Besides Fr. MacEvilly’s notes on 1:12-17, I’ve included in this post his paraphrasing of the verses he’s commenting on and, also, his brief analysis of chapter 1 of the epistle. The paraphrasing is in purple.
ANALYSIS: In this chapter, the Apostle, after the usual Apostolical salutation, renews (verse 3) the instructions which he gave Timothy, on leaving Ephesus, to denounce certain false teachers, who had altogether mistaken the aim and object of the law, of which they constituted themselves the expounders (5, 6, 7). He guards against this cahnnny, with which he was often charged, of being the enemy of the law itself (8), and points out the end for which the law was given (9, &c.) He gives thanks to Godfor having called him to the sacred ministry, notwithstanding his unworthiness (12, 13, 14, &c.) And, finally, he recommends Timothy to attend to the precepts contained in the entire chapter (18, &c.)
1Ti 1:12 I give him thanks who hath strengthened me, even to Christ Jesus our Lord, for that he hath counted me faithful, putting me in the ministry:
I give thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ, for having strengthened me by his grace for so arduous an undertaking, and for having confided to me so important a ministry, one of the chief requisites of which is, fidelity.
The mention of the gospel ministry entrusted to him, puts the Apostle in mind of his former sins and unworthiness. He renders thanks to God for his special goodness towards him, which his former sinfulness and unworthiness render the more illustrious. “For he that had counted me faithful, putting me in the ministry,” is a phrase signifying, that God called him to his sacred ministry, wherein the chief requisite is fidelity, which must be secured by his own grace. It by no means signifies that God was moved by the provision of fidelity and of the good use of grace in St. Paul, as a motive for calling him to the ministry. This would savour of semi-Pelagianism.
1Ti 1:13 Who before was a blasphemer and a persecutor and contumelious. But I obtained the mercy of God, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
Who, before, had been a blasphemer, and a presecutor, and a contumelious enemy of God. But God took compassion on me, because I acted from ignorance, while I was yet in the darkness of unbelief.
H e recounts his former sinfulness for the purpose of displaying in a stronger light, the infinite goodness of God towards him, and of exciting himself to more intense feelings of gratitude. He was a “blasphemer” by words, a ” persecutor” by his deeds, and he was a “contumelious ” enemy by the unjust violence to which he had resorted. But he “obtained mercy,” because his ignorance was an extenuation of his guilt, and he placed a lesser obstacle to grace, than if he had sinned knowingly, through malice. Others interpret the words, “because I did it ignorantly in unbelief,” thus: because the greatness of my misery and spiritual blindness was such as to render me a fit subject for the exercise of divine mercy; sins of ignorance constitute, above all others, the greatest misery. Of course, the Apostle by no means insinuates that his ignorance and spiritual misery was anything else than the occasional cause of his justification, the mercy of God being the real cause.
1Ti 1:14 Now the grace of our Lord hath abounded exceedingly with faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus.
He not only pardoned me, but the grace of our Lord superabounded in me, so as to overcome my perversity in a signal degree, by conferring on me the fruits of Christian faith and love.
“Hath abounded exceedingly,” i.e., the grace of God far exceeded his iniquity. God not only pardoned him, and showed him mercy, but he also bestowed on him the gifts of his grace and its fruit—”faith,” which was opposed to his former incredulity, and “love,” to his former hatred of Christ.
1Ti 1:15 A faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief.
It is a certain, undoubted truth, and worthy to be received with all thankfulness and gratitude, that Christ Jesus came into this world for the purpose of saving sinners, of whom I am the greatest and most unworthy.
He says, this mercy shown himself, should inspire all other sinners with hope, and hence he announces a general and important proposition on the subject. “Of whom I am the chief.” This he might say, looking to himself, and abstracting from the sins of others—or, by looking to his own nature without grace, there was no sin ever committed, that he too might not commit, if left to himself. (See Phil 2:3).
1Ti 1:16 But for this cause have I obtained mercy: that in me first Christ Jesus might shew forth all patience, for the information of them that shall believe in him unto life everlasting.
But it was on account of this very excessive unworthiness and sinfulness, that Christ Jesus showed mercy to me, selecting me as a great object of mercy, for the purpose of displaying in me, the most unworthy of sinners, his great patience and compassion, and with a view of making me serve as a great exemplar and model for all future penitents who are to believe in him, and by this means, expect eternal life.
“For the information of them that shall believe,” &c. The Greek for “information,” ὑποτύπωσις (hupotupōsis) means, to serve as a type or model, so that, after his example, all future sinners who are to believe in God, would have recourse to the divine clemency, and learn to hope in God, and thus gain eternal life. As a physician, for the purpose of rousing the drooping and desponding spirits of his patient, points to some instance of recovery from a similar and almost incurable disease; so, had God placed St. Paul, whose blindness and obstinacy were apparently incurable, as a model, an example to animate other sinners to hope for forgiveness in the depth of their miseries and sins.
1Ti 1:17 Now to the king of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
For this, may eternal honor and glory be rendered to the one only true God, the immortal and invisible King of ages.
God is by nature “immortal,” and incorruptible, and “invisible,” he cannot be
seen by the aids of nature,—even in the life to come the saints require the lumen gloriæ to see him as he is, “face to face.”—(See 1 Cor 13:12). “Only God.” In Greek, only wise God. The epithet, wise is, however, wanting in the oldest manuscripts and versions, and generally rejected by critics.