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George Lamsa Translation of the Peshitta
1 Timothy 3:16

Truly great is this divine mystery of righteousness: it is revealed in the flesh, justi- fied in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory.

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- Clarke Commentary;   Abbott's New Testament;   Coffman Commentaries;   Barne's Notes;   Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes;   Calvin's Commentary;   Cambridge Greek Testament;   Church Pulpit Commentary;   Chuck Smith Commentary;   Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible ;   Constable's Expository Notes;   Daily Study Bible;   Darby's Synopsis;   Dunagan Commentary;   Ellicott's Commentary;   Expositor's Greek Testament;   Family Bible New Testament;   Hole's Commentary;   Meyer's Commentary;   Gaebelein's Annotated;   Morgan's Biblical Exposition;   Gill's Exposition;   Godbey's NT Commentary;   Gary Hampton Commentary;   Everett's Study Notes;   Geneva Study Bible;   Alford's Commentary;   Haydock's Catholic Commentary;   Meyer's Commentary;   Mahan's Commentary;   The Bible Study New Testament;   Ironside's Notes;   Bengel's Gnomon;   Commentary Critical and Explanatory;   Commentary Critical and Explanatory - Unabridged;   The People's Bible;   Sutcliffe's Commentary;   Trapp's Commentary;   Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the Bible;   Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures;   Grant's Commentary;   Henry's Complete;   Henry's Concise;   Poole's Annotations;   Pett's Bible Commentary;   Peake's Bible Commentary;   Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary;   People's New Testament;   Benson's Commentary;   Robertson's Word Pictures;   Sermon Bible;   Schaff's New Testament Commentary;   Horae Homileticae;   Scofield's Notes;   Biblical Illustrator;   Coke's Commentary;   Expositor's Bible;   Pulpit Commentaries;   Treasury of Knowledge;   Vincent's Studies;   Burkitt's Notes;   Wesley's Notes;   Whedon's Commentary;  


- Nave's Topical Bible - Angel (a Spirit);   Gentiles;   Gospel;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Minister, Christian;   Mysteries;   Salvation;   Trinity;   Scofield Reference Index - Churches;   Holy Spirit;   Thompson Chain Reference - Christ;   Divine;   Divinity;   Divinity-Humanity;   Great;   Humanity, Christ's;   Incarnation;   Leaders;   Ministers;   Mysteries, Great;   Mysteries-Revelations;   Mystery of Christ;   Religious;   The Topic Concordance - Flesh;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Angels;  


- American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Godly;   Mystery;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Incarnation;   Jesus christ;   Mystery;   Paul;   Poetry;   Singing;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Appear, Appearance;   Ascension of Jesus Christ;   Body;   Church, the;   Holy Spirit;   Poetry;   Preach, Proclaim;   Spirits in Prison;   Timothy, First and Second, Theology of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Deacon;   Jesus Christ;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Flesh;   Godliness;   Incarnation;   Spirit;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Form;   Hymns;   Idol;   Immanuel;   John, the Epistles of;   Mystery;   Science;   Synagogue;   Zechariah, the Book of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Confessions and Credos;   Cross, Crucifixion;   Hymn;   Justification;   Religion;   1 Timothy;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Ascension;   Atonement;   Bishop;   Church;   Church Government;   Hymn;   Justification, Justify;   Timothy, Epistles to;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Angels;   Ascension;   Ascension (2);   Attributes of Christ;   Enoch Book of;   Flesh ;   Godliness;   Gospel;   Holy Spirit;   Hymns;   Justification;   Manifestation;   Mystery ;   Physical ;   Revelation (2);   Righteousness;   Timothy and Titus Epistles to;   World;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - God;   Godliness;   Mystery;   35 Revelation Appearing Manifestation;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Body;   Christ;   Mystery;  


- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ascension;   Controversy;   Eschatology of the New Testament;   Flesh;   Godliness;   Light;   Manifest;   Mystery;   Pastoral Epistles, the;   Person of Christ;   Plagues of Egypt;   Poetry, New Testament;   Praise;   Sacraments;   Worship;  


- Chip Shots from the Ruff of Life - Devotion for June 8;   Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for December 25;   Every Day Light - Devotion for December 1;  

Parallel Translations

The Amplified Bible
And great and important and weighty, we confess, is the hidden truth (the mystic secret) of godliness. He [ God] was made visible in human flesh, justified and vindicated in the [Holy] Spirit, was seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, [and] taken up in glory.

The Complete Jewish Bible
Great beyond all question is the formerly hidden truth underlying our faith: He was manifested physically and proved righteous spiritually, seen by angels and proclaimed among the nations, trusted throughout the world and raised up in glory to heaven.

American Standard Version
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; He who was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the spirit, Seen of angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.

Bible in Basic English
And without argument, great is the secret of religion: He who was seen in the flesh, who was given God's approval in the spirit, was seen by the angels, of whom the good news was given among the nations, in whom the world had faith, who was taken up in glory.

English Revised Version
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; He who was manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, received up in glory.

Contemporary English Version
Here is the great mystery of our religion: Christ came as a human. The Spirit proved that he pleased God, and he was seen by angels. Christ was preached to the nations. People in this world put their faith in him, and he was taken up to glory.

