Paul wrote two letters to Timothy, a man he described as “my own son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). Paul’s relationship with Timothy was like no other and the fact that he wrote two letters that were intended to be personal instruction to him showed that Paul cared a great deal about Timothy’s spiritual well-being. Paul warned Timothy about the trials and tribulations of being in the ministry and gave him the responsibility of following in his footsteps after he was imprisoned in Rome. Paul reminded Timothy that he had formerly been a blasphemer, and a persecutor, but he had obtained mercy from God because he did it in unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13). Then he said in a very straightforward manner, “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am the chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).
Paul’s attitude about God’s grace was that he could save anyone, even the worst of sinners that deserved to go to hell. Paul explained to Timothy that he had been saved for the purpose of showing others what God could do. Paul said, “However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life” (1 Timothy 1:16, NKJV). The Greek word translated pattern, hupotuposis (hoop-ot-oop’-o-sis) refers to something that is meant to be copied or imitated (G5296). What Paul was getting at was the idea that God had made him into a cast or die, a mold if you will, that others could be poured into as a means of replicating the results of his ministry. Paul wanted Timothy to understand that his life would have similar characteristics to his own if he continued in the ministry.
Paul concluded his personal exhortation by stating, “Timothy, my son, here is my word to you. Fight well for the Lord! God’s preachers told us you would. Keep a strong hold on your faith in Christ. May your heart always say you are right. Some people have not listened to what their hearts say. They have done what they knew was wrong. Because of this, their faith in Christ was wrecked” (1 Timothy 1:18-19, NLV). Paul’s instruction to “Fight well for the Lord!” was most likely referring to spiritual warfare and was reiterated in 1 Timothy 6:12 where Paul said, “Fight the good fight of faith.” The pattern that Paul was setting forth for Timothy was not only to believe God’s word, but to do what God told him to. Paul wanted Timothy to act in accordance with his calling into the ministry and not be afraid to take risks even if it meant ending up in prison like he had.