in the same way that a war veteran has. His thoughts and guilt about his prior actions make him ponder whether any sinner could have sinned too great for God to redeem him. Paul makes this clear when he talks of “obtained mercy”.

V16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

The picture that Paul paints of himself does make one ponder if there is a sin so great that God cannot absolve? Paul is grateful here for the mercy received and shows that your sins, whether they be few of many can be forgiven by a loving God who does not desire that any should perish.

Perfect patience

Paul credits Jesus Christ with showing his “perfect patience” he shows to be that he realizes that God could have wiped him out at any point! (We serve a big God who made all that we see in six days, nuking a troublesome Pharisee would not be a nano-second on his calendar!) But God had a plan for his life, he was going to become the person he hated a short time ago, his zeal for the Law would become a zeal for the Christ.

He would be an example! He would shine as an example to what Jesus preached throughout his ministry “I desire mercy over judgment” Paul would become an example that no one is beyond redemption.

V17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Imagine the rejoicing! Paul knew who he was and what he did. He also knew how great the fathers love for us, how far reaching that Salvation was that it had found him on a lonely dusty road on the way to Damascus – is it any wonder he bursts into praise? He who has been forgiven much remembers much!

Paul’s hymn of praise

Paul lists the attributes of his praise to God here:

King of the Ages
Invisible
The only God
The one worthy of glory and honor forever

Which brings me to my last point, how is your praise life? Do we burst with praise because we know who we are and what we have been forgiven from? We could learn a lot from the gratitude and thankfulness of Paul’s heart.

It is not as if Paul had it easy! Paul had a hard mission life and he never threw in the towel. He was persecuted, chased from cities, had many nautical disasters but through it all he realized that he was simply a messenger of God’s word and was available to be used by God. What a wonderful example of pure praise to our Father God. It is not about the words we use but how plugged in our heart is.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

Christ Jesus came to save sinners

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Christ Jesus Came to Save Sinners

This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse twelve of the first chapter of First Timothy.

He has judged me faithful

Paul goes on to write…

V12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Paul makes it personal; he talks about his own testimony. Revelation 12 advises that the accuser will be thrown down by “The blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony” see below for full counsel of God…

Revelation 12:9 (ESV) And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death

Do not underestimate the power of your testimony! In sales people buy from people, if you can show in your life the reason for your faith, if you can show that your testimony does not end at conversion but there is a daily, life changing work being done in your life, that will cause people to question this faith and see that it is real. Paul speaks honestly who he was and what he did and where he was in that day.

Paul thanks Jesus because he has judged him faithful, he could see right into Saul’s heart that day on the road to Damascus, he knew who he was picking. Jesus hand-picked Paul for that mission, to reach the gentiles for Jesus Christ. He was counted, he was called as faithful, and he was one who was able to be used of God.

Correct attitude towards service

Paul has the right attitude towards his service; he often called himself a slave, a bondservant or Jesus Christ. One who volunteered himself into a life bound by service unto God’s will for our lives, Paul demonstrates a faithfulness that shows that he was completely compliant to his mission on earth. He was completely sold out on his main priority, furthering the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul shows that regardless of where God has planted us, we can be faithful where we are at. We have to be faithful in the small things first and then as we grow God will test us and stretch us into further works for him. This is why it is vital we don’t beg for deliverance every time we are tested or tried, how are we meant to learn and grow in God if we never learn or grow in God?

Paul was in ministry (or service) he made tents during the working hours and spread the Gospel at every opportunity, he was not only in ministry when he spoke in the Synagogues. He was in ministry when he was sewing a tent, when he was chained to a Roman, wherever God had him.

This is a phenomenal lesson to us all as some of us will not serve unless we are a position to be noticed. Jesus spoke about those types of servants and advised the ones who sought the praises of man “had their reward already” and that is a real danger to us all as many good ministries have been damaged or torched by individual pride.

Useable > talented

We have to be useable, not necessarily talented but most certainly useable. I am no great theologian, but God has put a desire in my heart to research and write about his holy word. I am no great teacher, but God has given me people willing to come with a thirst to hear the word of God (not me) I am not really talented in many areas but I want to be used for his glory as opposed to mine.

I am not at all good with public kudos I am sure I have shared that before; when a pastor or leader shouts my name from the front of the church I do get a wee bit embarrassed and tend not to enjoy it. I am a behind the scenes guy who is just as happy stacking chairs as I am teaching a bible study. I am not saying this because it is one of the few things that I have right however we should try to bloom in God where we are planted for his glory first.

God’s choice = Glory to God

God knows how to pick them doesn’t he? Paul describes himself as a “former blasphemer and persecutor” but this is what I love about the bible, God picks the unlikely candidate to show that it was him that did it. He picked the leading thorn in the side to people of “the Way” the one that if there had been a Billboard Chart of top 100 feared Pharisees Paul would have been “Top of the Pops” every time.

He took this man and gave him a place in the front line, he knew Paul’s heart, knew how faithful he was and how faithful he would be and rather than let his past be a hindrance, he put him to work as a front line missionary in one of the most dangerous territories in the world. His conversion was not the end, but merely the first step in a new life as Paul the apostle rather than Saul the persecutor.

He was given an audience with the LORD and he states that he was “formerly” Paul shows that the grace of God was enough not just to get him into heaven but to wipe away the wrongs of the past and qualified him for service in Christian service. Paul shows Timothy that his past didn’t disqualify him; he states that he did it in “ignorance” God used Paul in spite of Paul, his greeting here to Timothy was that he should remain despite how inadequate he felt.

Who is worthy of service?

This is a common occurrence in Christian ministry, that people will try to disqualify themselves because they deem themselves unworthy. Truth is, none of us are actually worthy however in spite of us, and God will still find a way to use us. As imperfect as we are, as incapable as we may think we are God knows who we really are and that is why he has called us. We are called not because of who we are, but by God’s grace. We should take heart from Paul’s experience that he received mercy as opposed to judgment.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE