Is Paul saying sin-consciousness is good by saying “he was the chief of sinners”?


I saw an argument that was put forth by someone to promote sin consciousness.

He argues while Paul may profess to be the righteousness of God, he did it when he was young.

He then submits that Paul in the later days in his life in final letters to Timothy being near his death called himself the worst of sinners.

He therefore argues that when Christians are young they think they are righteous but they matured they realized how sinful they are. “Being conscious of sin is a sign of maturity and such grace is elementary”.

Let’s examine the relevant scripture.

1 Timothy 1:15
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

Let’s look at it from the proper context. What is the point he was making.

I will capitalize the important words here:

1 Timothy 1:12-16

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me TRUSTWORTHY, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown MERCY because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.

The GRACE of our Lord was poured out on me ABUNDANTLY, along with the faith and love that ARE IN Christ Jesus.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

BUT for that very reason I was shown MERCY so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an EXAMPLE for THOSE WHO WOULD believe in him and receive eternal life.

Does this sound like sin-consciousness or grace-consciousness to you?

Paul is not talking about the need to confess your sins here. He is speaking about himself as an example of God’s grace.

How despite who he was, he was deemed as TRUSTWORTHY. He was referring to righteousness that was imputed to him.

Also remember there are letters to Timothy. If I choose to follow his argument that Paul was near the end of his life, hence he was more matured in his theology.

I would argue that by 2nd Timothy was written he would have been more matured.

This is what Paul said just before he went to sleep.

2 Timothy 4:8
Now there is in store for me the crown of RIGHTEOUSNESS, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

(His appearing happened on AD70.)

Now let me ask you.

Was Paul conscious of sin or was he conscious of righteousness, just before he died?


  1. Great post. The person you are responding to hasn’t yet grapsed the wonder of God’s grace.

    But Simon what do you mean when you say his appearing happened in AD70. Isn’t Paul talking about Christ’s second coming, which will happen in ‘a blaze of fire with his glorious angels’ ?

    1. Take a look at these extracts.

      How Jesus came back.

      Historical documents.

      Josephus (A.D. 75) – Jewish Historian
      “Besides these [signs], a few days after that feast, on the one- and-twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armour were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.

      Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence” (Jewish Wars, VI-V-3).

      “A supernatural apparition was seen, too amazing to be believed. What I am now to relate would, I imagine, be dismissed as imaginary, had this not been vouched for by eyewitnesses, then followed by subsequent disasters that deserved to be thus signalized.

      For before sunset chariots were seen in the air over the whole country, and armed battalions speeding through the clouds and encircling the cities.” (rendered in Chilton)

      Tacitus (A.D. 115) – Roman historian
      “13. Prodigies had occurred, but their expiation by the offering of victims or solemn vows is held to be unlawful by a nation which is the slave of superstition and the enemy of true beliefs. In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour.

      A sudden lightning flash from the clouds lit up the Temple. The doors of the holy place abruptly opened, a superhuman voice was heard to declare that the gods were leaving it, and in the same instant came the rushing tumult of their departure.

      Few people placed a sinister interpretation upon this. The majority were convinced that the ancient scriptures of their priests alluded to the present as the very time when the Orient would triumph and from Judaea would go forth men destined to rule the world.” (Histories, Book 5, v. 13).

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