English Standard Version
Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

Darby's Translation
And confessedly the mystery of piety is great. God has been manifested in flesh, has been justified in [the] Spirit, has appeared to angels, has been preached among [the] nations, has been believed on in [the] world, has been received up in glory.

Easy-to-Read Version
Without any doubt, the secret of our life of worship is great: He (Christ) was shown to us in a human body; the Spirit proved that he was right; he was seen by angels. {The Good News about him} was preached to the nations (non-Jews); people in the world believed in him; he was taken up to heaven in glory.

The Geneva Bible (1587)
And without controuersie, great is the mysterie of godlinesse, which is, God is manifested in the flesh, iustified in the Spirit, seene of Angels, preached vnto the Gentiles, beleeued on in the world, and receiued vp in glorie.

The Bishop's Bible (1568)
And without doubt, great is that misterie of godlynesse: God was shewed in the flesshe, was iustified in the spirite, was seene among the angels, was preached vnto the gentiles, was beleued on in the worlde, and was receaued vp in glorie.

King James Version (1611)
And without controuersie, great is the mysterie of godlinesse: God was manifest in the flesh, iustified in the Spirit, seene of Angels, preached vnto the Gentiles, beleeued on in the world, receiued vp into glory.

New Revised Standard
Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great: He was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And evidently great is the mystery of godliness, which was manifested in the flesh, was justified in the spirit, appeared unto angels, hath been preached unto the Gentiles, is believed in the world, is taken up in glory.

New Century Version
Without doubt, the secret of our life of worship is great: He was shown to us in a human body, proved right in spirit, and seen by angels. He was preached to those who are not Jews, believed in by the world, and taken up in glory.

James Murdock Translation of the Peshitta
and truly great, is this mystery of righteousness, which was revealed in the flesh, and justified in the spirit, and seen by angels, and proclaimed among the Gentiles, and believed on in the world, and received up into glory.

Wesley's New Testament (1755)
The mystery of godliness is the pillar and ground of the truth, and without controversy a great thing: God was manifested in the flesh, was justified by the spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, taken up into glory.

Good News Translation
No one can deny how great is the secret of our religion: He appeared in human form, was shown to be right by the Spirit, and was seen by angels. He was preached among the nations, was believed in throughout the world, and was taken up to heaven.

Holman Christian Standard
And most certainly, the mystery of godliness is great:He was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

Miles Coverdale Bible (1535)
and without naye, greate is that mystery of godlynes. God was shewed in the flesh: was iustified in the sprete: was sene of angels: was preached vnto the Heythen: was beleued on in the worlde: was receaued vp in glory.

Mace New Testament (1729)
the mystery of piety is the pillar and basts of truth; and certainly most extraordinary. God has appear'd in the flesh, been justified by the spirit, seen by angels, proclaim'd to the Gentiles, believ'd by the world, and assum'd into glory.

J.P. Green Literal Translation
And confessedly, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in flesh, was justified in Spirit, was seen by angels, was proclaimed among nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

New King James
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.

New Living Translation
Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ appeared in the flesh and was shown to be righteous by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and was announced to the nations. He was believed on in the world and was taken up into heaven.

New International Version
Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit,[d] was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

King James Version
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

New American Standard Version
By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.

New Life Version
It is important to know the secret of Godlike living, which is: Christ came to earth as a Man. He was pure in His Spirit. He was seen by angels. The nations heard about Him. Men everywhere put their trust in Him. He was taken up into heaven.

Hebrew Names Version
Without controversy, the mystery of godliness is great: God was revealed in the flesh, Justified in the spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, And received up in glory.

International Standard Version
By common confession, the secret of our godly worship is great: In flesh was he revealed to sight, Kept righteous by the Spirit's might, Adored by angels singing. To nations was he manifest, Believing souls found peace and rest, Our Lord in heaven reigning!

John Etheridge Translation of the Peshitta
And truly great is this mystery of righteousness, [Kinutho.] which was revealed in the flesh, and justified by the Spirit, and seen of angels, and preached among the peoples, and believed in the world, and taken up into glory.

The Emphasised Bible
And, confessedly great, is the sacred secret of godliness, - Who was made manifest in flesh, was declared righteous in spirit, was made visible unto messengers, was proclaimed among nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.

Revised Standard Version
Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

Tyndale Bible
And with out naye great is that mistery of godlines: God was shewed in the flesshe was iustified in the sprete was sene of angels was preached vnto the gentyls was beleved on in erth and receaved vp in glory.

Updated Bible Version 1.9
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; He who was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the spirit, Seen of angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.

The Webster Bible
And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

World English Bible
Without controversy, the mystery of godliness is great: God was revealed in the flesh, Justified in the spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the nations, Believed on in the world, And received up in glory.

Weymouth New Testament
And, beyond controversy, great is the mystery of our religion-- that Christ appeared in human form, and His claims justified by the Spirit, was seen by angels and proclaimed among Gentile nations, was believed on in the world, and received up again into glory.

The Wycliffe Bible (1395)
And opynli it is a greet sacrament of pitee, that thing that was schewid in fleisch, it is iustified in spirit, it apperid to aungels, it is prechid to hethene men, it is bileuyd in the world, it is takun vp in glorie.

Young's Literal Translation
and, confessedly, great is the secret of piety -- God was manifested in flesh, declared righteous in spirit, seen by messengers, preached among nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory!

