1 Timothy 1:13
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;

King James Bible
Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

Darby Bible Translation
who before was a blasphemer and persecutor, and an insolent overbearing man: but mercy was shewn me because I did it ignorantly, in unbelief.

World English Bible
although I was before a blasphemer, a persecutor, and insolent. However, I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

Young's Literal Translation
who before was speaking evil, and persecuting, and insulting, but I found kindness, because, being ignorant, I did it in unbelief,

1 Timothy 1:13 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Who was before a blasphemer - This does not mean that Paul before his conversion was what would now be regarded as an open blasphemer - that he was one who abused and reviled sacred things, or one who was in the habit of profane swearing. His character appears to have been just the reverse of this, for he was remarkable for treating what he regarded as sacred with the utmost respect; see the notes on Philippians 3:4-6. The meaning is, that he had reviled the name of Christ, and opposed him and his cause - not believing that he was the Messiah; and in thus opposing he had really been guilty of blasphemy. The true Messiah he had in fact treated with contempt and reproaches, and he now looked back upon that fact with the deepest mortification, and with wonder that one who had been so treated by him should have been willing to put him into the ministry. On the meaning of the word blaspheme, see the notes on Matthew 9:3; compare Acts 26:11. In his conduct here referred to, Paul elsewhere says, that he thought at the time that he was doing what he ought to do Acts 26:9; here he says that he now regarded it as blasphemy. Hence, learn that people may have very different views of their conduct when they come to look at it in subsequent life. What they now regard as harmless, or even as right and proper, may hereafter overwhelm them with shame and remorse. The sinner will yet feel the deepest self-reproaches for that which now gives us no uneasiness.

And a persecutor - Acts 9:1 ff; Acts 22:4; Acts 26:11; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13, Galatians 1:23.

And injurious - The word here used (ὑβριστής hubristēs), occurs only in one other place in the New Testament, Romans 1:30, where it is rendered "despiteful." The word injurious does not quite express its force. It does not mean merely doing injury, but refers rather to the manner or spirit in which it is done. It is a word of intenser signification than either the word "blasphemer," or "persecutor," and means that what he did was done with a proud, haughty, insolent spirit. There was wicked and malicious violence, an arrogance and spirit of tyranny in what he did, which greatly aggravated the wrong that was done; compare the Greek in Matthew 22:6; Luke 11:45; Luke 18:32; Acts 14:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 12:10, for illustrations of the meaning of the word. Tyndale and Coverdale render it here "tyrant."

But I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief - compare notes on Luke 23:34. The ignorance and unbelief of Paul were not such excuses for what he did that they would wholly free him from blame, nor did he regard them as such - for what he did was with a violent and wicked spirit - but they were mitigating circumstances. They served to modify his guilt, and were among the reasons why God had mercy on him. What is said here, therefore, accords with what the Saviour said in his prayer for his murderers; "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." It is undoubtedly true that persons who sin ignorantly, and who regard themselves as right in what they do, are much more likely to obtain mercy than those who do wrong designedly.

Yet we cannot but regard - Paul's "ignorance in unbelief" as, in itself, a grievous sin, He had abundant means of knowing the truth had he been disposed to inquire with patience and candor. His great abilities and excellent education are a further aggravation of the crime. It is, therefore, impossible to acquiesce in any solution of this clause which seems to make criminal ignorance a ground of mercy. The author, however, intends nothing of this kind, nor would it be fair to put such construction on his words. Yet, a little more fullness had been desirable on a subject of this nature. It is certain, that, independent of the nature of the ignorance, whether willful or otherwise, the character of crime is affected by it. He who should oppose truth, knowing it to be such, is more guilty than he who opposes it in ignorance, or under the conviction that it is not truth, but falsehood. In a certain sense, too, this ignorance, may be regarded as a reason why mercy is bestowed on such as sin desperately or blasphemously under it. Rather, it is a reason why they are not excluded from mercy. It shows why persons so guilty are not beyond its pale. This is, we think, the true key both to the passage, and that in Luke 23:34. The ignorance is not a reason why God should bestow mercy on such persons, rather than on others left to perish, but a reason why they obtain mercy at all, who, by their blasphemies had been supposed to have reached the sin against the Holy Spirit.

Now consider the passage in this view. The apostle had just been showing how great a sinner he had formerly been. His criminality had been so great that it went near to shutting him out from mercy altogether. Had he maliciously persecuted and blasphemed Christ, knowing him to be the Messiah, his had been the unpardonable sin, and his lot that of judicial, final obduracy. But he had not got that length. He was saved from that gulph, and obtained mercy, because, sinning ignorantly and in unbelief, he was not beyond its range.

That Paul should set himself to excuse his guilt is altogether impossible. He does the very reverse. He has but escaped the unpardonable sin. He is chief of sinners. He owes his salvation to exceeding abundant grace. All long-suffering has been exercised toward him. He affirms, that mercy was extended to him, that, to the end of time, there might be a proof or pattern of mercy to the guiltiest. Had he been assigning a reason why he obtained mercy, rather than others left to perish, doubtless that had been what he has elsewhere assigned and defended, "God will have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and he will have compassion on whom he will have compassion;" Romans 9:15.

1 Timothy 1:13 Parallel Commentaries

Library
The Chief of Sinners
'Of whom I am chief.'--1 TIM. i. 15. The less teachers of religion talk about themselves the better; and yet there is a kind of personal reference, far removed from egotism and offensiveness. Few such men have ever spoken more of themselves than Paul did, and yet none have been truer to his motto: 'We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus.' For the scope of almost all his personal references is the depreciation of self, and the magnifying of the wonderful mercy which drew him to Jesus Christ. Whenever
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

St. Paul's Wish to be Accursed from Christ.
"For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." Few characters more remarkable than that of St. Paul, are to be found in history. He is introduced to our acquaintance on a tragical occasion--the martyrdom of Stephen, where he appears an accomplice with murderers--"he was standing by and consenting to his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him." The circumstances of Paul's conversion to Christianity were very remarkable, and
Andrew Lee et al—Sermons on Various Important Subjects

The Joy that was Set Before Him
T. P. I Tim. i. 15 From the palace of His glory, From the radiance and the rest, Came the Son of God to seek me, Bear me home upon His breast. There from that eternal brightness Did His thoughts flow forth to me-- He in His great love would have me Ever there with Him to be. Far away, undone, forsaken, Not for Him my heart was sore; But for need and bitter hunger-- Christ desired I nevermore. Could it be that in the glory, Ere of Him I had a thought, He was yearning o'er the lost one, Whom His
Frances Bevan—Hymns of Ter Steegen, Suso, and Others

But Regard the Troops of virgins, Holy Boys and Girls...
37. But regard the troops of virgins, holy boys and girls: this kind hath been trained up in Thy Church: there for Thee it hath been budding from its mother's breasts; for Thy Name it hath loosed its tongue to speak, Thy Name, as through the milk of its infancy, it hath had poured in and hath sucked, no one of this number can say, "I, who before was a blasphemer, and persecutor, and injurious, but I obtained mercy, in that I did in being ignorant, in unbelief." [2130] Yea more, that, which Thou commandedst
St. Augustine—Of Holy Virginity.

Cross References
Acts 8:3
But Saul began ravaging the church, entering house after house, and dragging off men and women, he would put them in prison.

Acts 26:9
"So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

1 Corinthians 7:25
Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy.

1 Timothy 1:16
Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

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