๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ‘‘ Was Paul the Chief of Sinners?

โ€œWhat did Paul mean when he said he was the chief of sinners?โ€

โ€œโ€ฆChrist Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chiefโ€ (1 Tim. 1:15)

When we think of sinners, we generally think of those who commit carnal, fleshly sins such as fornication and murder. But the Bible speaks ofย anotherย kind of sin, that of religious pride and hypocritical self-righteousness. Youโ€™d think God would hate fleshly sins more, but when the Lord was here, He was kind and patient to sinners of that genre. By contrast, He deliveredย blisteringย denunciations of the scribes and Pharisees for their religious pride and self-righteousness, and for their persecution of their Messiah.

But it doesnโ€™t really matter which sort of sin is worse in the context of this question, for before he was saved, Paul was guilty ofย bothย varieties. Murder is the worst sort of fleshly sins, and he was guilty of murdering Godโ€™s people. But he persecuted them in religious self-righteousness, for โ€œtouching the righteousness which is in the lawโ€ he was โ€œblamelessโ€ (Phil. 3:6). This sinful combination certainly made him theย chiefย of sinners.

In addition, the Bible word โ€œchiefโ€ can meanย most prominent, as it does when it speaks of โ€œthe chief singerโ€ (Hab. 3:19) and โ€œchief priestsโ€ (Ezra 10:5). The word can also have the idea ofย leadership.ย โ€œThe chief manโ€ on the island where Paul was shipwrecked (Acts 28:7) was probably the leader of those native people, and โ€œBeelzebub the chief of devilsโ€ (Luke 11:15) was a reference to Satan, who is certainly the leader of all devils.

So in calling himself the chief of sinners, Paul wasย alsoย saying that he was the most prominent leader of the worldโ€™s sinful rebellion against God (Acts 8:3; 9:1). Thatโ€™s why God saved him, to prominently show His grace in him (1 Tim. 1:16), just as Heย judgedย Pharaoh, the worldโ€™s most prominent and powerful leader, to show Hisย powerย inย himย (Exod. 9:16).

This might be why Paul used the present tense to say he wasย still the chief of sinners, even now that he was saved. He was still the worldโ€™s most prominent example of the worst kinds of sinner saved by grace. source

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