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1 Tim. 1:12-15

12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;

13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy , because I did [it] ignorantly in unbelief.

14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

15 This [is] a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

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Paul WAS a blasphemer and persecutor of Christians and Christianity.  He longer does that.   But like all Christians; we are still sinners.  And each of us should consider ourselves "the chief sinner", holding ourselves not above any other.
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Present or past tense did not necessarily mean to convey the time of the things in the Bible. We need to remember how the Bible is full of idioms and fiure of speech. Present language often conveys conceptual things or truths. Paul did not call himself the worst sinner but that he was the worst sinner to have been saved. Maybe this was a popular saying among the churches about Paul that "Christ came to save the sinners of whom Paul was or is the worst (sinner saved)".
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