12 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.
Every Christian ought to be filled with a sense of gratitude for the salvation they enjoy in the Lord Jesus Christ. The former slave trader John Newton expressed his gratitude with these famous words, “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see”. In this passage Paul reveals his gratitude for salvation by means of two powerful truths concerning the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ – the transformation of the gospel (1:12-14) and the trustworthiness of the gospel (1:15-17).
The Transformation of the Gospel (1 Tim. 1:12-14)
Paul begins by expressing his gratitude to the Lord for the transforming power of the gospel. He does this by thanking the Lord for a triad of blessings and for the transformation from a triad of depravity. The three blessings that Christ has granted him came as a result of believing in the glorious gospel – strength, faithfulness and appointment to service (1:12). It was the same gospel that transformed him who was formerly “a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent” (1:13a). Unlike the religious hypocrite, Paul “acted ignorantly in unbelief” (1:13b). Like all sinners, his salvation came by God’s mercy and the Lord’s grace was abundant (1:14).
The Trustworthiness of the Gospel (1 Tim. 1:15-17)
After thanking the Lord for the transforming power of the gospel, he affirms the trustworthiness of the gospel. He declares that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is “trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance” (1:15). This faithful saying (cf. 3:1; 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:11; and Titus 3:8) reveals three essential elements to the gospel, namely the Saviour (“Christ Jesus“), the sinners (“the world“), and the salvation (“save sinners“). The super-abounding grace of God in the life of Paul serves as an example of others who are going to be saved (1:16). After considering such glorious truths of the gospel, Paul concludes with a hymn of praise (doxology) declaring, “to the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1:17). The deeper one goes into the deep truths of the gospel, the higher and loftier our worship will be.
Like Paul, we ought to display gratitude for God’s grace in the gospel. Remember your transformation and the trustworthiness of the gospel, and respond by praising God with your walk and words. In closing, consider the wonderful words of Isaac Watt’s hymn, “Alas! And Did my Saviour Bleed?”
“At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away, It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day!“
1. Read the following passages and make some observations concerning Paul’s conversion and testimony (Acts 9:1-9; Gal. 1:13-24; Phil. 3:4-11).
2. Who is the source of spiritual service (1:12)? See also John 15:4-5 and Phil. 4:13.
3. Paul received mercy and was transformed (1:13a). Discuss the meaning of “I had acted ignorantly in unbelief” (1:13b). See also Numbers 15:22-31.
4. The trustworthy saying (cf. 3:1; 4:9; 2 Tim. 2:11; and Titus 3:8) in 1:15 contains the gospel in a “nutshell”. Discuss the essential elements of the gospel found in this verse.
5. After thanking the Lord for the transforming power of the gospel Paul concludes with a doxology (short hymn of praise). How does thanksgiving and remembrance of God’s grace influence our worship?