Online Bible Commentary
The Minister’s Prayer
1 Timothy 1:12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (NIV)
The Apostle Paul offers up a prayer to the Lord, thanking Christ Jesus for strength, for considering Paul faithful and for appointing Paul to serve Him (v.12). This is always the prayer for those in the Lord’s service. This is the minister’s prayer.
It is no wonder that Paul’s first order of thankfulness was for the Lord’s strength (v. 12a). Those in the Lord’s service need His strength because Satan is always doing all he can to pull us out of His service. Satan uses all his efforts to thwart any help for ministers. He uses the apathy of those to whom are being ministered. He convinces them that someone else will give, if they don’t. He convinces them that they should give only to their church. He convinces them that they do not have the funds to give, as if God has not promised to meet all their needs when they are faithful. This ministry is a perfect example. No one has given to this ministry in its six months of existence. Even though the Lord has affirmed over and over again that this minister should continue this ministry, the lack of giving seems to contradict that message. The lack of giving from the faithful few has made it impossible to have the funds to expand this ministry. It seems to be saying that this work is not effective and this minister would better serve God by investing his time and resources in a different area of ministry. It is only by this strength from God that this ministry still exists today.
Second, Paul thanks the Lord for considering him faithful (v. 12b). Paul was the chief oppressor of Christians prior to his conversion. Paul was very “religious”, defending his family religion with every ounce of his being. He blasphemed Christians, for teaching doctrine contrary to that of the established religion, Judaism (v. 13a). Not only that, he persecuted Christians, through both verbal and physical abuse, which turned violent (v.13b). He acted in “ignorance and unbelief” (v. 13d). The literal translation of the Greek for the phrase translated “ignorance and unbelief” is “because being ignorant I did it in unbelief."
But the Lord had mercy upon Paul (v.13c). The Lord could have wiped out Paul for his actions, but instead He chose to shower him with grace (v. 14a). The literal Greek for this abundance of grace is “super-abounded”. This was a super amount of grace that was needed to forgive Paul of his grievous sins towards the Lord. Persecuting Christians is a very serious offense in the eyes of God. Those who partake of such things should be prepared for the consequences of their actions. The Lord may not be merciful upon them, as He was upon Paul. Finally, “faith and love” were also poured out upon Paul, to enable him to accept his assignment (v.14b).
Paul’s third order of thankfulness was for being appointed to the Lord’s service (v.12c). The literal Greek for the phrase translated “to serve him” is “putting me into service”. Ministers do not just decide they will serve the Lord. The Lord calls them, “putting them into service”, because, according to the literal Greek, He “counted me faithful”. Then, the Lord closes every other door, except ministry. It is His choice, not man’s choice. The Lord chooses who he wants to serve Him.
Paul then gives his first of five “trustworthy sayings” (v. 15a); found in the Pastoral Epistles of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. It is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” Paul says that he “is” the worst of these sinners, not that he “was” the worst (v. 15b). Paul remained humble throughout his ministry. Paul was an “example”, better translated a “pattern” (v. 16). Because he was the sinner of all sinners, the Lord made him a pattern for all others to follow. If Paul could be used by God, anyone could be used by God. Paul then ended his prayer offering praise to the Lord (v. 17).