The Agora
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Sayings of faith in Pastorals

"This is a faithful saying" (1Ti 1:15). "Faithful" signifies sure, positive, true, trustworthy, reliable. In the Pastoral Epistles there are five "faithful sayings"; the expression seems to indicate that they are sayings which had become proverbial in the ecclesia at the stage of development implied in the Pastorals (between 60 and 65 AD); and that they are either statements of doctrine concisely expressed or else maxims of Christian conduct.

It is likely that "faithful saying" is an echo of the prayer which traditionally followed the recital of the words, "Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One" (Deu 6:4). May these be our words, an "Amen" of assent to the sound words of God:

"True and firm, established and enduring, right and faithful, beloved and precious, desirable, and pleasant, revered and mighty, well-ordered and acceptable, good and beautiful IS THIS THY WORD unto us forever."
For in these words, whether he is quoting an established ecclesial saying, a fragment of a Christian hymn or a doctrinal statement, the Apostle relates it to the purpose he has in hand: the restraint of false teaching and the edification of the ecclesia through the wise guidance of responsible members. However he speaks, then, he speaks as the oracles of God; and this God is faithful (1Co 1:9:10:13), having provided us sure words by which to live.

Just as God was a God of truth, so the sayings of the Apostle Paul bore the stamp of God, the stamp of faithfulness and authenticity (2Co 1:18,20). As we consider each of the "faithful sayings" of the Pastoral Epistles separately we shall see their force and beauty. And we shall see the characteristic way in which Paul uses them to express the teaching of him who said to another apostle:

"Write, for these sayings are true and {b}faithful{\b}" (Rev 22:6).
Let us note the progression of the five faithful sayings, all in the Pastoral epistles, which outline the process of salvation from Paul's viewpoint:

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