Of Whom I Am Chief
Paul summarizes his personal experience of the gospel.
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.
a. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance: This unusual phrase introduces a statement of special importance. Paul used this phrase 5 times - all in the Pastoral Epistles.
b. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners: Jesus came to save sinners, not those living under the illusion of their own righteousness. It is the sick who need a physician (Mar_2:17).
i. Since Jesus came into the world to save sinners, this is the first necessary qualification for being a child of God - being a sinner. Sinners are not disqualified from coming to God, because Jesus came to save them.
ii. We also see the great danger in taking the terms sin and sinner out of our vocabulary. Many preachers deliberately do this today, because they don’t want to offend anyone from the pulpit. But if Jesus came to save sinners, shouldn’t we identify who those sinners are? How else will they come to salvation?
iii. “Even those who recognize that Christ’s work is to save admit that it is more difficult to believe that this salvation belongs to sinners. Our mind is always prone to dwell on our own worthiness and, as soon as our unworthiness becomes apparent, our confidence fails. Thus the more a man feels the burden of his sins, he ought with greater courage to betake himself to Christ, relying on what is here taught, that He came to bring salvation not to the righteous but to sinners.” (Calvin)
b. Of whom I am chief: Paul’s claim to be the chief of sinners was not an expression of some super-pious false humility. He genuinely felt his sins made him more accountable before God than others.
i. Aren’t we all equally sinners? No; “All men are truly sinners, but all men are not equally sinners. They are all in the mire; but they have not all sunk to an equal depth in it.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Paul felt - rightly so - his sins were worse because he was responsible for the death, imprisonment, and suffering of Christians, whom he persecuted before his life was changed by Jesus (Act_8:3; Act_9:1-2, 1Co_15:9, Gal_1:13, Php_3:6).
iii. In Act_26:11, Paul explained to Agrippa what might have been his worst sin: And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities. He compelled others to blaspheme Jesus. “This, indeed, was a very horrible part of Saul’s sinfulness. To destroy their bodies was bad enough, but to destroy their souls too-to compel them to blaspheme, to speak evil of that name which they confessed to be their joy and their hope, surely that was the worst form that even persecution could assume. He forced them under torture to abjure the Christ whom their hearts loved. As it were he was not content to kill them, but he must damn them too.” (Spurgeon)
iv. There are worse kinds of sin; sins that harm God’s people are especially bad in God’s eyes. We must soberly consider if we are guilty, now or in the past, of harming God’s people. “[God] remembers jests and scoffs leveled at his little ones, and he bids those who indulge in them to take heed. You had better offend a king than one of the Lord’s little ones.” (Spurgeon)
v. “Despair’s head is cut off and stuck on a pole by the salvation of ‘the chief of sinners.’ No man can now say that he is too great a sinner to be saved, because the chief of sinners was saved eighteen hundred years ago. If the ringleader, the chief of the gang, has been washed in the precious blood, and is now in heaven, why not I? Why not you?” (Spurgeon) (excerpt from David Guzik)
In closing-along with Paul, I will add my amen.
Paul's Defense Before Agrippa
Act 26:1 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself:
Act 26:2 I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:
Act 26:3 Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.
Act 26:4 My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
Act 26:5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
Act 26:6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
Act 26:7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
Act 26:8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?
Act 26:9 I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.
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,
Act 26:13 At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me.
Act 26:14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Act 26:15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
Act 26:16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;
Act 26:17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
Act 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
Act 26:19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
Act 26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
Act 26:21 For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.
Act 26:22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
Act 26:23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
Act 26:24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
Act 26:25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
Act 26:26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.
Act 26:27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
Act 26:28 Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
Act 26:29 And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.
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The Lord Will Pour Out His Spirit
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.
But this is that which was spoken by the
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: