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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL TO TIMOTHY - Chapter 1 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Who was before a blasphemer. This does not mean that Paul before his conversion was what would now be regarded as an open blasphemer—that he was one who abused and reviled sacred things, or one who was in the habit of profane swearing. His character appears to have been just the reverse of this, for he was remarkable for treating what he regarded as sacred with the utmost respect. See Barnes "Php 3:4-6".

The meaning is, that he had reviled the name of Christ, and opposed him and his cause—not believing that he was the Messiah; and in thus opposing he had really been guilty of blasphemy. The true Messiah he had in fact treated with contempt and reproaches; and he now looked back upon that fact with the deepest mortification, and with wonder that one who had been so treated by him should have been willing to put him into the ministry. On the meaning of the word blaspheme, See Barnes "Mt 9:3".

Compare See Barnes "Ac 26:11".

In his conduct here referred to, Paul elsewhere says, that he thought at the time that he was doing what he ought to do, Ac 26:9; here he says that he now regarded it as blasphemy. Learn hence that men may have very different views of their conduct when they come to look at it in subsequent life. What they now regard as harmless, or even as right and proper, may hereafter overwhelm them with shame and remorse. The sinner will yet feel the deepest self-reproaches for that which now gives us no uneasiness.

And a persecutor. Ac 9:1; Ac 22:4; 26:11; 1 Co 15:9; Ga 1:13,23.

 

And injurious. The word here used, (ubristhv,) occurs only in one other place in the New Testament, Ro 1:30, where it is tendered despiteful. The word injurious does not quite express its force. It does not mean merely doing injury, but refers rather to the manner or spirit in which it is done. It is a word of intenser signification than either the word "blasphemer," or "persecutor," and means that what he did was done with a proud, haughty, insolent spirit. There was wicked and malicious violence, an arrogance and spirit of tyranny in what he did, which greatly aggravated the wrong that was done. Comp. the Greek in Mt 22:6; Lu 11:45; 18:32; Ac 14:5; 1 Th 2:2; 2 Co 12:10, for illustrations of the meaning of the word. Tindal and Coverdale render it here "tyrant."

But I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. Comp. See Barnes "Lu 23:34".

The ignorance and unbelief of Paul were not such excuses for what he did that they would wholly free him from blame, nor did he regard them as such—for what he did was with a violent and wicked spirit—but they were mitigating circumstances. They served to modify his guilt, and were among the reasons why God had mercy on him. What is said here, therefore, accords with what the Saviour said in his prayer for his murderers: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." It is undoubtedly true that persons who sin ignorantly, and who regard themselves as right in what they do, are much more likely to obtain mercy than those who do wrong designedly.

{a} "a blasphemer" Ac 8:3; 1 Co 15:9 {b} "ignorantly" Lu 23:34

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