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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL TO TIMOTHY - Chapter 1 - Verse 15

Verse 15. This is a faithful saying. Gr., "Faithful is the word," or doctrine— o logov. This verse has somewhat the character of a parenthesis, and seems to have been thrown into the midst of the narrative because the mind of the apostle was full of the subject. He had said that he, a great sinner, had obtained mercy. This naturally led him to think of the purpose for which Christ came into the world—to save sinners—and to think how strikingly that truth had been illustrated in his own case, and how that case had shown that it was worthy the attention of all. The word rendered "saying," means, in this place, doctrine, position, or declaration. The word "faithful," means assuredly true; it was that which might be depended on, or on which reliance might be placed. The meaning is, that the doctrine that Christ came to save sinners might be depended on as certainly true. Comp. 2 Ti 2:11; Tit 3:8.

And worthy of all acceptation. Worthy to be embraced or believed by all. This is so because

(1.) all are sinners and need a Saviour. All, therefore, ought to welcome a doctrine which shows them how they may be saved.

(2.) Because Christ died for all.

If he had died for only a part of the race, and could save only a part, it could not be said, with any propriety, that the doctrine was worthy of the acceptance of "all". If that were so, what had it to do with all? How could all be interested in it, or benefited by it? If medicine had been provided for only a part of the patients in a hospital, it could not be said that the announcement of such a fact was worthy the attention of all. It would be highly worthy the attention of those for whom it was designed, but there would be a part who would have nothing to do with it; and why should they concern themselves about it? But if it were provided for each one, then each one would have the highest interest in it. So, if salvation has been provided for me, it is a matter claiming my profoundest attention; and the same is true of every human being. If not provided for me, I have nothing to do with it. It does not concern me at all.

(3.) The manner in which the provision of salvation has been made in the gospel is such as to make it worthy of universal acceptation. It provides for the complete pardon of sin, and the restoration of the soul to God. This is done in a way that is honourable to God—maintaining his law and his justice; and, at the same time, it is in a way that is honourable to man. He is treated afterwards as a friend of God and an heir of life. He is raised up from his degradation, and restored to the favour of his Maker. If man were himself to suggest a way of salvation, he could think of none that would be more honourable to God and to himself; none that would do so much to maintain the law, and to elevate him from all that now degrades him. What higher honour can be conferred on man than to have his salvation sought as an object of intense and earnest desire by one so great and glorious as the Son of God?

(4.) It is worthy of all acceptance, from the nature of the salvation itself. Heaven is offered, with all its everlasting glories, through the blood of Christ—and is not this worthy of universal acceptation? Men would accept of a coronet or crown; a splendid mansion, or a rich estate; a present of jewels and gold, if freely tendered to them; but what trifles are these compared with heaven! If there is anything that is worthy of universal acceptation, it is heaven, for all will be miserable unless they enter there.

That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. The great and peculiar doctrine of the gospel. He "came into the world." He, therefore, had a previous existence. He came. He had, therefore, an object in coming. It makes his gospel more worthy of acceptation, that he had an intention, a plan, a wish, in thus coming into the world. He "came" when he was under no necessity of coming; he came to save, not to destroy; to reveal mercy, not to denounce judgment; to save sinners—the poor, the lost, the wandering, not to condemn them; he came to restore them to the favour of God, to raise them up from their degradation, and to bring them to heaven.

Of whom I am chief. Gr., first. The word is used to denote eminence, and it means that he occupied the first rank among sinners. There were none who surpassed him. This does not mean that he had been the greatest of sinners in all respects, but that in some respects he had been so great a sinner, that, on the whole, there were none who had surpassed him. That to which he particularly refers was doubtless the part which he had taken in putting the saints to death; but in connexion with this, he felt, undoubtedly, that he had by nature a heart eminently prone to sin. See Ro 7. Except in the matter of persecuting the saints, the youthful Saul of Tarsus appears to have been eminently moral, and his outward conduct was framed in accordance with the strictest rules of the law, Php 3:6; Ac 26:4,6.

After his conversion, he never attempted to extenuate his conduct, or excuse himself. He was always ready, in all circles, and in all places, to admit, to its fullest extent, the fact that he was a sinner. So deeply convinced was he of the truth of this, that he bore about with him the constant impression that he was eminently unworthy; and hence he does not say merely that he had been a sinner of most aggravated character, but he speaks of it as something that always pertained to him—" of whom I am chief." We may remark

(1.) that a true Christian will always be ready to admit that his past life has been evil;

(2.) that this will become the abiding and steady conviction of the soul; and

(3.) that an acknowledgment that we are sinners is not inconsistent with evidence of piety, and with high attainments in it. The most eminent Christian has the deepest sense of the depravity of his own heart, and of the evil of his past life.

{c} "faithful saying" 2 Ti 2:11; Tit 3:8 {d} "came into the world" Mt 9:13; Lu 19:10

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