1 Timothy 1:12-13
12. And I thank Christ Jesus our me Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry,
12. Et gratiam habeo, qui me potentum reddidit, Christo Iesu Domino nostro, quod fidelem me judicavit, ponendo in ministerium,
13. Who was before a blasphemer and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
13. Qui pruis eram blasphemus et persequutor, et violentus, sed et misericordiam adeptus sum, quod ignorans feci in incredulitate.
"a chosen vessel to him." (Acts 9:15.)
But in this manner Paul seems to say that faithfulness, by which he had been previously distinguished, was the cause of his calling. If it were so, the thanksgiving would be hypocritical and contradictory; for he would owe his apostleship not only to God, but to his own merit. I deny, therefore, that the meaning is, that he was admitted to the rank of an apostle, because God had foreseen his faith; for Christ could not foresee in him anything good but what the Father had bestowed on him. Still, therefore, it continues to be true,
"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you."
On the contrary, he draws from it a proof of his fidelity, that Christ had made him an Apostle; for he declares that they whom Christ makes Apostles must be held to be pronounced faithful by his decrees.
In a word, this judicial act is not traced by him to foreknowledge, but rather denotes the testimony which is given to men; as if he had said, "I give thanks to Christ, who, by calling me into the ministry, has openly declared that he approves of my faithfulness." 3
But he appears to insinuate that there is no room for pardon, unless when ignorance can be pleaded in excuse. What then? Will God never pardon any one who has sinned knowingly? I reply, we must observe the word
And hence may be obtained a definition of the sin against the Holy Ghost; first, that it is open rebellion against God in the transgression of the first table; secondly, that it is a malicious rejection of the truth; for, when the truth of God is not rejected through deliberate malice, the Holy Spirit is not resisted. Lastly,
Accordingly, they are mistaken who make the sin against the Holy Ghost to consist in the transgression of the second table; and they are also mistaken, who pronounce blind and thoughtless violence to be a crime so heinous. For men commit the sin against the Holy Spirit, when they undertake a voluntary war against God in order to extinguish that light of the Spirit which has been offered to them. This is shocking wickedness and monstrous hardihood. Nor is there room for doubting that, by an implied threatening, he intended to terrify all who had been once enlightened, not to stumble against truth which they knew; because such a fall is destructive and fatal; for if, on account of ignorance, God forgave Paul his blasphemies, they who knowingly and intentionally blaspheme ought not to expect any pardon.
But it may be thought that what he now says is to no purpose; for unbelief, which is always blind, can never be unaccompanied by ignorance. I reply, among unbelievers some are so blind that they are deceived by a false imagination of the truth; and in others, while they are blinded, yet malice prevails. Paul was not altogether free from a wicked disposition; but he was hurried along by the thoughtless zeal, so as to think that what he did was right. Thus he was an adversary of Christ, not from deliberate intention, but through mistake and ignorance. The Pharisees, who through a bad conscience slandered Christ, were not entirely free from mistake and ignorance; but they were instigated by ambition, and base hatred of sound doctrine, and even by furious rebellion against God, so that maliciously and intentionally, and not in ignorance, they set themselves in opposition to Christ. 6
1 "Mais de se demettre de toute gloire, et recognoistre a bon eseient son iudignite" "But to part with all glory, and to acknowledge sincerely his own unworthiness."
2 "Christ ne fait pas comme les hommes, lesquels par ambition mettent des yens en un estat, sans regarder quay et commet" "Christ does not act like men, who, through ambition, put persons into an office, without considering what or how."
3 "Here is Paul, who was slandered by many people, as we see that there are always dogs that bark against God's servants, aiming at nothing but to bring them into contempt, or rather to make their doctrine be despised and abhorred. Wishing to shut the mouths of such people, Paul says that he is satisfied with having the authority and warrant of Christ. As if he had said, 'Men may reject me, but it is enough that I am declared to be faithful by him who has all authority in himself, and who, being the heavenly Judge, hath pronounced it. When he put me into that office, he declared that he reckoned me to be his servant, and that he intended to employ me in preaching his gospel. That is enough for me. Let men contrive and calumniate as much as they may, provided that I have Christ on my side, let men jeer at me, it will be of no avail; For the decision pronounced by the Lord Jesus Christ can never be recalled.' Thus we see what was Paul's intention, namely, that he does not here mean that Christ foresaw in him anything as the reason why he called him to so honorable an office, but only that, by putting him into it, he declared and made it evident to men, that he intended to make use of him." -- Fr. Ser.
4 "Par incredulite, ou, n'ayant point la foy." "Through unbelief, or not having faith."
5 "En la definition du peche contre le S. Esprit, Incredulite est le terme general; et le Propos malicieux, qui est le contraire d'ignoranee, est comme ce que les Dialecticiens appellent la difference, qui restraint ce qui estoit genera!." "In the definition of the sin against the Holy Spirit, Unbelief is the general term, and malicious intention, which is the opposite of ignorance, may be regarded as that which logicians call the difference, which limits what was general."
6 It may deserve consideration whether a large portion of this able argument might not have been avoided, by means of a different collocation of the passage. "Who was formerly a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and an oppressor, (for I did it ignorantly in unbelief,) but l obtained mercy, and tlhe grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus." -- Ed.