The Message
This Christian life is a great mystery, far exceeding our understanding, but some things are clear enough: He appeared in a human body, was proved right by the invisible Spirit, was seen by angels. He was proclaimed among all kinds of peoples, believed in all over the world, taken up into heavenly glory.

Lexham English Bible
And most certainly, great is the mystery of godliness: the Spirit, ,

Contextual Overview

14These things I write to you, although hoping to come to you shortly, 15So that if I am delayed, you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. 16Truly great is this divine mystery of righteousness: it is revealed in the flesh, justi- fied in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and received up into glory.

Verse Review

Treasury of Scripure Knowledge

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
Hebrews 7:7
the mystery
9; Matthew 13:11; Romans 16:25; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 1:9; 3:3-9; 6:19; Colossians 2:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:7; Revelation 17:5,7
Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; Jeremiah 23:5,6; Micah 5:2; Matthew 1:23; John 1:1,2,14; Acts 20:28; Romans 8:3; 9:5; 1 Corinthians 15:47; Galatians 4:4; Philippians 2:6-8; Colossians 1:16-18; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 2:9-13; 1 John 1:2; Revelation 1:17,18
Gr. manifested.
1 John 3:5
Isaiah 50:5-7; Matthew 3:16; John 1:32,33; 15:26; 16:8,9; Acts 2:32-36; Romans 1:3,4; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 5:6-8
Psalms 68:17,18; Matthew 4:11; 28:2; Mark 1:13; 16:5; Luke 2:10-14; 22:43; 24:4; John 20:12; Acts 1:10,11; Ephesians 3:10; 1 Peter 1:12
Luke 2:32; Acts 10:34; 13:46-48; Romans 10:12,18; Galatians 2:8; Ephesians 3:5-8; Colossians 1:27
Acts 14:27; Colossians 1:6,23; Revelation 7:9
Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; John 6:62; 13:3; 16:28; 17:5; Acts 1:1-9,19; Ephesians 4:8-10; Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22


Genesis 3:1
NOW the serpent was more subtle than all the wild beasts that the LORD God had made. And the serpent said to the woman, Truly has God said that you shall not eat of any tree of the garden?

Genesis 3:6
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and that the tree was delightful to look at, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and she also gave to her husband with her; and he did eat.

Genesis 3:7
Then the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Genesis 3:8
And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:9
And the LORD God called to Adam, and said to him, Where are you, Adam?

Genesis 3:10
And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and when I saw that I was naked, I hid myself.

Genesis 3:11
And the LORD God said to him, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?

Genesis 3:12
And Adam said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the fruit of the tree, and I did eat.

Genesis 3:16
To the woman he said, I will greatly multiply your pain and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children, and you shall be dependent on your husband, and he shall rule over you.

Genesis 3:17
And to Adam he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it, cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat the fruits of it all the days of your life;

Gill's Notes on the Bible

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness,.... What follows is so, the incarnation of Christ, his birth of a virgin, the union of the two natures, divine and human, in his person; this is a mystery, which though revealed, and so to be believed, is not to be discerned nor accounted for, nor the modus of it to be comprehended by reason: and it is a great one, next, if not equal, to the doctrine of a trinity of persons in the divine essence; and is a mystery of godliness, which tends to encourage internal and external religion, powerful and practical godliness in all the parts and branches of it; and is so beyond all dispute and doubt.

God was manifest in the flesh; not God essentially considered, or Deity in the abstract, but personally; and not the first nor the third Person; for of neither of them can this or the following things be said; but the second Person, the Word, or Son of God; see 1 John 3:8 who existed as a divine Person, and as a distinct one from the Father and Spirit, before his incarnation; and which is a proof of his true and proper deity: the Son of God in his divine nature is equally invisible as the Father, but became manifest by the assumption of human nature in a corporeal way, so as to be seen, heard, and felt: and by "flesh" is meant, not that part of the body only, which bears that name, nor the whole body only, but the whole human nature, consisting of a true body and a reasonable soul; so called, partly to denote the frailty of it, and to show that it was not a person, but a nature, Christ assumed; and the clause is added, not so much to distinguish this manifestation of Christ from a spiritual manifestation of him to his people, as in distinction from all other manifestations of him in the Old Testament, in an human form for a time, and in the cloud, both in the tabernacle and temple. This clause is a very apt and full interpretation of the word "Moriah", the name of the mount in which Jehovah would manifest himself, and be seen, Genesis 22:2.

Justified in the Spirit; either by the Spirit of God, making his human nature pure and holy, and preserving it from original sin and taint; and by descending on him at his baptism, thereby testifying that he was the Son of God; and by the miracles wrought by his power, which proved Jesus to be the Messiah against those that rejected him; and by his coming down upon the apostles at Pentecost; and who in their ministry vindicated him from all the aspersions cast upon him: or else it is to be understood of the divine nature of Christ, in distinction from his flesh or human nature; in the one he was manifest and put to death for the sins of his people, which were put upon him, and bore by him; and by the other he was quickened and declared to be the Son of God; and being raised from the dead, he was justified and acquitted from all the sins of his people, and they were justified in him; he having made full satisfaction to justice for them.

