The apostle Paul’s self-image

Graphing the apostle Paul's view of his sinfulness

The longer that Saul of Tarsus walked with Christ, the more aware of his sinfulness he became.

Before encountering Christ, he considered himself blameless (Philippians 3:6). Years later, he’d describe himself as “the least of the apostles” (1 Corinthians 15:9). Some years after that, he’d call himself “the least of all the saints” (Ephesians 3:8) and “the worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Each time, the circle grew wider: apostles, saints, sinners.

Even allowing for Eastern humility and exaggeration, I think Paul did have a point to get across: the more he saw of his Saviour, the more he saw why he needed salvation.

What I find instructive is that the increased awareness of his sinful state didn’t leave him grovelling in the ash-heap. Instead, he breaks out in praise to the One who showed such incomparable patience and mercy to him (1 Timothy 1:16-17).

Now that’s a lesson I’m yet to learn…


The Lord moves in mysterious ways… Here’s a post that’s been sitting in  my feed reader that’s about awareness of our sin and expressing gratefulness to God. It’s got a video and a link to another blog post on the same topic.

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