7/03/11 1 Timothy 1:12-17
Leader: Pastor Biebert
Meeting Time: 8:00 AM & 10:15 AM
IT’S NOT JUST HOW YOU START
1 Timothy 1:12-17
In those days there were no seminaries or schools for pastors. You learned, as Timothy did, from a trusted mentor. Now Timothy pastors the Ephesus group, one that had problems. Paul uses this letter to teach how to keep fit physically and spiritually – and how to survive as a leader among Christians. When he mentioned “the Gospel of the glory of the blessed God” (1:11, literal translation), it reminded Paul of his first-hand experience. He was “Exhibit A” for God’s unbelievable patience. God’s grace really works.
What does “faithful” mean (1:12)?
Paul used his own example a lot (see Acts 9:1–2; 22:4-5; 26:9–11; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13-16; Philippians 3:4-6). Paul, by his own admission, used to be a bully who loved to throw his weight around. He’s not exaggerating. You can begin to see how impressive God’s love is. It gives everyone the opposite of what we deserve.
How could God give Paul a “faithful” record when he’s a self-admitted abuser (1:13)?
How could the holy God ever forgive and salvage such a self-righteous sinner? The key words are “mercy” and “grace.” God in His mercy did not give Paul what he deserves. God paid an awful price to rescue hopeless, deluded sinners.
Is ignorance an excuse for mercy (1:13)?
Jesus prayed from the cross, “Father, forgive them, because they don’t know what they’re doing” (Luke 23:34). Their ignorance didn’t save them. Jesus’ prayer and sacrifice did. Literally, in Greek, Paul said it took a “super” amount of God’s grace to reach him. We talk of “hyperactive” children and “hyper-sensitive” people. Paul uses the same “hyper” here to describe the effort God need to exert in his case.
How would you define God’s grace for a newbie, and why did Paul need it “abundantly” (1:14)?
Why did Paul call this a “trustworthy saying” (1:15)?
Notice that Paul didn’t say He was “the worst” sinner. He says he “is the worst.”
How can he repeatedly say he is the worst sinner(1:15-16)?
Paul’s lifestyle change was so dramatic that the Christians in Jerusalem suspected that it was all an act. They had a hard time accepting him (Acts 9:26–31). Paul is proof that God’s grace can change any sinner.
What does Paul teach about the Lord in this section? Note the nouns, verbs, and adjectives.
How might what Paul explains in this section keep Timothy on the right course?
Whether we realize it or not, we all need what Jesus has to offer. None of us is perfect, of course, this side of heaven. God helps us chime in with Paul when he outs himself as a loser. Good news is more appetizing when we’re in the depths. Then God’s love will touch our hearts and lives.
1. A psychologist analyzing Paul’s words might conclude Paul suffered from poor self-esteem. Why would that be inaccurate?
2. Billy Joel sings about depression in his song “Only Human.” He urges suffering people to hold on until they “get their second wind.” He tells them, “You’re only human. You’re supposed to make mistakes.” What’s a more Christian way to help people deal with the consequences of their sins?
3. How can a Christian’s sinful past be of benefit in the future?
4. How does this section connect to Matthew 9:9-13? What’s the connection to Exodus 3:1-15?