The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Timothy 1:15-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 29, 2015

To help provide context this post opens with Fr. Callan’s summary of 1 Tim 1:1-20 followed by his comments on verses 15-17.

A Summary of 1 Timothy 1:1-20

St. Paul left Timothy in charge of affairs in the Church of Ephesus as he himself made a journey into Macedonia. Timothy was young, delicate in health, and naturally timid; and there was reason for apprehension as to how he might get on with the false teachers at Ephesus, if St. Paul was long delayed in returning to him. The Apostle, therefore, decided to send a letter to him. In the opening section he first greets his beloved son (1 Tim 1:1-2); then repeats the warning against false teachers he had given before leaving
him (1 Tim 1:3-11), citing his own conversion on the road to Damascus as an instance of the power of the Gospel to assist Timothy in his work and to correct the erring teachers (1 Tim 1:12-17); and terminates by reminding the youthful bishop of the charge that has been committed to him as a true teacher of the doctrines of Christ (1 Tim 1:18-20).

1 Tim 1:15. Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief.

Faithful is the saying, i.e,, worthy of all belief. This is a formula peculiar to the Pastorals; it is found elsewhere in these letters in 1 Tim 3:1 and 1 Tim 4:9 below, in 2 Tim 2:11, and in Titus 3:8, It is used to introduce a truth of great importance.

And worthy of all acceptation, i,e, worthy to be accepted by everyone. The Greek for this expression is found again in the Bible only in 1 Tim 4:9 below.

That Christ Jesus came, etc. This is the great truth the Apostle
would teach, and it shows that the primary purpose of our Lord’s
coming to the earth in the Incarnation was to save sinners.

Of whom I am the chief, a characteristic expression of St. Paul (cf. 1 Cor 15:99; Eph. 3:8), and not so much hyperbolical as expressive of a vivid appreciation of the degradation of sin, on the one hand, and the awful holiness of God and the preciousness of grace, on the other hand; and the Apostle is not speaking in the
past but in the present tense. It is only the great Saints who can
rightly apprehend sin and appreciate grace.

1 Tim 1:16. But for this cause have I obtained mercy: that in me as first Christ Jesus might shew forth all patience, for an example to them that shall believe in him unto life everlasting.

The Apostle explains why God has shown him so great mercy in spite of his sins, namely, that he might be an example or illustration to others of the “patience,” i.e., the longsuffering and gracious mercy of Christ in bearing with all poor sinners who “believe in Him,” the consequence of whose faith in Christ Jesus will be “life everlasting.”

In me as first, i.e., as chief of sinners (ver. 15).

An example. Literally, “an outline sketch.” The Greek word is found only here and in 2 Tim. 1:13 in the whole Bible.


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