1 Timothy 1:12–14

“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” (vv. 13–14).

One of the cardinal doctrines of biblical Christianity is the truth that God has revealed the good news of His salvation in His Word. It cannot be discovered through nature; rather, our Father delivered the faith “once for all” to the saints (Jude 3). Surely Paul is well aware of this reality, describing the message of salvation as news God entrusted to him (1 Tim. 1:11). Consequently, the gospel is not something we are free to alter as we see fit but a charge that we receive from the Lord through the preaching of His Word, a charge that we keep only when we pass the gospel on to others unchanged (vv. 18–19; 2 Tim. 1:14).

Paul’s reference to the gospel as that with which he has been entrusted moves him in today’s passage to relate the circumstances surrounding God’s calling of him to preach the good news (1 Tim. 1:12–14). The apostle does not whitewash his life before meeting Jesus but is upfront about his persecution of the church, even declaring himself a blasphemer during the period he was “ravaging the church” and dragging believers from their houses to prison (Acts 8:3). His startlingly frank confession supports that Paul did indeed write 1 Timothy, for surely a person trying to promulgate his own views in the name of the apostle would leave out embarrassing facts that could malign Paul’s character, potentially hurting his case. Yet Paul himself is never afraid to highlight the contrast between his life before and after Christ appeared to him. The apostle is always concerned to magnify the Lord’s grace, and there is perhaps no better way to do so than to show how God in His good pleasure took the worst of sinners, one who thought he was doing a divine work even as he waged war against the Almighty’s plan, and made him the chief advocate of the message he once sought to snuff out.

Such is the nature of God’s “hyper-plentiful” grace, which is another way to translate the Greek verb _hyperpleonaz_ō, rendered as “overflowed” in the ESV (v. 14). Our Father’s grace is not merely sufficient or even plentiful — it is overly plentiful. When our Creator, who abounds in steadfast love (Ex. 34:6–7), decides to set His favor on even the most heinous sinner, there is nothing that can keep Him from turning that sinner into an effective saint.

Coram Deo

How often do we take the time to meditate upon and exalt the hyper-plentiful grace of our Lord? Because of His absolute perfection, God’s grace is by definition hyper-plentiful when He condescends to redeem imperfect people. Consider today some of the ways the grace of God has been evident in your life both in your conversion and in subsequent periods when you have been forgiven your sin. Take time to magnify our Father today for His mercy.

For Further Study