JohnSWilson3 Blog

“…the worst of sinners.”
November 1, 2015, 4:24 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

God’s grace was poured out so abundantly on Paul that he is moved to not just confess it was because of having been a blasphemer, persecutor, or violent man but because he was a sinner, and not just a sinner but “the worst of sinners.” Why would God in Christ even consider Paul worth saving is perhaps what Paul was thinking. We probably think the same thing reflecting back on our past life. But “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Paul has used this word “sinners” in several forms throughout his writings to the ekklesias. He had mentioned earlier that the law was for the “sinful.” And technically, as Paul quoted from Psalms to the Roman ekklesia, every person is a sinner, for “there is none righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10) We all have missed the mark of what God approves and are forfeit, without Christ we are already condemned. (1) And if we have not believed on Christ Jesus as Lord we are forfeit of His unending life, so that when we die physically we no longer will live, the finality of destruction awaits us, according to Jesus’s words. (John 3:16-18) The “other persons” at Ephesus had been primarily focused on this and the law but had forgotten that there is good news! There is hope! Christ Jesus came, died, rose again, and ascended so that He might save all who would believe on Him so that He might live in them, us, by His Spirit. Perhaps each of us at some time, and I have heard it from some believers, have felt that we were “the worst of sinners,” but now we have new eyes to see how wonderfully abundant God’s grace was poured out on us, and how we have been “shown mercy!” Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved! Christ is faithful! He is trustworthy to save us and help us and live His life in us. He really is faithful to save us completely. (2)

All of this abundant grace and mercy was so that “Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” No matter how bad or evil you think you are or what you have done to yourself or others there is hope for you. Paul is that example. For someone who actually sought out, persecuted, and had put to death those who were believers in Jesus like Paul, we also have hope of being saved by Christ. And this eternal life, is not just life that is forever and unending, but a new kind of life. A life that is new and real and true, that is “other” than our physical life. (3) It is about the quality of life that comes from God Himself, in fact it is His life we receive. This new life is Christ who now lives in us by the Holy Spirit. Christ wants to “display” His life in and through us to others, His life of patience, grace, mercy, love, hope, and faith. In his letter previously to the ekklesia in Ephesus Paul wrote that the ekklesia had been raised and seated “in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” to “display” “the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6-7) That was God’s purpose from the beginning! We are no longer to live on our own, by our own power, but on Him and His power that comes from His life. This brings about a wonderful exclamation by Paul as he reflects on this new life in him, Christ in him, in us: “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (4)

When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and we learn to live by His life in us, life forever changes in our understanding of God. We begin to see Him as He really is. Our delusion induced self-life is replaced with the reality of His life. He is the real Ruler of the unending life, life both now and beyond this physical life. His life in us alone is indestructible and incorruptible. We can only see Him and understand Him through the spiritual eyes that He gives us. He alone is Supreme over all things and the sole sustainer of all things. It is He who should be respected and valued! It is He who should be given renown and splendor! Not just now but it will be so through the times unending to the unending times! This is truth, this is reality right now! In Christ life forever changes from seeing this life being about us to being about Him!

(1) “Hamartánō, means “to forfeit by missing the mark.”
(2) Interestingly Paul’s thoughts of being shown mercy is set before and after an interesting phrase. The phrase translated by most translators is “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance…” The Greek words in this phrase are very similar to the phrase he used in his second letter to the ekklesia in Corinth. “But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is…” Side by side these two verses in the Greek transliteration looks like this:
2 Cor. 1:18. pistos de ho Theos hoti ho logos hemon ho pros hymas… “faithful moreover is God that the logos of us to you..”
1 Tim. 1:15. pistos ho logos kai pases apodoches axios hoti… “faithful is the logos and full acceptance worthy that…”
In just a few years before writing to Timothy Paul had already previously used this phrase “God is faithful” and in the same sentence the “logos,” in his second letter to the ekklesia in Corinth. Paul now connects those words, now using only the Logos, which John in his gospel describes as our indwelling Lord. Paul did seem to use the Greek word logos in many of his letters, some with the translation “saying” but in other instances it could well be translated “Logos,” our indwelling Lord, such as in his later letter to the Colossians “Let the Word (Logos) of Christ richly dwell within you.” For many decades the Logos had been used to represent the indwelling Christ in His people and in some contexts is used to describe “saying” although in other instances it could be used for either, such as here in 1 Timothy. It wasn’t until John the apostle formalized in his gospel that “the Word (Logos) is God” did it perhaps became fully revealed. It is possible that Paul may have met up with John in Ephesus before writing 1 Timothy, as John was believed to have written his gospel to non-Jewish believers in Ephesus. This is based on the theory of an early writing of the gospel of John. From textual analysis some scholars believe the gospel of John was written sometime before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, versus c. AD 90 as many other scholars claim.
Given this, 1 Timothy 1:15 could be written: “The Logos is faithful and worthy of full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst.” This is perhaps to differentiate between the current activity of Christ in us as the Logos and Christ who came in human flesh, which Paul describes in the next few sentences. I do not believe it is that much of a stretch for Paul to use Logos with our indwelling Lord as John the apostle did in his gospel. If you believe otherwise then that is fine, I believe the phrase to describe Christ in us confirming with our conscience that He came to save sinners.
(3) T. Austin Sparks described God’s life as “altogether other” in his article “Horizoned by Life.”
(4) This could be written, using an amplification of the meanings of the words: “Now to the Ruler of the unending times, who cannot be destroyed and who cannot be corrupted, who cannot be seen with physical eyes, who alone is the Supreme owner over and sustainer of all things, be respect and value and renown and splendor to the times unending of the unending times. It is so.” At you can go to each word and see the meaning of each.