In Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus, he includes several statements that he calls “faithful sayings”. They appear to be statements of faith that would hold significance for the early Christians. It is not known for sure the purpose of these faithful sayings, but some believe that these were statements that the early Christians were encouraged to know and memorize. We have to appreciate first century Christianity. The New Testament had not been completely written or the books collected, so early Christians did not have a Bible as we do. And even if there were some of the books available, there would not have been abundant copies as we have today nor could everyone read. If early Christians were encouraged to know and memorize these faithful sayings, perhaps it would be good for us to know and memorize them as well. Let us look at these faithful sayings and what they teach.
1 Timothy 1:15 “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” I believe that “of whom I am chief” was not part of the faithful saying but added by Paul as his personal feeling that he was chief among sinners because he persecuted the church before he became a Christian. So the faithful saying would be “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” This is a statement of the gospel and therefore should be very important to us. Christ Jesus came into the world to save you and me. We should thank and praise God every day for this fact. This faithful saying is reinforced by John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” God sent His son into the world that the world through Him might be saved. This message of the gospel should be on our hearts. We all are surrounded by sinners that are lost. Jesus came into the world, not only to save you, but to save others who are lost. Is there something you can do or say that would lead a lost one to Jesus so that he might be saved?
1 Timothy 3:1 “This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.” The meaning of the word bishop is overseer. Paul exhorted the elders of Ephesus in Acts 20:28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” From that we conclude that it is all one position – elder, bishop and shepherd (or pastor). Each word describes a different characteristic of the position. There should be bishops in each congregation. If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.
1 Timothy 4:8-9 “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.” Like today, the Greeks put a great emphasis upon bodily exercise and the beauty of the physical body. Ruins can be found today of gymnasiums in ancient Roman cities. Since bodily exercise was a significant part of the first century culture, it was good for the faithful saying to address it. It says that “bodily exercise profits a little”. We know that to be true today. Doctors encourage us to exercise. If we don’t exercise, our bodies become weak and we are more subject to disease and injury. So there is some profit in bodily exercise. But godliness is much more profitable. Godliness is devotion toward God and living as He desires. It is so much more profitable than bodily exercise since being godly brings quality of life now and the blessings of eternal life. We need to be reminded of the relative benefits of bodily exercise and godliness.
2 Timothy 2:11-13 “This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” First, we need to remind ourselves that as Christians we have died to our old life. Romans 6:4-5 “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.” If we have died with Him, we shall also live with Him. Second, we need to be reminded to endure. Hebrews 10:36 “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” The promise is that we will reign with Him. Third, we need to be reminded to confess Jesus and not deny Him. Matthew 10:32-33 “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.” Fourth, we must remain faithful. Matthew 25:21 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’” This faithful saying reminds us that we have died with Him, that we need to endure, that we need to confess Jesus before the world, and we need to be faithful.
Titus 3:8 “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.” While works do not save us, we have been created for good works. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” We should encourage one another for love and good works. Hebrews 10:24 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” We should be careful to maintain good works.
Paul gave us several faithful sayings. I encourage you to know these and perhaps memorize them. They remind us of important principles of our faith.