“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 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. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:12-17).
Notice that Paul was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent man. We are quite sure that he was not an adulterer, or thief, or liar. He would have said so. He did say he was the worst of sinners. Mercy was shown him for two reasons: l) he acted in ignorance and unbelief; 2) he was the worst of sinners. Ignorance did not keep him from being the worst of sinners.
We are used to hearing of immoral sinners receiving Christ. We do not have the same hope for blaspheming, persecuting, violent men. Many nations have this type of person. Paul was used as an example of Christ’s unlimited patience for those kinds of people who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
Written October 1985.
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