Online Bible Commentary
The Minister’s Prayer
1 Timothy 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry,13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. 16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (NKJV)
The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to Timothy shortly before his martyrdom, which occurred about 67-68 A.D. The People’s Chronology dates Paul’s death as, possibly, June 29, 67.
Paul was beheaded by Nero, who died of suicide on June 9, 68 at age 30. We believe Paul’s death was sometime between these two dates.
The place of writing is also unclear. We know that Paul was released from house arrest in Rome about mid 62.
Rome burned on July 18, 64 and Nero cracked down on Christians shortly thereafter. So, Paul was likely imprisoned the second half of 64.
This letter was likely written between his release from house arrest in mid 62 and his imprisonment the second half of 64. During this period, we are unsure of Paul’s whereabouts.
If Paul traveled to Spain after his release, he likely wrote this letter from there. If, on the other hand, he travelled east, as indicated by Scripture, he likely wrote this letter from Philippi.
Beginning with this letter Paul’s writing style began to change. This can be attributed to the change in the amanuensis, the scribe, from Timothy to Luke.
Timothy is believed to be the amanuensis for the Prison Epistles. After Paul’s release from house arrest, Timothy was dispatched to Ephesus to combat false teaching.
It is believed that Luke then ended his writing of the Book of Acts and became Paul’s amanuensis. The Book of Acts ends with Paul’s release from house arrest. The Pastoral Epistles (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) and the book of Hebrews became more and more classical in their style as Luke’s contribution became greater.
In this passage, the Apostle Paul offers up a prayer to the Lord. All prayers should be directed to God. It is not the time for a “sermon” to people who may also be listening.
Paul writes “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry” (v. 12). He is thanking Christ Jesus for strength, for considering him faithful and for appointing him to serve Him.
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.
Second, Paul thanks the Lord for considering him faithful (v, 12b). His faithfulness had been exhibited throughout his years of ministry, despite terrible persecution.
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.
Next, Paul writes “although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.” (v. 13). 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 (13a). Not only that, he persecuted Christians, through both verbal and physical abuse, which turned violent (v.13b).
But the Lord had mercy upon Paul (v.13c), because 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.“
The word “ignorant” just means he was uninformed. As Christians, it is up to us to inform unbelievers of the Gospel.
Paul continues “And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (v. 14). 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 (v. 14b). This would enable him to accept his assignment.
Paul writes “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (v. 15). Paul 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).
Next, Paul writes “However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (v. 16). Even as the worst of all sinners, Paul received God’s “mercy” (v. 16a). There is hope for all of us.
Because he was the sinner of all sinners, the Lord made him “a pattern” for all others to follow (v. 16b). If Paul could be used by God, anyone could be used by God.
Paul concludes his prayer with “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (v. 17). Paul ended his prayer offering praise to the Lord.