Seen of angels; meaning not ministers of the Gospel, and pastors of churches, who are sometimes so called; but the blessed spirits, the inhabitants of heaven: by these he was seen at his birth, who then descended and sung praise to God on that account; and in the wilderness, after he had been tempted by Satan, when they ministered unto him; and in the garden upon his agony and sweat there, when one appeared and strengthened him; and at his resurrection from the dead, who rolled away the stone from the sepulchre, and told the women he was risen from the dead; as also at his ascension to heaven, when they attended him thither in triumph; and now in heaven, where they wait upon him, and worship him, and are ministering spirits, sent forth by him to do his pleasure; and he is seen by them the ministry of the Gospel; into the truths of which they look with pleasure, and gaze upon with unutterable delight and admiration; especially those which respect the person and offices of Christ. Some copies read, "seen of men", but that is implied in the first clause:

preached unto the Gentiles; the worst of men, and that by the express orders of Christ himself; and which was foretold in the prophecies of the Old Testament, and yet was a mystery, hid from ages and generations past:

believed on in the world; among the Jews, and in the nations of the world, so that he was preached with success; and faith in Christ is the end of preaching; though this is not of a man's self, but is the gift of God, and the operation of his power: and it was a marvellous thing, considering the reproach and ignominy Christ lay under, through the scandal of the cross, that he should be believed on as he was. This can be ascribed to nothing else but to the power of God, which went along with the ministry of the word.

Received up into glory; he was raised from the dead, and had a glory put upon his risen body; he ascended in a glorious manner to heaven, in a cloud, and in chariots of angels, and was received there with a welcome by his Father; and is set down at his right hand, and crowned with glory and honour, and glorified with the glory he had with him before the world was.

Barnes' Notes on the Bible

And, without controversy - Undeniably, certainly. The object of the apostle is to say that the truth which he was about to state admitted of no dispute.

Great is the mystery - On the meaning of the word “mystery,” see the notes on 1 Corinthians 2:7. The word means that which had been hidden or concealed. The meaning here is not that the proposition which he affirms was mysterious in the sense that it was unintelligible, or impossible to be understood; but that the doctrine respecting the incarnation and the work of the Messiah, which had been so long “kept hidden” from the world, was a subject of the deepest importance. This passage, therefore, should not be used to prove that there is anything unintelligible, or anything that surpasses human comprehension, in that doctrine, whatever may be the truth on that point; but that the doctrine which he now proceeds to state, and which had been so long concealed from mankind, was of the utmost consequence.

Of godliness - The word “godliness” means, properly, piety, reverence, or religiousness. It is used here, however, for the gospel scheme, to wit, that which the apostle proceeds to state. This “mystery,” which had “been hidden from ages and from generations, and which was now manifest” Colossians 1:26, was the great doctrine on which depended “religion” everywhere, or was that which constituted the Christian scheme.

God - Probably there is no passage in the New Testament which has excited so much discussion among critics as this, and none in reference to which it is so difficult to determine the true reading. It is the only one, it is believed, in which the microscope has been employed to determine the lines of the letters used in a manuscript; and, after all that has been done to ascertain the exact truth in regard to it, still the question remains undecided. It is not the object of these notes to enter into the examination of questions of this nature. A full investigation may be found in Wetstein. The question which has excited so much controversy is, whether the original Greek word was Θεὸς Theos“God,” or whether it was ὅς hos“who,” or ὁ ho“which.” The controversy has turned, to a considerable degree, on the reading in the “Codex Alexandrinus;” and a remark or two on the method in which the manuscripts in the New Testament were written, will show the true nature of the controversy.

Greek manuscripts were formerly written entirely in capital letters, and without breaks or intervals between the words, and without accents; see a full description of the methods of writing the New Testament, in an article by Prof. Stuart in Dr. Robinson‘s Biblotheca Sacra, No. 2, pp. 254ff The small, cursive Greek letters which are now used, were not commonly employed in transcribing the New Testament, if at all, until the ninth or tenth centuries. It was a common thing to abridge or contract words in the manuscript. Thus, πρ would be used for πατερ pater“father;” κς for κυριος kurios“Lord;” Θς for Θεος Theos“God,” etc. The words thus contracted were designated by a faint line or dash over them. In this place, therefore, if the original uncials (capitals) were Θ ¯C¯, standing for Θεὸς Theos“God,” and the line in the Θ , and the faint line over it, were obliterated from any cause, it would easily be mistaken for OC - ὅς hos- “who.”

To ascertain which of these is the true reading, has been the great question; and it is with reference to this that the microscope has been resorted to in the examination of the Alexandrian manuscript. It is now generally admitted that the faint line “over” the word has been added by some later hand, though not improbably by one who found that the line was nearly obliterated, and who meant merely to restore it. Whether the letter O was originally written with a line within it, making the reading “God,” it is now said to be impossible to determine, in consequence of the manuscript at this place having become so much worn by frequent examination. The Vulgate and the Syriac read it: “who,” or “which.” The Vulgate is, “Great is the sacrament of piety which was manifested in the flesh.” The Syriac, “Great is the mystery of godliness, that he was manifested in the flesh.” The “probability” in regard to the correct reading here, as it seems to me, is, that the word, as originally written, was Θεός Theos- “God.” At the same time, however, the evidence is not so clear that it can be properly used in an argument. But the passage is not “necessary” to prove the doctrine which is affirmed, on the supposition that that is the correct reading. The same truth is abundantly taught elsewhere; compare Matthew 1:23; John 1:14.

