The Mystery of Godliness - 1 Timothy 3

The Mystery of Godliness

1 Timothy 3:1-16

Christians just love John 3:16.  For many believers it's their favorite verse.  Today we are going to fix our thoughts upon 1 Timothy 3:16, one the greatest, most profound verses about God in the Bible.  The theme of the verse is "the mystery of godliness."  A New Testament mystery was not something mysterious.  It was a truth unknown in the past, but now revealed.  See Ephesians 3:4, 5 for an example of this.

The mystery of godliness is about God.  Some Bible teachers believe that the quotation in this verse was an excerpt from a hymn in the early church.  It does appear to be a quotation, but it's source is uncertain.  Six important doctrinal truths are clearly expressed.

First, "God was manifested in the flesh."  This is a reference to the incarnation.  In John 1:14 we read, "And the Word (Jesus Christ) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father...."  A heresy known as Docetic Gnosticism, which denied this teaching, had crept into the early church.  The apostle John addressed it in 1 John 4:1-3. 

Second, God was "justified in the Spirit."  The NIV is better translated, "vindicated by the Spirit."  The subject is resurrection.  Jesus Christ was "declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead."  Romans 1:4.  The Lord was "put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit."  1 Peter 3:18.

Third, God was "seen by angels."  Here we have an observation.  They witnessed His birth, His temptation, His Gethsemane prayer, His resurrection, and His ascension.  During the temptation of Jesus, Satan quoted Psalm 91:11, "For He shall give His angels charge over you...."

Fourth, God was "preached among the Gentiles."  Jesus had commanded, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."  Mark 16:15.  The primary ministry of the church was evangelization of the lost.

Fifth, God was "believed on in the world."  Here we have salvation through faith in Christ.  We are saved by believing.  "The gospel of the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes."  Romans 1:16.

Sixth, God was "received up in glory."  Ascension!  In John 20:17 Jesus said, "I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God."  He was not only raised from the dead by the Spirit.  God also "seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion...."  Ephesians 1:20, 21.

For the Christian the mystery of godliness is truly "great" and "without controversy."


Lord, thank You for revealing Yourself to us.  How simple is the truth of Your Word!  Lead us in Your truth and teach us, for You are the great God of our salvation.  In Jesus' name.  Amen!


A Good Servant of Jesus Christ - 1 Timothy 4


All About God

Scripture taken from the
New King James Version.
Copyright ©
1979, 1980, 1982
by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Used by Permission.
All rights reserved.

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