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 MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 timothy 1:15-17

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 29, 2015

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief summary analysis of 1 Tim 1, followed by his comments on verses 15-17. Text in purple represents his paraphrase of the Scripture he is commenting on.


In this chapter, the Apostle, after the usual Apostolical salutation (1 Tim 1:1-2), renews  instructions which he gave Timothy, on leaving Ephesus (1 Tim 1:3), to denounce certain false teachers, who had altogether mistaken the aim and object of the law, of which they constituted themselves the expounders (1 Tim 1:4-7). He guards against the calumny, with which he was often charged, of being the enemy of the law itself (1 Tim 1:8), and points out the end for which the law was given (1 Tim 1:9-11) He gives thanks to God for having called him to the sacred ministry, notwithstanding his unworthiness (1 Tim 1:12-17) And, finally, he recommends Timothy to attend to the precepts contained in the entire chapter (1 Tim 1:18-20).

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

It is a certain, undoubted truth, and worthy to be received with all thankfulness and gratitude, that Christ Jesus came into this world for the purpose of saving sinners, of whom I am the greatest and most unworthy.

He says, this mercy shown himself, should inspire all other sinners with hope, and hence he announces a general and important proposition on the subject. “Of whom I am the chief.” This he might say, looking to himself, and abstracting from the sins of others—or, by looking to his own nature without grace, there was no sin ever committed, that he too might not commit, if left to himself.—(See Philip. 2:3).

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

But it was on account of this very excessive unworthiness and sinfulness, that Christ Jesus showed mercy to me, selecting me as a great object of mercy, for the purpose of displaying in me, the most unworthy of sinners, his great patience and compassion, and with a view of making me serve as a great exemplar and model for all future penitents who are to believe in him, and by this means, expect eternal life.

“For the information of them that shall believe,” &c. The Greek for “information,” ὑποτυπωσιν, means, to serve as a type or model, so that, after his example, all future sinners who are to believe in God, would have recourse to the divine clemency, and learn to hope in God, and thus gain eternal life. As a physician, for the purpose of rousing the drooping and desponding spirits of his patient, points to some instance of recovery from a similar and almost incurable disease; so, had God placed St. Paul, whose blindness and obstinacy were apparently incurable, as a model, an example to animate other sinners to hope for forgiveness in the depth of their miseries and sins.

1 Tim 1:17 Now to the king of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

For this, may eternal honour and glory be rendered to the one only true God, the immortal and invisible King of ages.

God is by nature “immortal,” and incorruptible, and “invisible,” he cannot be seen by the aids of nature,—even in the life to come the saints require the lumen gloriæ to see him as he is, “face to face.”—(See 1 Cor. 13:12). “Only God.” In Greek, only wise God. The epithet, wise, is, however, wanting in the oldest manuscripts and versions, and generally rejected by critics.


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