Was manifest - Margin, “Manifested.” The meaning is, “appeared” in the flesh.

In the flesh - In human nature; see this explained in the notes on Romans 1:3. The expression here looks as though the true reading of the much-disputed word was “God.” It could not have been, it would seem evident, ὁ ho“which,” referring to “mystery;” for how could a mystery “be manifested in the flesh?” Nor could it it be ὅς hos“who,” unless that should refer to one who was more than a man; for how absurd would it be to say that “a man was manifested, or appeared in the flesh!” How else could a man appear? The phrase here means that God appeared in human form, or with human nature; and this is declared to be the “great” truth so long concealed from human view, but now revealed as constituting the fundamental doctrine of the gospel. The expressions which follow in this verse refer to God “as” thus manifested in the flesh; to the Saviour as he appeared on earth, regarded as a divine and human being. It was the fact that he thus appeared and sustained this character, which made the things which are immediately specified so remarkable, and so worthy of attention.

Justified in the Spirit - That is, the incarnate person above referred to; the Redeemer, regarded as God and man. The word “Spirit,” here, it is evident, refers to the Holy Spirit, because:

(1) it is not possible to attach any intelligible idea to the phrase, “he was justified by his own spirit, or soul;”

(2) as the Holy Spirit performed so important a part in the work of Christ, it is natural to suppose there would be some allusion here to him; and,

(3) as the “angels” are mentioned here as having been with him, and as the Holy Spirit is often mentioned in connection with him, it is natural to suppose that there would be some allusion to Him here. The word “justified,” here, is not used in the sense in which it is when applied to Christians, but in its more common signification. It means to “vindicate,” and the sense is, that he was shown to be the Son of God by the agency of the Holy Spirit; he was thus vindicated from the charges alleged against him. The Holy Spirit furnished the evidence that he was the Son of God, or “justified” his claims. Thus he descended on him at his baptism, Matthew 3:16; he was sent to convince the world of sin because it did not believe on him, John 16:8-9; the Saviour cast out devils by him, Matthew 12:28; the Spirit was given to him without measure, John 3:34, and the Spirit was sent down in accordance with his promise, to convert the hearts of people; Acts 2:33. All the manifestations of God to him; all the power of working miracles by his agency; all the influences imparted to the man Christ Jesus, endowing him with such wisdom as man never had before, may be regarded as an attestation of the Holy Spirit to the divine mission of the Lord Jesus, and of course as a vindication from all the charges against him. In like manner, the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, and his agency in the conversion of every sinner, prove the same thing, and furnish the grand argument in vindication of the Redeemer that he was sent from God. To this the apostle refers as a part of the glorious truth of the Christian scheme now revealed - the “mystery of religion;” as a portion of the amazing records, the memory of which the church was to preserve as connected with the redemption of the world.

Seen of angels - They were attendants on his ministry, and came to him in times of distress, peril, and want; compare Luke 2:9-13; Luke 22:43; Luke 24:4; Hebrews 1:6; Matthew 4:11. They felt an interest in him and his work, and they gladly came to him in his sorrows and troubles. The design of the apostle is to give an impressive view of the grandeur and glory of that work which attracted the attention of the heavenly hosts, and which drew them from the skies that they might proclaim his advent, sustain him in his temptations, witness his crucifixion, and watch over him in the tomb. The work of Christ, though despised by people, excited the deepest interest in heaven; compare notes on 1 Peter 1:12.

Preached unto the Gentiles - This is placed by the apostle among the “great” things which constituted the “mystery” of religion. The meaning is, that it was a glorious truth that salvation might be, and should be, proclaimed to all mankind, and that this was a part of the important truths made known in the gospel. Elsewhere this is called, by way of eminence, “the mystery of the gospel;” that is, the grand truth which had not been known until the coming of the Saviour; see the Ephesians 6:19 note; Colossians 1:26-27; Colossians 4:3 notes. Before his coming, a wall of partition had divided the Jewish and Gentile world. The Jews regarded the rest of mankind as excluded from the covenant mercies of God, and it was one of the principal stumblingblocks in their way, in regard to the gospel, that it proclaimed that all the race was on a level, that that middle wall of partition was broken down, and that salvation might now be published to all people; compare Acts 22:21; Ephesians 2:14-15; Romans 3:22; Romans 10:11-20.

The Jew had no special advantage for salvation by being a Jew; the Gentile was not excluded from the hope of salvation. The plan of redemption was adapted “to man” as such - without regard to his complexion, country, customs, or laws. The blood of Christ was shed for all, and wherever a human being could be found, salvation might be freely offered him. This “is” a glorious truth; and taken in all its bearings, and in reference to the views which then prevailed, and which have always more or less prevailed about the distinctions made among people by caste and rank, there is scarcely anymore glorious truth connected with the Christian revelation, or one which will exert a wider influence in promoting the welfare of man. It is a great privilege to be permitted to proclaim that all people, in one respect - and that the most important - are on a level; that they are all equally the objects of the divine compassion; that Christ died for one as really as for another; that birth, wealth, elevated rank, or beauty of complexion, contribute nothing to the salvation of one man; and that poverty, a darker skin, slavery, or a meaner rank, do nothing to exclude another from the favor of his Maker.

