1 Timothy
by Francis Foulkes ©


'I thank him who has given me strength for this, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful by appointing me to his service, though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and insulted bun; but I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly ha unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus' (1:12-14)

As Paul speaks of the gospel entrusted to him (verse 11), he thinks again of his own life, changed and transformed by the gospel, and of how he was made a messenger of that gospel.

a. His need of grace

Before he realized the truth of the gospel, he stood absolutely against it. He 'blasphemed', speaking against God, and tried to make others do the same (see Acts 26:11). He was a persecutor, madly determined to imprison the followers of Jesus, and to crush their faith (Acts 9:1, 2; 22:4; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13). Be 'insulted' Christ - and that word means that out of pride and a sense of superiority he was determined to do all that he could do to harm Christ's cause and Christ's people. He says that he did it 'ignorantly', but he does not say this to try and excuse himself. He was guilty, yet not as one who has seen the truth clearly and still opposes it, or one who has seen the light and prefers to go back into the darkness. Paul is not ashamed to speak of his past because he wants to give praise for what he has become; not praise to himself, but to Christ.

b. The gift of grace

In three ways Paul had known the grace of God over-flowing into his life; and he loved to speak of the abounding or overflowing of God's grace (Romans 5:l5, 17, 20; 2 Corinthians 4:15; 9:8; Ephesians 1:5-8). 1. God appointed the persecutor to His service, to the work of an ambassador for Christ. 2. God gave His strength to enable Paul to do the work to which God called him (compare Ephesians 3: 7). 2. God accepted him. He counted him faithful, not for what he was, but for what he might become. Without God's grace, we also have nothing and are nothing. Through the love and mercy of Christ we are brought near to God; we are called to His service and can do His work in the sure knowledge, 'I can do all things in him who strengthens me' (Philippians 4:13).

c. The result of grace

Finally, God's grace is at work in us for two purposes. There are two results that He wants to achieve. We find these purposes in the words 'faith' and 'love' in verse 14. We can say that the whole Christian life is 'faith working through love' (Galatians 5:6). In His grace He wants us to have a growing faith in Him. In His grace He also wants us to live in love, and to increase and abound in love. Faith and love replaced unbelief and hatred in Paul's life. faith and love can transform our lives also.


Lord God, work freely through Thy grace in my life, today. Make me strong in faith and full of love for Thee, and for all Thy people to whom Thou dost send me, in the name of Jesus Christ my Saviour. AMEN.

Further Study. Study what Paul says about the working of God's grace in his life in 1 Corinthians 15:9, 10; Galatians 1:13-16 and Ephesians 3:7-9.