Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 44
I Timothy 1:1-16 – Part 2
Okay, it’s good to have everybody in again. Once more we’re going to go right back to where we left off in I Timothy chapter 1. We’re going to pick it up in verse 13. Jerry’s got 14 on the board, but we’ll look at verse 13 first.
For those of you joining us on television—in case this is the first program that you’ve caught—we’re just an informal, non-denominational Bible study. I don’t know how many different groups are represented here in the studio, but we don’t pay attention to that. We’re just going to teach the Word and, as I’ve said so often, we just let the chips fall where they may.
I don’t expect everyone to agree with me on every point. We don’t have to. There’s certainly room enough for disagreement as long as we agree on the basic fundamentals of who Christ is and what He’s done and the inerrancy of the Scriptures—all those good things that we will not have any room for compromise. I think I can go right on into the Scripture without any more announcements or anything more to do. I think they are letting the folks know at the end of the program what’s available.
Let’s go right back into I Timothy chapter 1. We’ll start the program with verse 13, where Paul, of course, is still writing to this young man, Timothy, during this time that he’s out of prison. He probably has a year or two until he’s taken back and arrested, whereupon he will be martyred. But as he speaks with regard to the ministry that Christ gave him in verse 12, he goes back and he never forgets the fact he was–
I Timothy 1:13
“…a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: (In other words, to Jewish believers who would embrace Jesus as the Messiah.) but (Flip-side—even though he was the greatest enemy of Christ on the earth at that time–) I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”
Again, remember that the Grace of God was poured out on this man without merit. He had no reason to spare him. God could have just as well zapped him and taken him off the scene. Instead, He decides, or He chose, to use this man to become the Apostle of this Gospel of Grace. Now never lose sight of the fact that Saul of Tarsus was intensely religious. Saul lived and breathed his religion. In the name of his religion he thought nothing to put the adversaries of that religion to death. He hated the name of Jesus of Nazareth, because he thought Jesus was an imposter. Saul thought that Jesus was something that went against Judaism. Consequently, Saul was, as he says here, a persecutor of those Jews who had believed who Jesus was. Now verse 14:
I Timothy 1:14a
“And the grace…” Now no writer of Scripture uses that word as often as the Apostle Paul. Just check me out. Go to a good concordance and you’ll find that Paul uses the word gracealmost more than all the rest of Scripture together. And so he says:
I Timothy 1:14
“And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s go back and take another look in Acts, if you will. Go back to Acts 26. I think we looked at it in our first program this afternoon. But I want you to see the thinking of this man as he was headed to Antioch up in Syria to gather in those Jews who had become believers of Christ’s Messiahship, even though they were living outside of the land of Israel. Now that tells me something. That tells me that the Jewish leadership had enough clout with Rome that Rome would actually extradite these Jewish people whom the Jews wanted to arrest.
They must have, because he could go to a foreign country and, like kidnapping, take people and bring them back. So there must have been an agreement with Rome that they would permit this to take place. But whatever, now he explains it in the first person in Acts 26 and verse 4. And remember, he is speaking to King Agrippa. He has now been arrested by the Jewish authorities who are, of course, trying to get rid of the man. But now he’s rehearsing before King Agrippa his life up through Judaism until he became an Apostle.
“My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation (that is among Israel) at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; 5. Which knew me from the beginning, (in other words, from his family’s beginnings up in Tarsus) if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. 6. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:”
Which was that one day God Himself would come in the person of the Messiah, the Son of God, to be the King of Israel. This was the promise to the fathers. Now verse 7:
“Unto which promise our twelve tribes, (the twelve sons of Jacob) instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.” In other words, Paul is now proclaiming that this One who had been crucified and risen from the dead was the One promised to Abraham and the Old Testament prophets. Now verse 8:
“Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? 9. I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth (Paul is admitting.).” Now verse 10:
“Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: (Now here it comes.) and many of the saints (That is the Jewish believers in that Jesus was the Christ.) did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they (these Jews who were under Saul’s persecution) were put to death, I gave my voice against them.”
Now I know the King James uses the word voice. I don’t know what your other translations have, but the marginal is vote. That implies, of course, that Saul of Tarsus must have been a member of the Sanhedrin. Because they were the ones that voted to put these people in prison or put them to death. So I take from this—and now I’m running into other writers who are taking the same approach—that since he was a member of the Sanhedrin, it was a requirement (just like Paul’s requirement for deacons and pastors) that they had to be a husband and a father.
And, of course, the premise was—how can you deal with things unless you know how to deal with a family situation. So the Sanhedrin was a consortium of husbands and fathers with children, who were more or less the religious governing body of Israel. And he’s the leader of that. And as a member of that, he voted to put those Jewish believers to death.
Now again, stop and think. Who must have permitted all that? Rome! They couldn’t do this without the Roman authorities knowing it. So, I have to feel that the leaders of Israel had enough clout with the Roman government that they could carry out this kind of execution with no opposition. All right, reading on in verse 11.
