Why would Paul tell us to thank God the Father for “all things” (Eph.5:20) while he himself thanked the Son for one particular thing (ITim.1:12)? I believe it is because when the Lord saved Paul He did something for him that he doesn’t do for us, especially when it comes to being called to the ministry. God calls all men to be pastors, and those who “desire” to respond can consider themselves called (ITim.3:1). God calls them by showing them in His Word that sinners need to hear the gospel and saints need to be edified in the faith.
But that’s not how Paul got saved! God chose him (Acts 9:15, probably before he was born, like Jeremiah (Jer.1:4,5). God didn’t choose Jeremiah to be saved, he chose him to be a prophet. He himself had to choose to be saved. Jeremiah and Paul did, Balaam didn’t. But being chosen individually to be an apostle makes Paul’s call to the ministry different than all others, which may explain why Paul thanked God differently than all others.
The Lord “enabled” him (ITim.1:12) by making him an “able minister” of the new covenant (IICor.3:6). He didn’t do that in any supernatural way, but by giving him a great message, New Covenant grace, the world’s best product at the world’s best price — free! Pastors today have been given the same ability, as have all Christians who wish to minister God’s grace to others.
Since “for that” (ITim.1:12) means because (IChron.15:13; Pr.1:28,29), Paul is saying the reason the Lord enabled him and put him in the ministry was because he counted him faithful. To “count” means to judge, as our translators translated the Greek word for “count” in Hebrews 11:11. But we like to know a man years before counting him faithful enough to make him a minister, how did the Lord count Paul faithful? After all, He put him in the ministry the day He saved him (Acts 26:16,17).
Well, Paul counted Lydia faithful enough to stay with her the day she got saved (Acts 16:13-15) because she “attended” to Paul’s words. That word means to pay attention to and respond (Ps.66:19). So when Lydia responded to Paul’s words he was able to judge her faithful, and when Paul said, “What wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:5,6), when he agreed to do a complete 180 and go from being a persecutor to being persecuted, the Lord was able to judge him faithful on the basis of this response.
Since Paul was a “blasphemer” (v.13) he couldn’t have been saved under the kingdom program (Mt.12:31,32). He never blasphemed the Father, he kept the Father’s Law, and he doesn’t appear in the four gospels so didn’t blaspheme the Son. It wasn’t till the apostles were filled with the Spirit that he blasphemed. Since he couldn’t be saved in the Lord’s world or “the world to come”, we know God introduced a whole new world, a world the Lord knew nothing of because it was a mystery (Eph.3:1-3). The “world to come” He spoke of comes after this dispensation, a world the disciples tasted at Pentecost (Heb.6:4,5).
More proof that the Lord introduced a new world with Paul comes when he says he was a “persecutor,” for you couldn’t be a persecutor in the Lord’s world and be saved, you had to be a follower (Mt.18:18-22;Mt.19:27-29; Jo.10: 27,28), and in the world to come as well (Rev.14:4). Paul wasn’t a follower, he persecuted followers. You couldn’t be “injurious” in the Lord’s world either (Mt.18:6,10) or in the world to come (Rev.16:5,6), but Saul was (Acts 9:1,2).
When Paul claimed he killed the saints “ignorantly” (v.13), that’s the loophole Peter gave Israel when he charged them with the manslaughter of Christ (Deut.19:3,4 cf. Acts 3:17) and not His murder (Num.35:16), something he did with the Lord’s permission (Lu.23:34). But Peter could use it for the Jews who blasphemed the Son; Paul couldn’t use it since he blasphemed the Spirit. His only hope was grace, which God gave him in “exceeding abundant” measure (v.14). He gave it with “faith” (v.14), the faith of Christ (Gal.2:16), who is faithful to give it to whosoever believes on Him. He gives it faithfully because of His “love” (v.14)