Believed on in the world - This also is mentioned among the “great” things which constitute the mystery of revealed religion. But why is this regarded as so remarkable as to be mentioned thus? In point of importance, how can it be mentioned in connection with the fact that God was manifest in the flesh; that he was vindicated by the Holy Spirit; that he was an object of intense interest to angelic hosts, and that his coming had broken down the walls which had separated the world, and placed them now on a level? I answer, perhaps the following circumstances may have induced the apostle to place this among the remarkable things evincing the greatness of this truth:

(1) The strong “improbability” arising from the greatness of the “mystery,” that the doctrines respecting the incarnate Deity would be believed. Such is the incomprehensible nature of many of the truths connected with the incarnation; so strange does it seem that God would become incarnate; so amazing that he should appear in human flesh and blood, and that the incarnate Son of God should die, that it might be regarded as a wonderful thing that such a doctrine had in fact obtained credence in the world. But it was a glorious truth that all the natural improbabilities in the case had been overcome, and that people had accredited the announcement.

(2) the strong improbability that his message would be believed, arising from the “wickedness of the human heart.” Man, in all his history, had shown a strong reluctance to believe any message from God, or any truth whatever revealed by him. The Jews had rejected his prophets and put them to death John 17:5; see the notes on Acts 1:9. This is mentioned as among the “great” or remarkable things pertaining to “godliness,” or the Christian revelation, because it was an event which had not elsewhere occurred, and was the crowning grandeur of the work of Christ. It was an event that was fitted to excite the deepest interest in heaven itself. No event of more importance has ever occurred in the universe, of which we have any knowledge, than the re-ascension of the triumphant Son of God to glory after having accomplished the redemption of a world.

In view of the instructions of this chapter, we may make the following remarks.

1. The word “bishop” in the New Testament never means what is now commonly understood by it - “a Prelate.” It does not denote here, or anywhere else in the Now Testament, one who has charge over a “diocese” composed of a certain district of country, embracing a number of churches with their clergy.

2. There are not “three orders” of clergy in the New Testament. The apostle Paul in this chapter expressly designates the characteristics of those who should have charge of the church, but mentions only two, “bishops” and “deacons.” The former are ministers of the word, having charge of the spiritual interests of the church; the other are deacons, of whom there is no evidence that they were appointed to preach. There is no “third” order. There is no allusion to anyone who was to be “superior” to the “bishops” and “deacons.” As the apostle Paul was expressly giving instructions in regard to the organization of the church, such an omission is unaccountable if he supposed there was to be an order of “prelates” in the church. Why is there no allusion to them? Why is there no mention of their qualifications? If Timothy was himself a prelate, was he to have nothing to do in transmitting the office to others? Were there no special qualifications required in such an order of people which it would be proper to mention? Would it not be “respectful,” at least, in Paul to have made some allusion to such an office, if Timothy himself held it?

3. There is only one order of preachers in the church. The qualifications of that order are specified with great minuteness and particularity, as well as beauty; 1 Timothy 3:2-7. No man really needs to know more of the qualifications for this office than could be learned from a prayerful study of this passage.

4. A man who enters the ministry “ought” to have high qualifications; 1 Timothy 3:2-7. No man “ought,” under any pretence, to be put into the ministry who has not the qualifications here specified. Nothing is gained in any department of human labor, by appointing incompetent persons to fill it. A farmer gains nothing by employing a man on his farm who has no proper qualifications for his business; a carpenter, a shoemaker, or a blacksmith, gains nothing by employing a man who knows nothing about his trade; and a neighborhood gains nothing by employing a man as a teacher of a school who has no qualifications to teach, or who has a bad character. Such a man would do more mischief on a farm, or in a workshop, or in a school, than all the good which he could do would compensate. And so it is in the ministry. The true object is not to increase the “number” of ministers, it is to increase the number of those who are “qualified” for their work, and if a man has not the qualifications laid down by the inspired apostle, he had better seek some other calling.

5. The church is the guardian of the truth; 1 Timothy 3:15. It is appointed to preserve it pure, and to transmit it to future ages. The world is dependent on it for any just views of truth. The church has the power, and is entrusted with the duty, of preserving on earth a just knowledge of God and of eternal things; of the way of salvation; of the requirements of pure morality: to keep up the knowledge of that truth which tends to elevate society and to save man. It is entrusted with the Bible, to preserve uncorrupted, and to transmit to distant ages and lands. It is bound to maintain and assert the truth in its creeds and confessions of faith. And it is to preserve the truth by the holy lives of its members, and to show in their walk what is the appropriate influence of truth on the soul. Whatever religious truth there is now on the earth, has been thus preserved and transmitted, and it still devolves on the church to bear the truth of God on to future times, and to diffuse it abroad to distant lands.

6. The closing verse of this chapter 1 Timothy 3:16 gives us a most elevated view of the plan of salvation. and of its grandeur and glory. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to condense more interesting and sublime thought into so narrow a compass as this. The great mystery of the incarnation; the interest of angelic beings in the events of redemption; the effect of the gospel on the pagan world; the tendency of the Christian religion to break down every barrier among people, and to place all the race on a level; its power in overcoming the unbelief of mankind; and the re-ascension of the Son of God to heaven, present a series of most wonderful facts to our contemplation. These things are found in no other system of religion, and these are worthy of the profound attention of every human being. The manifestation of God in the flesh! What a thought! It was worthy of the deepest interest among the angels, and it “claims” the attention of people, for it was for human beings and not for angels that he thus appeared in human form; compare notes on 1 Peter 1:12.

