1 Timothy
by Francis Foulkes ©


'The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the foremost of sinners' but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience for an example for those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen' (1:15-17)

Paul has spoken of the grace of Jesus Christ towards him, and the difference that it made to his life. He wants now to make clear that this same grace is offered to all.

a. The purpose of Christ's coming

The simple purpose of Christ's coming was to save sinners (verse 15). He did not come just to teach us, to show the truth of God to us, to be our example. He came to meet our greatest need - for we are all sinners, and our sin has cut us off from fellowship with God, and from the life of God, We are 'dead in trespasses and sins' (Ephesians 2:1, Authorized Version). Jesus came to save us and give us new life. He was born to be our Saviour (Matthew 1:21). He died and rose again to accomplish our salvation. Salvation is our greatest need. This saving from sin was His great work for us. When we look at ourselves as we really are, we see our failures and sins. We know that time after time we have done wrong, and have no excuse for our wrongdoing. We must say, 'God has done so much for me, taught me so much of His love, given me so many opportunities to know and to do what is right; and yet I have sinned so much. I am the chief of sinners.' Yet still He turns and offers His salvation to us. He accepts us as He accepted Peter; all Peter could do was say, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord' (Luke 5:8), but still Jesus accepted him.

b. The purpose of our salvation

We must not stop at verse 15. 'I received mercy for this reason', says Paul in verse 16, God's great gift of salvation is not just for our personal enjoyment of favour and forgiveness from God. Paul says that the chief of sinners is to be the chief of witnesses, He realized this at the very time that he turned to Christ. The Saviour wanted to send him to other nations with His message of salvation (see Acts 9:15; 22:14, 15; 26:16-18). Paul was to show how the living Lord had changed his life by His power and His love. We too have been commanded to show forth the goodness and greatness of Him who has called us 'out of darkness into his marvellous light' (1 Peter 2:9). If we do this, we can be the means whereby others find this same salvation in Jesus Christ, coming to know Him in whom is eternal life (John 17:3). James 5:19, 20 says: 'If any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.'

c. To Him be the glory

He not only wants us to share His blessings with others. He also wants us to live lives that praise Him in every way. (See Ephesians 1:12.) Often we are tempted to take credit to ourselves for good in our lives, when we should rather say, 'Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to thy name give glory, for the sake of thy steadfast Love and thy faithfulness' (Psalm 115:1). The King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, Lord over all, has stooped to lift me up from my selfishness and sin and self-will. He has made me His child, His ambassador, His fellow worker. To Him 'be honour and glory for ever and ever'.


Praise be to Thee, O Lord God eternal, that Thou hast sent Thy Son to be our Saviour. Praise be to Thee for Thy great long-suffering to us. Praise be to Thee for the privilege of working with Thee in bringing salvation to other. To us is the joy and the blessing. To Thee, the Giver of all, be the glory and praise for ever and ever; and may that glory and praise show forth in our lives. AMEN.

Notes 1. 'The saying is sure' seems to introduce words that were well known among the early Christians, perhaps from a hymn or creed. See also 3:1; 4:9, 2 Timothy 2:11; Titus 3:8.

2. The words 'King of ages' mean that God is King over every age; He is Lord of history.

Further Study. 1. Study other New Testament passages that speak of the purpose of Jesus Christ's coming into the world, and of His death and resurrection. See especially Matthew 1:21; Luke 19:10; John 3:17; l2:47; Galatians 4:4, 5; 1 John 3:8.

2. Look up other passages that speak of the 'patience of God' (e.g. Exodus 34:6, 7; Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9), and passages that speak of the way He wants that patience to be in us (e.g. Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 1:11 and 1 Thessalonians 5:14).