The Mystery Of Godliness
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The Mystery Of Godliness
By, James L. Thornton
1 Timothy 3:16. “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.”
At first glance it would seem that this verse is out of place. The setting is a chapter which deals with the office of Bishops and Deacons. Paul set forth their qualifications and obligations.
He speaks about the faults and virtues of their character. He speaks of the proper state of their families. The verse previous to our text (v 15) teaches us that there are no trifles (trivial, or slight things) in the House Of God.
1 Timothy 3:15. “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
In this verse Paul stresses the value of truth. Truth is in this world but it finds no sure resting place, and without a support it will sink until it has disappeared. The Church Of The Living God is The Pillar And Ground Of The Truth. The Church must be sound and serviceable for its appointed purpose.
Then in verse 16 out of the clear blue (it seems) Paul begins to speak of the mystery of Godliness. He tells us it is a body of truth originally hidden from man’s knowledge, and man by his own unaided reason and abilities would never be able to find the find it out.
‘Mystery’ is a pagan word borrowed by Paul. Today the word has lost its original meaning. Its original meaning was a revelation to only a chosen few. But this mystery is revealed to all mankind. The disciples were not philosophers, but were teachable fishermen, tax-collectors, and ordinary men.
This ‘mystery’ is “so plain that a wayfaring man, tho a fool shall not err therein” (Isaiah 35:8). But, “it is hid from the wise and prudent, but revealed to babes” (Matthew 11:25). This mystery is the revelation of God himself.
It is God manifested in the flesh. If the person spoken of had had no existence before his birth, then this would have been an unnatural statement. You don’t speak og the birth of a baby as being “manifested in the flesh,” because that child did not exist before his conception and birth. Both soul and body are new.
Jesus existed before His birth, so He alone can say that He was “manifested in the flesh.” The word “manifested” means “made known.” Many Old Testament saints saw His glory. He appeared many times as “The Angel Of The Lord.” Which was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus.
The scriptures tells us, “He was in the beginning with God, and by him all things were made” (John 1:2-3).
Paul tells us concerning Jesus, “Being made of a woman, made under the law” (Galatians 4:4). John tells us that “The Word, “which was God” John 1;1, Was made flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
No man nor angel could bring forth the perfection of God, great as many of them were, so God was revealed in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. “In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2: 9).
Jesus said, “He that seeth Me seeth Him that sent Me” (John 12:45). “Jesus saith unto him (Phillip), Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake” (John 14:9-11).
“I and My Father are one” (John 10:30).
Philippians 2:5. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Happy are ye to whom this greatest of mysteries has been revealed, God manifested in the flesh.
By, James L. Thornton