Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Oct 16 2013 - 1 Timothy 1:1-20 – Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners

Saul the Pharisee had spent his life devoted to exact and exacting law keeping. He looked for God to come and save his people Israel; he looked for God to come and rescue them from the hand of foreign occupation and for him to re-establish his kingly reign in Israel. The Pharisees reasoned that if the kingdom had been lost through disobedience, surely, if Israel would only be obedient to God's covenant demands he would return to save and bless them. A later tradition asserted that if every Israelite would only keep the Sabbath perfectly on one Sabbath, then the Messiah would come.

But Saul's encounter with the risen Lord Jesus on the Damascus road changed everything – including his name. Paul now knew that Jesus, the man crucified at the hands of the Romans, had been owned by God to be the Christ, for God had raised him from the dead – he is the Lord Jesus Christ. And he knew that, far from his law keeping making him obedient to God, he had been the greatest of sinners for he had opposed the work of God, blasphemed the name of God's Christ and had persecuted the people of God. His whole world had been turned upside down.

But he had also discovered another revolutionary truth. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). Through his encounter with the risen Christ, Paul discovered through personal experience the truth which Jesus had spoken to Pharisees during his earthly ministry, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:31-32).

For Paul, this discovery was more than personal experience; it was a call to mission. If God could save him, the worst of sinners, he can save anyone. Paul was commissioned by the risen Christ to preach this good news to all who would listen. And along with his message, he stands as living proof of the grace of God; a demonstration of the power of God to save (1:16).

The world is full of slick salesmen trying to sell the latest gizmo. Words can be cheap, and claims often prove empty. But there is no denying the testimony of a transformed life; it is powerful and incontrovertible (remember Acts 4:16).

And so Paul travelled around the Mediterranean world with this message: God is now establishing his kingdom in the world through Jesus the Christ, God’s anointed king. And not only did he preach this message, he devoted time to training up others to help with the work of making Christ known. Timothy is one such helper whom Paul had trained. He has been left to minister to the church at Ephesus and Paul instructs him to encourage the church to focus upon Christ and the wonderful salvation that is found in him rather than being distracted through endless foolish controversies.

Paul’s concern for the churches, for the work of the gospel and for the glory of Christ is summed up in the benediction of 1:17: "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen"

Yes Lord, we add our “Amen” to that of the apostle Paul. We thank you that your salvation has touched our lives and that you have brought us out of darkness into the kingdom of your dear Son. We want all the world to know that Jesus Christ is Lord and to enjoy the freedom of living under his reign of grace. Help us to declare his praises not only as we speak about him but also through the power of lives transformed by your Spirit and lived to the glory of your name.

Peter Misselbrook