17 September 20181 Timothy 1:12-17
The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. (vs. 15-16)
Psalm: Psalm 139
Paul’s letters to Timothy (there are 2) and one to Titus are sometimes called “the Pastoral Letters”. They are best understood not as letters home to a friend, but rather as teaching for the community; the letters urge and encourage the churches Paul has visited in earlier times to live faithfully and continue in the way of Jesus. The author who writes in Paul’s name seems to be preparing them for when he is no longer alive and gives guidance and advice in the letters. They are written around the year 110 (CE) when the Christian Church has experienced some official persecution under the Emperor Domitian. They were written just as the Church is developing into a global phenomenon and becoming visible and present in the surrounding culture rather than a series of small fellowship or house churches.
Paul does not just have knowledge of the good news that Jesus Christ proclaims. He has personal experience. He is, therefore, a powerful witness to the good news of the love and mercy God offers the world in the person of Jesus Christ. Paul speaks to the churches where the letter will be read aloud and does so with authority and status, not because he is learned, a scholar, wealthy and accomplished, but rather because he has a past. Paul had persecuted the followers of Jesus before he met the risen Jesus himself on the road to Damascus and was converted to a new way of life and belief in Jesus.
His authority to speak of the love and mercy of God, who in Jesus seeks the lost and pours out his love for them, is because he knows what he did to hurt Jesus and yet he knows he is forgiven. God uses Paul’s past experience to show others they cannot go outside God’s love for them – he is an example of God’s patient and persistent love. There are, says Paul, no limits to God’s love and mercy – and he is grateful for this.
- What kind of an example to others are you?
- In what ways have you ever changed your mind about someone or something in the spectacular way Paul did about Jesus?