1:12-17 The apostle knew that he would justly have perished, if the Lord had been extreme to mark what was amiss; and also if his grace and mercy had not been abundant to him when dead in sin, working faith and love to Christ in his heart. This is a faithful saying; these are true and faithful words, which may be depended on, That the Son of God came into the world, willingly and purposely to save sinners. No man, with Paul's example before him, can question the love and power of Christ to save him, if he really desires to trust in him as the Son of God, who once died on the cross, and now reigns upon the throne of glory, to save all that come to God through him. Let us then admire and praise the grace of God our Saviour; and ascribe to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three Persons in the unity of the Godhead, the glory of all done in, by, and for us.
13. Who was before—Greek, "Formerly being a blasphemer." "Notwithstanding that I was before a blasphemer," &c. (Ac 26:9, 11).
injurious—Greek, "insulter"; one who acts injuriously from arrogant contempt of others. Translate, Ro 1:30, "despiteful." One who added insult to injury. Bengel translates, "a despiser." I prefer the idea, contumelious to others [Wahl]. Still I agree with Bengel that "blasphemer" is against God, "persecutor," against holy men, and "insolently injurious" includes, with the idea of injuring others, that of insolent "uppishness" [Donaldson] in relation to one's self. This threefold relation to God, to one's neighbor, and to one's self, occurs often in this Epistle (1Ti 1:5, 9, 14; Tit 2:12).
I obtained mercy—God's mercy, and Paul's want of it, stand in sharp contrast [Ellicott]; Greek, "I was made the object of mercy." The sense of mercy was perpetual in the mind of the apostle (compare Note, see on 1Ti 1:2). Those who have felt mercy can best have mercy on those out of the way (Heb 5:2, 3).
because I did it ignorantly—Ignorance does not in itself deserve pardon; but it is a less culpable cause of unbelief than pride and wilful hardening of one's self against the truth (Joh 9:41; Ac 26:9). Hence it is Christ's plea of intercession for His murderers (Lu 23:34); and it is made by the apostles a mitigating circumstance in the Jews' sin, and one giving a hope of a door of repentance (Ac 3:17; Ro 10:2). The "because," &c., does not imply that ignorance was a sufficient reason for mercy being bestowed; but shows how it was possible that such a sinner could obtain mercy. The positive ground of mercy being shown to him, lies solely in the compassion of God (Tit 3:5). The ground of the ignorance lies in the unbelief, which implies that this ignorance is not unaccompanied with guilt. But there is a great difference between his honest zeal for the law, and a wilful striving against the Spirit of God (Mt 12:24-32; Lu 11:52) [Wiesinger].