7. How strange it is that “man” feels no more interest in these things! God was manifest in the flesh for his salvation, but he does not regard it Angels looked upon it with wonder: but man, for whom he came, feels little interest in his advent or his work! The Christian religion has broken down the barrier among nations, and has proclaimed that all people may be saved; yet the mass of people look on this with entire unconcern. The Redeemer ascended to heaven, having finished his great work; but how little interest do the mass of mankind feel in this! He will come again to judge the world; but the race moves on, regardless of this truth; unalarmed at the prospect of meeting him; feeling no interest in the assurance that he “has” come and died for sinners, and no apprehension in view of the fact that he will come again, and that they must stand at his bar. All heaven was moved with his first advent, and will be with his second; but the earth regards it with unconcern. Angelic beings look upon this with the deepest anxiety, though they have no personal interest in it; man, though all his great interests are concentrated on it, regards it as a fable, disbelieves it all, and treats it with contempt and scorn. Such is the difference between heaven and earth - angels and human beings!

Clarke's Notes on the Bible

And, without controversy - Και ὁμολογουμενες· And confessedly, by general consent, it is a thing which no man can or ought to dispute; any phrase of this kind expresses the meaning of the original.

God was manifest in the flesh - If we take in the whole of the 14th, 15th, and 16th verses, we may make a consistent translation in the following manner, and the whole paragraph will stand thus: Hoping to see thee shortly; but should I tarry long, these things I now write unto thee, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God. The mystery of godliness, which is the pillar and ground of the truth, is, without controversy, a great thing. And then he proceeds to show what this mystery of godliness is, which he sums up in the six following particulars:

  1. God was manifest in the flesh;
  • Justified in the Spirit;
  • Seen of angels;
  • Preached unto the Gentiles;
  • Believed on in the world;
  • Received up into glory.
  • Though all this makes a very plain and consistent sense, yet we are perplexed by various readings on the first clause, Θεος εφανερωθη εν σαρκι, God was manifest in the flesh; for instead of Θεος, God, several MSS., versions, and fathers, have ὁς or ὁ, who or which. And this is generally referred to the word mystery; Great is the mystery of godliness, Which was manifest in the flesh.

    The insertion of, Θεος for ὁς, or ὁς for Θεος, may be easily accounted for. In ancient times the Greek was all written in capitals, for the common Greek character is comparatively of modern date. In these early times words of frequent recurrence were written contractedly, thus: for πατηρ, πρ; Θεος, θς; Κυριος, κς· Ιησους, ιης, etc. This is very frequent in the oldest MSS., and is continually recurring in the Codex Bexae, and Codex Alexandrinus. If, therefore, the middle stroke of the Θ, in ΘΣ, happened to be faint, or obliterated, and the dash above not very apparent, both of which I have observed in ancient MSS., then ΘΣ, the contraction for Θεος, God, might be mistaken for ΟΣ, which or who; and vice versa. This appears to have been the case in the Codex Alexandrinus, in this passage. To me there is ample reason to believe that the Codex Alexandrinus originally read ΘΣ, God, in this place; but the stroke becoming faint by length of time and injudicious handling, of which the MS. in this place has had a large proportion, some person has supplied the place, most reprehensibly, with a thick black line. This has destroyed the evidence of this MS., as now it can neither be quoted pro or con, though it is very likely that the person who supplied the ink line, did it from a conscientious conviction that ΘΣ was the original reading of this MS. I examined this MS. about thirty years ago, and this was the conviction that rested then on my mind. I have seen the MS. several times since, and have not changed my opinion. The enemies of the Deity of Christ have been at as much pains to destroy the evidence afforded by the common reading in support of this doctrine as if this text were the only one by which it can be supported; they must be aware that John 1:1, and John 1:14, proclaim the same truth; and that in those verses there is no authority to doubt the genuineness of the reading. We read, therefore, God was manifested in the flesh, and I cannot see what good sense can be taken out of, the Gospel was manifested in the flesh; or, the mystery of godliness was manifested in the flesh. After seriously considering this subject in every point of light, I hold with the reading in the commonly received text.

    Justified in the Spirit - By the miracles which were wrought by the apostle in and through the name of Jesus; as well as by his resurrection from the dead, through the energy of the Holy Ghost, by which he was proved to be the Son of God with power. Christ was, justified from all the calumnies of the Jews, who crucified him as an impostor. All these miracles, being wrought by the power of God, were a full proof of his innocence; for, had he not been what he professed to be, God would not have borne such a decisive testimony to his Messiahship.

    Seen of angels - By αγγελοι here, some understand not those celestial or infernal beings commonly called angels, but apostles and other persons who became messengers, to carry far and wide and attest the truth of his resurrection from the dead. If, however, we take the word seen, in its Jewish acceptation, for made known, we may here retain the term angels in its common acceptation; for it is certain that previously to our Lord's ascension to heaven, these holy beings could have little knowledge of the necessity, reasons, and economy of human salvation; nor of the nature of Christ as God and man. St. Peter informs us that the angels desire to look into these things, 1 Peter 1:12. And St. Paul says the same thing, Ephesians 3:9, Ephesians 3:10, when speaking of the revelation of the Gospel plan of salvation, which he calls the mystery, which From the Beginning of the World had been Hid in God; and which was now published, that unto the Principalities and Powers in heavenly places might be Made Known, by the Church, the manifold wisdom of God. Even those angelic beings have got an accession to their blessedness, by an increase of knowledge in the things which concern Jesus Christ, and the whole scheme of human salvation, through his incarnation, passion, death, resurrection, ascension, and glorification.