“And I punished them oft in every synagogue, (He was relentless in persecuting them.) and compelled them to blaspheme; (Now how do you suppose he did that? I think torture. I think he was literally able to torture these people into finally relenting and recanting their faith in Jesus of Nazareth.) and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. (Which, of course, was Damascus.) 12. Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,”
Then he goes on to say how the Lord arrested him there, you might say, at the gates of Damascus and dropped the man to his knees. Whereupon he said what? “Who art thou, Lord? And Jehovah says, I am Jesus…” You know, I always like to make a point of that. Can you imagine how the man must have just melted like butter in a hot sun? When he suddenly realized that the name he hated was the same Jehovah that he worshipped.
Quite a come-off, wasn’t it? And yet, that is what I think drove the Apostle for the next 20 something years. That regardless of how many beatings he took, regardless of the stoning, the shipwreck, the suffering—he never forgot meeting the Lord Jesus face-to-face there on the road to Damascus. It must have been a face-to-face experience for the Apostle. Now then, if you’ll come back to I Timothy chapter 1 verse 14 again.
I Timothy 1:14
“And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.”
Now then, we’re going to look into a part that I feel very few people can comprehend. And again, I don’t expect people to agree with me until they see it with their own eyes. But I think it’s so obvious. Here Paul is going to show that he is the first—the head of the line—of this whole composition of believers from every walk of life, from every racial background that have come in to make up the Body of Christ; which, remember, is only used by Paul. You will never find the term the Body of Christ any place but in Paul’s writings. Never does Peter refer to it. Never did Jesus refer to it. It is a Pauline revelation – the Body of Christ. So I feel, and I don’t condemn people if they don’t agree with me, that Paul must have been at the head of the line. Now let’s look at it. Verse 15:
I Timothy 1:15
“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, (There’s no room for argument.) that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; (That is for sure.) of whom I am chief.”
Now every sermon that I’ve ever heard on this verse, and I imagine everybody else has ever heard, they are pointing out what a wicked sinner Saul of Tarsus was. “And if God could save Saul, He could save anybody.” But the word chief doesn’t mean that. The word chief in Scripture doesn’t mean the worst. It means the first, the head man. Now we’re going to show that from Scripture. Turn with me, if you will, to Luke chapter 22, and we’re going to look at the word chief. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom Paul is thechief. All right, but what’s a chief? Luke chapter 22 and verse 26 and Jesus is speaking.
“But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, (or the head man of your group) as he that doth serve.”
Now, how is the word used? Wicked? Sinful? No. He that is chief, who is the head man of your group, let him condescend to be the least. All I’m showing is that the word chief does not mean sinful or wicked. It means the first. Acts 14 verse 12. Paul and Barnabas are now up in Asia Minor. They have performed a miracle, and these pagans are all shook up. They began to think that these men were gods of some sort or another, and they began to worship them. Now Acts 14:12:
“And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he (Paul) was the chief speaker.”
Does that mean he was the most vile? The most sinful? The most wicked? No. He spoke with the most authority. He was above Barnabas. He was the first of the two. All right, we can go on to the next one, and that would be in Acts 28 verse 7. We’re still showing the same thing, that the word chief in Scripture doesn’t mean sinful or wicked or the worst. It simply means the head man, the beginning of the line. Verse 7 of Acts 28:
“In the same quarters…” Now remember, it was after they’re shipwrecked in Acts 28. They’re on the island of Melita; and a serpent, I think, has just bitten Paul. Now verse 7:
“In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously.”
Now was Publius the most wicked man on the island? No! What was he? Probably the governor, the head man. He was the chief man on the island. Am I making my point? Never does chief mean worst. All right, now one more—Romans chapter 3 verse 2 and, again, Paul is showing the advantage that the nation of Israel had. They had the temple. They had the priesthood. They had the miracles of God. But the most important thing going for Israel was in verse 2. Let’s read verse 1 so we can pick up the flow.
“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? 2. Much every way: (The Jews had so much going for them.) chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” (or the Word of God. You know what the word chiefly means? The number one reason was they had the Word of God.)
All right, now I hope I have established that the word chief doesn’t mean the most sinful, or the most wicked. It merely means the head of the line, the first one of a group. All right, back to I Timothy chapter 1.
