The Apostle Paul The Chief Sinner Or our “Chief?”

1Ti 1:11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.
1Ti 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
1Ti 1:13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
1Ti 1:14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
1Ti 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
1Ti 1:16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

In 1Timothy 1:15 Paul says “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief”, the first part of the verse pertaining to the fact that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners should be clearly understood, but it is the next part of the verse that is oftentimes misunderstood concerning what Paul is saying. When this verse is taught, Paul is called the chief of sinners, some will say that Paul is making reference to himself at the time when he persecuted the church, but this is not what Paul is saying at all. Paul is making known his apostleship and his authority as being our “chief”.

Act 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
Act 13:47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.

Paul was put into the ministry and counted “faithful” to preach the gospel of our salvation to the whole world, Paul says in 1Timothy 1:11 that the gospel of salvation to the world was committed to his “trust”, we have to keep in mind that in verse 13 Paul explains what he “was” in times past, then in verse 15 when Paul is gives account to Jesus Christ dying for sinners Paul says “I am chief”, at the time that Paul wrote 1Timothy he was not the chief sinner.

Act 26:10 Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
Act 26:11 And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
Act 26:12 Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests,

Even at the time Paul persecuted the church he was not the chief sinner, he was given “authority” to wreak havoc against the church of God, and we can see all the blasphemous things that Paul did to the saints and against the church, but the real movers and shakers in the persecution of the church of God was the “chief priests”. The “chief” priests formulated the plan to put an end to the name of Jesus Christ, and anyone who stood for the gospel in truth, and just like when Jesus Christ walked the earth, God judged Israel by the actions of their “chief priests”. Because these men spoke for the unbelieving remnant, what they said and done had an effect on the nation as a whole.

1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
1Ti 2:6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
1Ti 2:7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

Once again Paul proclaims his authority when mentioning Jesus Christ giving Himself as “a ransom for all”, and the salvation that there is in that, Paul says that it is his job to be our preacher, teacher, and apostle. And at the time Saul was persecuting the Church, there were others who had “authority,” over Saul’s actions against the Church, and who were actually viewed as “Chief.”

Col 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
Col 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
Col 1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
Col 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

Paul says that he was made a minister to preach to “every creature under heaven”, and again he is saying this when proclaiming the good news about Jesus Christ. Paul was entrusted with the position to be apostle and “chief” in this dispensation of gentile grace. When Paul says in 1Timothy 1:15 “this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation”, Paul is saying that you can’t afford to miss the issue of the gospel that he preaches concerning Jesus Christ, and his unique apostleship as being our “chief”.

Rod Jones

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