“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:12–17, ESV)
Paul expresses his gratitude for Jesus judging him faithful and appointing him to his service. Paul recognized that it was only the grace of God at work in him that gave him strength. Paul knew the law, and he understood that he had fallen woefully short of God's righteous demands. He begins to acknowledge his failures. If there is any question that Paul was boasting about his service for the Lord, he dispels it by setting forth some of his shortcomings. Paul says that he was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent. Paul was a former terrorist that led a campaign of hatred and violence toward Christians. He put them in prison and agreed to their execution. Paul explains that he acted ignorantly and in unbelief. Paul is not offering excuses; he is saying that he was completely ignorant of the truth because of his unbelief. Paul was a Christian and an apostle because of God’s mercy and grace. Mercy and grace overflowed to Paul with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
These truths lead Paul to issue the first five trustworthy sayings found in this letter. The apostle drew attention to a fundamental truth which God has revealed. Jesus came to rescue sinners and Paul viewed himself as the preeminent sinner. This statement was issued in contrast to the false teachers who were proud and self-righteous. Paul was conscious that he was a sinner who had been rescued by God’s unmerited favor. In spite of his past, Paul was able to rejoice that his life was an example of God’s perfect patience so that unbelievers might see the evidence of saving grace that comes only through Jesus Christ. Paul ends these verses with a doxology to the King of the ages and the God deserving of honor and glory forever.