I Timothy 1:15b
“…that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; (That is by Grace.) of whom (Paul says) I am chief.” (The head of the line – I’m the first.) Now verse 16:
I Timothy 1:16a
“Howbeit for this cause (So that he could be the first.) I obtained mercy, (grace, and love) that in me (And again, what’s the next word?) first (not second, not hundredth—that in me first) Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering…”
Now stop and think a moment. Was there ever a greater manifestation of the Grace of God than when God saved Saul of Tarsus? Never! Never! He was the most wicked, so far as Christ was concerned, that had ever lived. They didn’t come any worse. Oh, it was in the name of religion. He hated Jesus of Nazareth. He just detested him and was doing everything, even murdering and adherence of it, to stamp it out. All right, he obtained the Grace of God, His unmerited favor that in him first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering—in other words, His patience, His love, and again, His mercy, His Grace. Now the rest of the verse:
I Timothy 1:16b
“…Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern…” What’s a pattern, for goodness sakes? What’s a pattern, ladies? Come on, you all go to a fabric shop, I think, at some time whether you’re young or old. Now what do you do with a pattern? Well, it’s the beginning! It’s the original of whatever you’re going to make.
And if you make three or four or five of them, what are you still going to use? The pattern! You know, I think I gave the illustration a few years ago. I was cutting rafters one day, and I was just a young man. My dad came along and I had rafters cut, you know, all over the place. And he said, “Which one is your pattern?” “Gosh, Dad, I don’t know. I just use whatever one I pick up.” He said, “You’re going to have a roof that’s as sway-backed as an old horse.” Why? Because I was not using the same pattern for every cut. And it’s the same word here. The Apostle Paul is the original!!
A verse just comes to mind. I didn’t intend to use this. Back to I Corinthians, Honey, chapter 4 verse 16. This follows right along with what we’ve been saying. If he is the pattern, then look what it says.
I Corinthians 4:16
“Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of (Who?) me.” Why? He is the pattern! He’s the first.
Turn over to I Corinthians chapter 11 verse 1. This will make people feel a little bit better. Because they come back and say, “I’m not going to follow Paul. I’m going to follow Jesus.” Well, now wait a minute. If you’re going to follow Jesus of the Gospels—I usually put it this way. If you’re going to follow in His footsteps, when you come to the Sea of Galilee He can keep right on going. What are you going to do? Well, you can’t follow. But this man (Paul) I can, because he’s as human as we are. He suffered the same pains and passions that we do. Now look what he says in chapter 11 verse 1.
I Corinthians 11:1
“Be ye followers of me, (Why?) even as I also am of Christ.” You see that? Now that’s so logical. The ascended Lord has given Paul all the instructions for everything we need.
And as he listened to what Christ told him and wrote by inspiration, we can rest assured that we can follow this Apostle. Now back to I Timothy chapter 1 verse 16. We’ve got to go quickly. There’s one more portion of Scripture that I’d like to cover yet before this half hour is over. Verse 16 reading on:
I Timothy 1:16
“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should (What’s the next word?) hereafter…”
Now go back to the rafters. After I had 3 or 4 cut, where should I go back? To the pattern! Not to the 4th or the 5th one. And it’s the same way here. You don’t follow somebody else that came later. We follow the one who is the pattern of the Grace of God. Now then, reading on.
I Timothy 1:16c
“…a pattern to them which should hereafter believe…” He doesn’t say anything about all these other things that came from Peter and Christ in His earthly ministry. Now, it’s a matter of exercising our faith in his (Paul’s) gospel of I Corinthians 15:1-4.
All right, I’ve got one more portion of Scripture that tells us the same thing. I Corinthians chapter 3 and I hope I’ve got enough time. I Corinthians chapter 3 and, oh, if this doesn’t make it so plain. Now remember, he’s the head of the line. He’s the chief man. And we’re to follow. Everybody comes into the Body of Christ, I feel, after the Apostle Paul.
I Corinthians 3:9
“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, (Like a vineyard as Christ used the parable. But Paul also uses another analogy.) ye are God’s building.” We are building a part of that which pertains to the Body of Christ. All right, verse 10:
I Corinthians 3:10
“According to the grace of God which is given unto me (Not because he deserved it—he was the least, but God made him the chief.) as a wise masterbuilder,…”
Now stop. If you were to build a new home, or if you’ve already built one in the past, when do you ask your contractor to come in and take over? When the building is a fourth finished? No. You find your contractor before you even set the stakes. He’s going to set the stakes where your foundation is going to be. Isn’t that right? He’s the masterbuilder. Now according to most of Christendom, Paul comes in when the first floor is finished. Jesus and the Twelve laid the foundation and built the first floor, and now here comes Paul and he adds to it. No, it doesn’t say that. It says that I am the masterbuilder. I am the one who has started from scratch. Now read on:
I Corinthians 3:10b
“I have laid the foundation,…” Jesus didn’t lay it. You know, I appreciated one magazine years back saying that Jesus never started anything. Oh, I couldn’t agree more. But look at the next verse.
I Corinthians 3:11
“For other foundation can no man lay (not Peter, not John, nobody) than that is laid, (And whose the foundation?) which is Jesus Christ.”
That’s the foundation on which Paul’s Gospel rests. That’s the foundation on which our whole eternal destiny rests. And from that foundation our faith can grow, can build. We bring in other believers, and all these believers together are making up what Paul alone calls the Body of Christ.