“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting” (I Timothy 1:16).
Our text verse follows Paul’s statement that he is the “chief” of sinners. It was the goodness and longsuffering of God that resulted in Paul’s salvation and caused him to ask, “despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).
God’s pattern of longsuffering has long been established (“The longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah” [I Peter 3:20]), and the fact that even Paul, the “chief sinner,” could be saved, gives all sinners the confidence that they too will “obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
God’s longsuffering should also serve as a pattern for longsuffering in our lives, so that those who “oppose themselves” and who are “taken captive” by the devil might repent and acknowledge the truth (II Timothy 2:25,26). Paul urges us to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith [we] are called With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering” (Ephesians 4:1,2). He urged Timothy to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Timothy 4:2). Paul followed the pattern that had resulted in his own salvation, “as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, . . . By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering” (II Corinthians 6:4.6). Longsuffering is a fruit of the Spirit of God. When one loves, he “suffereth long” (I Corinthians 13:4)—all to the end that a pattern would emerge in our lives that would cause men and women to “believe on Him to life everlasting.” CJH