    Preached unto the Gentiles - This was one grand part of the mystery which had been hidden in God, that the Gentiles should be made fellow heirs with the Jews, and be admitted into the kingdom of God. To the Gentiles, therefore, he was proclaimed as having pulled down the middle wall of partition between them and the Jews; that, through him, God had granted unto them repentance unto life; and that they also might have redemption in his blood, the forgiveness of sins.

    Believed on in the world - Was received by mankind as the promised Messiah, the Anointed of God, and the only Savior of fallen man. This is a most striking part of the mystery of godliness, that one who was crucified as a malefactor, and whose kingdom is not of this world, and whose doctrines are opposed to all the sinful propensities of the human heart, should, wherever his Gospel is preached, be acknowledged as the only Savior of sinners, and the Judge of quick and dead! But some would restrict the meaning to the Jews, whose economy is often denominated הזה עולם olam hazzeh, this world, and which words both our Lord and the apostles often use in the same sense. Notwithstanding their prejudices, many even of the Jews believed on him; and a great company of the priests themselves, who were his crucifiers, became obedient to the faith. Acts 6:7. This was an additional proof of Christ's innocence.

    Received up into glory - Even that human nature which he took of the Virgin Mary was raised, not only from the grave, but taken up into glory, and this in the most visible and palpable manner. This is a part of the mystery of godliness which, while we have every reasonable evidence to believe, we have not powers to comprehend. His reception into glory is of the utmost consequence to the Christian faith; as, in consequence, Jesus Christ in his human nature ever appears before the throne as our sacrifice and as our Mediator.

    1. The directions given in this chapter concerning bishops and deacons should be carefully weighed by every branch of the Christian Church. Not only the offices which are of Divine appointment, such as bishop, presbyter, and deacon, should be most religiously preserved in the Church; but, that they may have their full effect, the persons exercising them should be such as the apostle prescribes. Religion will surely suffer, when religious order is either contemned or neglected; and even the words of God will be treated with contempt, if ministered by unholy persons. Let order, therefore, be duly observed; and let those who fill these orders be not only wholly irreprehensible in their conduct, but also able ministers of the new covenant. A wicked man can neither have, nor communicate, authority to dispense heavenly mysteries; and a fool, or a blockhead, can never teach others the way of salvation. The highest abilities are not too great for a preacher of the Gospel; nor is it possible that he can have too much human learning. But all is nothing unless he can bring the grace and Spirit of God into all his ministrations; and these will never accompany him unless he live in the spirit of prayer and humility, fearing and loving God, and hating covetousness.
  • It is well known that almost every Church supposes itself to be The true Church; and some consider themselves the only Church, and deny salvation to all who are not of their communion. To such a Church the two last verses in this chapter have been confidently self-applied, as being the pillar and ground of the truth - the possessor and dispenser of all the mysteries of God. But, supposing that the words in 1 Timothy 3:15; are spoken of the Church, it is the Christian Church, as defined under article the third above, that must be meant; and we may see from this the vanity of applying the words to any particular Church, as if it had all the truth without error, and none else could pretend either to truth or ecclesiastical authority. The Christian Church is a widely different thing; it is the whole system of Christianity as laid down in the New Testament; it is built on the great foundation of prophets and apostles, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. It is composed of all who hold the doctrines of Christianity; who acknowledge Jesus as their Teacher, Redeemer, and only Advocate; of all who love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and their neighbor as themselves; or who are labouring after this conformity to the mind and command of their Creator. It is not known by any particular name; it is not distinguished by any particular form in its mode of worship; it is not exclusively here or there. It is the house of God - it is where God's Spirit dwells, where his precepts are obeyed, and where pure, unadulterated love to God and man prevails. It is not in the creed or religious confessions of any denomination of Christians; for, as all who hold the truth and live a holy life, acknowledging Jesus alone as the head of the Church and Savior of the world, are members of his mystical body; (and such may be found in all sects and parties); so the Church of Christ may be said to be everywhere, and to be confined nowhere; i.e. in whatever place Christianity is credited and acknowledged. The wicked of all sorts, no matter what their profession may be, and all persecutors of religious people, who differ from them, are without the pale of this Church. Essentially must their spirit and conduct be changed, before the living Head of this spiritual building can acknowledge them as members of the heavenly family.
  • This text, therefore, will never apply to the Romish Church, till that Church be, both in doctrine and discipline, what the Christian Church should be. When it is the established religion of any country it gives no toleration to those who differ from it; and in Protestant countries its cry for toleration and secular authority is loud and long. I wish its partisans the full and free exercise of their religion, even to its superstitions and nonsense; but how can they expect toleration who give none? The Protestant Church tolerates it fully; it persecutes the Protestants to bonds and death when it has power; which then is the true Church of Christ?

    Copyright Statement:
    George Lamsa Translation of the Peshitta

    Lectionary Calendar
    Sunday, August 18th, 2019
    the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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