Paul is writing to Timothy, the first leader that he ever began to develop as part of his traveling apostolic team from the churches that he planted. It seems that his intent is to remind Timothy of the work that Paul has sent him to do, but in starting his reminder of the work, Paul starts with a reminder of who he is and where he has come from:
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.1 Timothy 1:15-17
Paul knows who he is. In the paragraph before this, in verse 13, Paul said that he was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent man. Today, we might even say that he was a terrorist. He was someone that killed others for their religious beliefs.
It is from this place that Jesus called Paul to serve him. Paul was a terrible person, maybe even the type of person that Jesus had chided previously while he was on the earth, and yet, now, he is calling Paul because he wants him to devote his life to serve God in the way that is truly God’s plan, through Christ, giving his life completely to him.
Paul was the worst of sinners, but God showed incredible patience with him. Not only that Paul would be saved but that many others would be saved as well and receive eternal life.
Most importantly, though, is that through all of this work of God, he is the one that receives the glory. Paul calls Jesus the King eternal and that he is the one who should receive the glory for all that he has done in Paul’s life. Paul’s salvation and work has nothing to do with what Paul has done, but everything to do with what God has done in and through Paul’s life.