A Jewish tax collector for the Roman government, Matthew forsook his lucrative office to become a follower of Jesus Christ.  One of the first things he did was to prepare a sumptuous banquet to which he invited Jesus and the other disciples.  He also invited many of his old tax collecting buddies.  When the hyper-separatists Jewish sect called Pharisees heard of this they criticized Jesus to His disciples, "How is it that he eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners.?"   When Jesus heard it He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance"   Mark 2:16, 17.

When Jesus made His last journey to Jerusalem He passed through Jericho.  As He entered the city He mercifully gave sight to a blind beggar.  As a result a crown gathered and followed Him.  Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, greatly desired to see Jesus, but because he was short and the crowd was large he could not.  Throwing his dignity to the winds he ran ahead and climbed a tree in order to just catch a glimpse of Jesus.  When Jesus came to the tree He stopped and looked up at Zacchaeus and said, "Zacchaeus, make hast and come down, for today I must stay at your house."  For doing so Jesus was once again highly criticized.  His answer was, "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."  Luke 19:5, 10.


The apostle Paul conformed "a faithful saying" that had become a widely held article of faith among the early churches:  "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners..."  1st Timothy 1:15.

The early churches found it helpful to record "faith sayings."  It took some sixty years for all the New Testament Scriptures to be written and even longer for them to be dispersed to believers throughout the nations.  God's provision for this was prophets who spoke New Testament revelation in the local churches.  Christians in these early churches coined certain sayings from these revelations which comprised what we might call a doctrinal statement.  The apostle Paul seems to infer that some of these sayings were tainted with error, but there was one worthy of universal acceptance, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners..."

This faithful saying met every test for divine revelation.  It was to be held firm in the churches and proclaimed boldly to a world of sinners.  The chief reason Jesus left the glory of heaven to enter the human family was to offer Himself as a sacrifice for all sin in order that sinners might be saved.  No one is to change this truth; reduce it to a lesser importance, or replace it with any other teaching.  Let us take a very close look at this statement.


"Christ" is a Greek word meaning "the anointed One".  It is the equivalent of the Hebrew word, "Messiah".  Throughout the Old Testament we find that when anyone was to be set apart as a prophet, priest, or king, they were anointed with oil.  Jesus was prophesied to be Prophet, Priest, and King:

Jesus fulfilled the office of Prophet not only by speaking the Word of God but by being the living Word of God. (See John 1:1, 2, 14).

Jesus began to fulfill His office as Priest by offering Himself as a sacrifice for mankind's sin on the cross.  He continues as Priest by being the "one Mediator between God and men..."  (Hebrews 2:9; 9:11, 12, 14, 15, 27, 28; 10:10-14; 1st Timothy 2:5). 

During the church age Jesus is gathering citizens for His kingdom.  Those who receive a spiritual birth by the Holy Spirit will both see and enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 5-7).  Jesus will return to this earth as King of kings and Lord of lords and rule over the nations of the world. (Revelation 19:11-16; 20:4-7).

Jesus was clearly prophesied to be anointed by God as King (Psalm 45:6, 7) and as Prophet (Isaiah 61:1-3).  He was declared a Priest by the oath of God (Psalm 110:1-4).


It was an "angel of the Lord" who informed Joseph that the child with which Mary was pregnant was "of the Holy Spirit".  The angel went on to instruct Joseph, "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS for He will save His people from their sins."  (Matthew 1:20, 21).  The Greek word for our English Jesus is Iesous (pronounced ee-ay-sooce).  It is the equivalent of the Hebrew word Jehoshua which is usually written "Joshua" in English.  It means "Jehovah/Salvation."  The meaning is that in Jesus we have Jehovah in a human body for the purpose of saving all who will place their faith in Him to save them from their sins.

It is no coincidence that the climax of all four gospels is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This is a powerful message that Jesus received the punishment for the sin of mankind on the cross and rose again "To save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him..."  (Hebrews 2:9; 7:25).


It could not be said of any other descendant of Adam and Eve that "they came into the world" for their conception was the beginning of their existence.  The fleshly nature of Jesus began when the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and the power of the Highest overshadowed her. (Luke 1:35).  The spiritual nature of Jesus had no beginning for He had existed from eternity.  "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2.  See also Isaiah 7:14; 9:6, 7; 6:1-4, 9 With John 12:37-41; Philippians 2:5-8)  When Jesus was born Mary could hold and look into the eyes of a sweet baby  boy.  Incarnated within that tiny body was the eternally existent Son of God.


The words, "save" and "saved" are common New Testament words.  "Save" appears 38 times and "saved", 57 times in the sense of "deliverance and preservation."  Both are translations of the same Greek word sozo, so we are looking at a total of 95 times the Holy Spirit employs this word by the writers of the New Testament.  The truly sad thing is that there are tens of thousands of "Christian" churches where these words are rarely or never heard.  How can these churches be properly representing Christ when the Scriptures manifestly state that the purpose of His coming was "to save sinners."

The means by which Jesus saves sinners is: 
1.  God "made Him (Jesus)  who knew no sin to be sin for us..."(2nd Corinthians 5:21).  Isaiah prophesied this over 700 years in advance with these words, "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities..."  (Isaiah 53:5).
2.  Jesus clothes sinners with His righteousness the instant they accept His sacrifice for their sin and sincerely trust Him as their Savior.  "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness..." (Romans 10:10).  "...We become the righteousness of God in Him."  (2nd Corinthians 5:21).
3.  The Holy Spirit gives us a spiritual birth by which our spirit is made alive to God and in the fullest sense we become the sons and daughters of God.  "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."  (John 3:6).  "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing..." (John 6:63).  "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father'.  The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God'"  (Romans 8:14, 15).
4.  Jesus comes to live within us to enable us to be what we should be and do what we should do. "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love Him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."  (John 14:23).  "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them (false spirits), because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."  (1st John 4:4)

Notice that Jesus saves sinners.  We note that in the gospel records Jesus turned away those who were trusting their goodness, religion, or good works to make them acceptable to God:

Nicodemus came to Jesus by night.  He spoke respectfully to Jesus but his words revealed a latent smugness that he and his peers possessed the position, knowledge, and authority to examine Jesus and pass judgment on Him.  Jesus answered sharply, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

The rich young ruler felt he had kept all the commandments of God and hoped this would qualify him to inherit eternal life.  Jesus told him he lacked one thing, and demonstrated that he was in the iron grip of covetousness.  (Luke 18:18-25).

Jesus told of a Pharisee who thanked God that he was perfectly righteous in every aspect of his life, and a tax collector who had so many things wrong that he was a despised outcast.  Jesus said the tax collector humbled himself and begged God to be merciful to him as a sinner.  Jesus decreed that the tax collector went home justified before God rather than the self-righteous Pharisee. (Luke 18:9-14).

On the other hand we note there was not one time Jesus turned away those who took their place as sinners seeking pardon from sin and salvation of their souls.  Some that readily come to mind are the woman of Samaria in John 4; the sinful (Make that immoral) woman who washed His feet with her tears and dried them with here hair (Luke 7:37-50) and the thief who died beside Jesus on a cross (Luke 23:40-43).

The apostle Paul spent much of his life in the confidence that he was blameless concerning the righteousness required by the law (Philippians 3:4).  Yet, it was only when his spiritual eyes were opened and he took his place as "the chief of sinners" that he came into a true relationship with God.

We do will to understand that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; take our place as a sinner and trust Jesus Christ to save us from the condemnation of God's law and bring us into the family of God.