By Paul M. Zehr
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Paul thanks Christ Jesus for strengthening him, judging him faithful, and appointing him to Christ’s service. Paul is talking about his conversion in the past rather than the continuing work of Christ in his life. Strengthening refers to Paul’s initial call to ministry and the Christ-given ability to perform apostolic tasks. God has strengthened him and entrusted him with the apostolic task because God has reckoned him trustworthy. God entrusts his gospel to those whom he has made trustworthy. The term service (diakonia) appears several times in Luke-Acts and now is applied to Paul, who is appointed to God’s service.
The extremity of Paul’s sinfulness forthrightly demonstrates God’s mercy and grace to save any sinner. But for that very reason I received mercy (1 Tim 1:16). Again Paul uses the strong adversative but, indicating the importance of what he is saying. He received mercy and grace not only as a backward-looking statement about his sinfulness, but also as a forward-looking statement of God’s reason and purpose in saving him. In saving Paul, Christ was displaying patience, making him an example for others to believe in Christ in the future.
Anabaptists take sin seriously and see it as having both personal and corporate effects. Salvation brings about the release and transformation of the individual from sin; it also shields the Christian believer from the corporate environment of sin as one enters into the body of Christ, the church, which is God’s new creation and order of life. Grace therefore treats not only past sins and the symptoms of sin; it also treats the cause of sin. “Grace is more than pardon for human sins and shortcomings; grace also is transformative, re-creative power.
1 & 2 Timothy, Titus by Paul M. Zehr