Christian Theology, Biblical Theology

"You are no longer under law but grace; therefore, sin shall not have dominion over you" "The grace of God has appeared teaching men to say no to sin"

1 Timothy 1:15 Was Paul Still A Sinner After His Conversion?

1 Timothy 1:15: The truth about Paul

Did Paul Live in Sin After His Conversion - How Does He Tell Christians To Live

I have heard so many pastors and Christians claim that Paul lived a sinful life after his conversion, let's examine just a few scriptures.

1 Timothy 1:15 reads: This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. THIS IS THE SCRIPTURE THAT THE CHRISTIANS WHO ARE ENSLAVED TO SIN LOVE TO QUOTE. The people who teach this don't understand the literary concept of the Historical Present tense (Which Paul employed in this passage). For everywhere else Paul commands us live holy and to be holy for God is holy. And to become slaves to righteousness rather than sin.

Ephesians 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 

Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider your selves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, 13 and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. 

So we have a real dilemma on our hands, a blatant contradiction between 1 Tim 1:15 and Paul's statements in Ephesians 5 and Romans 6. Paul is preaching holiness and how unholy living is not acceptable in Ephesians and Romans - yet boasting of his ungodly lifestyle in 1 Timothy. This would imply that Paul (writing in the Spirit) contradicted himself, and the Holy Spirit is now speaking with a forked tongue. How do we get out of this dilemma? Context and literary devices to the rescue!

In 1 Timothy 1:15 was Paul saying he was presently the "Chief among sinners" or was he using a literary device or speaking in another sense about his lifestyle before he was converted? If we take 1 Tim 1:15 with a wooden-literalness, then we would also have to assume that Paul, after his conversion was still worse than Nero and all the other tyrants of his time if he was "Chief among sinners"! But; Paul was using the Historical Present Tense to accentuate his life before his conversion. Often literary devices are used to emphasize a point in the bible. Jesus often used a Double Negation to drive home a point (which is often used in Greek for emphasis). Unfortunately, we often like to take one scripture to justify a doctrine, or our sin, but we cannot overlook the tenor of the entire bible. The bible is a collection of letters instructing us in righteous living, and should be the context that we approach scriptures with. Just think for a moment how Paul tells us to be dead to sin and slaves to righteousness, and then mentions how he is chief among sinners. There must be an answer to this dilemma and I think I presented a very cogent answer to these ostensible contradictions. If one is determined to believe that Paul was chief among sinners after his conversion, then they will have to confess that the bible is contradictory.


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  2. Sorry, you just don't get in what sense bible teacher mean Paul was the chief of sinners. Martin Luther taught that we are simultaneously sinners and righteous.. according to the flesh and the law we are still sinners but according to Christ by faith we are righteous.
    You misunderstood Romans 6 and Ephesians 5 anyway. It's that Pauls sensitivity to his sin according to flesh (past yes) in was so son was magnified because he now loves God that he said he was chief of sinners... He knew he needed Christ more.

  3. Luther was wrong. The entire teaching of the New Testament is living victoriously through Christ without sin. For whosoever the Son sets free is Free indeed. And Paul in Romans 6 Paul said "Sin shall not have dominion over you for you are under grace and not law" I believe Peter tells us that grace gives us the power to say no to sin. If Christ can't save us from sinning, than he died a needless death. We could have continued with the Mosaic law and spared the Son of God.

  4. "Historical present tense" and "double negation" (often used in Greek) as the New Testament is written in Greek are the concepts that the author uses to clarify the depthful meaning of these scriptures. There is no contradictions in the Scripture. In Christ, we have been translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. It takes the revelation of the Holy Spirit to reveal the true meaning of the context and content of scripture. Humans try to use intelligence and logic to understand the Scriptures (Holy Bible), when it takes the Holy Spirit to supply the inerrant revelation required for us to obtain understanding of it. What Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension accomplished for the born again believer is both eternal and irrevocable.

  5. Clearly Paul still 'struggled' with sin after his conversion. And one could even interpret the following scriptures as him (Paul) "still sinning" even though he not only was guilt ridden but absolutely detested it. I was expecting the author to bring up these scriptures as they follow Romans 6:1 in the next chapter.
    Romans 7:7-25

    7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”
    8 But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead.
    9 Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.
    10 I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.
    11 For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death.
    12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.
    13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.
    14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.
    15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
    16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.
    17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.
    18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
    19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.
    20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
    21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
    22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;
    23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
    24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
    25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

    These scriptures seem to lend credence to Paul still sinning. I don't believe any man is sin free after conversion. We are convicted by sin after conversion, THAT IS THE KEY! These are the first fruits. And I believe the struggle will last until our fleshly "earthen" death.

    Many trials we will indeed conquer through faith in Jesus alone. We will slip (sin) from time to time. And we will feel exactly what Paul is describing. Is this a pass to sin? NO!
    The "practice" of sin however, which is doing so with no feeling of remorse or repentance can cause us to lose our "Salt of the earth" status.
    Leading to:

    Matthew 5:13-16
    13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

    Yes a clear warning from the Son of God himself.
    You can lose your salvation in the "practice" of sin.
    I pray this reaches the Salt of the earth.