Ezekiel, Jonah, and Pastoral Epistles by Patrick Fairbairn - 1 Timothy 1:16 - 1:16

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Ezekiel, Jonah, and Pastoral Epistles by Patrick Fairbairn - 1 Timothy 1:16 - 1:16


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Ver. 16. Howabeit (so the A.V. well, giving full expression to the contrast indicated by the ἀëëὰ between the apostle’s behaviour toward Christ, and Christ’s procedure toward him), for this cause I obtained mercy, in order that in me first Christ Jesus might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him to life eternal. The former reason assigned by the apostle for his obtaining mercy had respect to his personal relation to the principles of the divine government, as one little entitled to expect any manifestation of mercy, yet not placed beyond the sphere of its exercise. But the reason here adduced points to the economical design of God in selecting such a sinner to be a vessel of mercy: it was that he might be a living exemplar or pattern, as well as herald, of the wonderful grace exhibited in the gospel; so that from what had been wrought in him others might take courage, and repair to Christ for the pardon of sin and life eternal,—might, as it is put by Bengel, conform themselves to the pattern, and say to themselves. If thou believest as Paul, thou shalt be saved as Paul. Such is the general import, and the particular words and phrases involve no special difficulty. There is a difference in the reading in one part; the received text having ôç ̀ í ðá ͂ óáí ìáêñïèõìé ́ áí , while Lach. and Tisch. prefer ôç ̀ í á ̓́ ðáóáí ìáê . This last is certainly somewhat better supported, being found in à , A, F, G, while the other has only D, I, K. But the difference in meaning is not material. If we adopt á ̓́ ðáóáí , it merely renders the entireness or fulness of the long-suffering manifested toward the apostle more distinctly pronounced: the whole of His long-suffering, all that He had to show of it. But the other reading ( ðá ͂ óáí ) also includes all; for ðá ͂ ò , when standing between the article and the noun, according to the rule, marks the noun as an abstract, and indicates that it is to be taken in its entirety, without respect to individual members or component parts (Winer, Gr. § 17, 10; Green, Gr. p. 194). So that ôç ̀ í ðá ͂ óáí ìáê . denotes all that can be comprised in the term long-suffering—this in its totality. And so Chrysostom explains, though the reading he followed was that of the received text: “As if he said, In none more than in me has He need to show long-suffering; nor can He find one who has been so much a sinner, needing all His mercy, all His long-suffering, not a part merely, as they who have sinned in part.” He could not have said more, if he had read á ̓́ ðáóáí . The word for pattern, ὑðïôýðùóéò , which is found only here and in 2Ti_1:13, does not materially differ from ôõ ́ ðïò , the term commonly used by Paul (Rom_5:14; 1Co_10:6, 1Co_10:11, etc.); but is of more active import—expresses not so properly the inanimate form as the living exemplification, the personified action of the long-suffering referred to. And being coupled with the genitive of possession— ôῶí ìåëëüíôùí ðéóôåýåéí —it is represented as in some sense belonging to these future believers—called into existence and set forth for their special behoof. In St. Paul first—first in the sense of chief, or foremost exemplification—had the attribute of mercy been displayed, that they might be the more distinctly assured of the divine purpose to extend its manifestation to themselves. And being described as going to believe on Christ to life eternal, these future believers, who would take the benefit of the apostle’s marvellous experience, have presented to them at once the high destiny to which they should be called, and the ground on which their hope of it must rest—faith in the person and work of Christ.

[The question here naturally suggests itself, how far Christian ministers should in their preaching disclose their more marked personal experiences, or should interweave references to their spiritual history with their manifestations of divine truth to their fellow-men. But it were unwise to lay down any precise rule in the matter, or prescribe one method for all. That there may occasionally be made such personal references, and with advantage to the hearers, the example of the apostle is itself a sufficient proof. Not only here, but in several other parts of his epistles, he brings prominently forward what had befallen or had been done by himself; and these are universally felt to be among the most interesting and instructive portions of his writings. And so will it ever be with men of like minds, men of ardent temperaments, vivid imaginations, and energetic wills, in whom everything in experience and behaviour naturally assumes a distinctly personal, characteristic impress. It will be natural for such persons to reveal themselves at times in their discourses, whether by direct reference to the past workings of their own mind, and God’s dealings with them, or by subjective exhibitions of Christian truth and duty, raised on the background of their own experience. When fitly and discreetly done, it may throw a peculiar charm and glow over the preacher’s discourse. But very great caution is needed in the use of such an element, lest it should degenerate into egotism, or become merely a display of individual singularity and importance. Deep sincerity—the impulse of strong feeling—a conviction of its fitness to subserve some spiritual end, should ever go along with, and condition, any personal references one may make in public discourse. And if some men of note have dealt much in them, and by doing so have lent an attractive power to their mode of address, such as Luther, Bunyan, Irving, Guthrie; others, again, of the very highest mark as public speakers,—for example, Leighton, R. Hall, Chalmers,—have studiously avoided it: their individuality has discovered itself only in the distinctive character and spirit of their discourse.]