The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
March 10, 2013


1) 1 Timothy 3:14-16 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


1 Timothy 3:14-16
by Tom Edwards

In 1 Timothy 3:14,15, Paul expresses a desire to soon see Timothy and also indicates the importance of the written word of God.  The apostle declares: "I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth."

When Paul wrote this epistle, Timothy was still in Ephesus.  And though Paul wanted to be there soon, he realized the need to send this instruction ahead for the brethren in that area, due to the possibility of being detained, as he indicates in verse 15.  

Today we live in a time when many religious people rely more on personal feelings than in what God's word declares -- though, in their own hearts, they often attribute those feelings to a conviction from the Holy Spirit.  But, sadly, those feelings have often misled the sincere into maintaining beliefs and practices that are actually not supported by the Scriptures and, therefore, contrary to the Holy Spirit.

And notice that Paul did not instruct Timothy to merely let the Holy Spirit miraculously give him the right feelings, compunctions, or impulses of what to do and what not to do; but, rather, Paul exhorted Timothy to look to the written word that he might know these things.  And that is what we must all continue to do in our time, lest we are led astray by our misdirected feelings or the feelings and thoughts of others that are not in harmony with the Scriptures.  As Paul shows in Ephesians 6:17, the word of God is "the sword of the Spirit."  So it is through that means that He can pierce the hearts of men with conviction concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (cf. John 16:8) and which can lead to salvation through the knowledge of, and obedience to, that truth (cf. Rom. 1:16; Acts 2:36-38).

It is also in this passage (1 Tim. 3:15) where we find the church referred to as the "house" (KJV) or the "household of God" (NASB).  These terms not only express Christians being a part of God's family, but also of the Lord dwelling with them as they abide in Him. For instance, according to 1 Peter 2:5, every Christian is a "living stone" in the temple of God.  Peter states, "you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."  And that God's people are His temple in which He dwells can be seen in 2 Corinthians 6:16: "Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, 'I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.'"

The chapter then closes in 1 Timothy 3:16 with Paul saying, "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."

The "He" in this verse is referring back to God.  And God was revealed in the flesh when Jesus took on a human body, which corresponds with John 1:1,14: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

E.M. Zerr refers to the term "God" as being a "family name, and that each member of the Deity or Godhead is entitled to the name."  Jesus, therefore, is God incarnate.  He existed prior to His entering this world as a babe.  For "...His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity" (Micah 5:2).  And though the earthly body of Jesus was about 6 months younger than that of John the Baptist's, John declares, concerning the Christ, "...'This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me'" (Jn. 1:15).  To some unbelieving Jews who said to Jesus, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?," the Lord responded, by saying, "...'Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am'" (Jn. 8:57,58).  So by becoming a man, yet retaining His Deity, Jesus revealed to the world what His Father in heaven is like.

Jesus was also "vindicated" or "justified" in the Spirit (1 Tim. 3:16).  Thayer shows the Greek word to mean secondly, "to show, exhibit, evince, one to be righteous..." and, thirdly, "to declare, pronounce, one to be just, [or] righteous...."  Of course, the Holy Spirit even went beyond that by showing that not only was Christ righteous, but also Deity, such as at the Lord's baptism when the Holy Spirit descended as a dove out of heaven and remained upon the Lord, thus indicating to John that Jesus was the Son of God (Jn. 1:32-34).  The Holy Spirit also bore witness to Christ through the miracles He performed (Jn. 10:37,38; 14:10,11), as well as the miracles His apostles performed in His name and by that same Spirit (cf. Acts 3:12-21).  In addition, through the Lord's resurrection, Jesus was declared to be the Son of God, "according to the Spirit of holiness" (Rom. 1:3,4).

Christ was also "seen by angels" (1 Tim. 3:16).  And what a wondrous sight that must have been for them as they beheld God's plan for salvation unfolding.  On the day that the baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem, it was angels who had informed shepherds in that region of that great event (Luke 2:6-20).  And following the Lord's 40-day fast, when He is was famishing and used Scripture to defeat Satan's temptations in the wilderness, Matthew 4:11 states, "Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him."

Perhaps an even more difficult time was when Jesus was praying so very fervently in the garden of Gethsemane.  The Bible says in Luke 22:44 that He was "in agony" and "His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground"; but notice verse 43: "Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him."  As James Burton Coffman points out: "...angels were extremely solicitous for our Lord's welfare, ever ready to do his will, and importantly identified with his earthly ministry. Angels announced his birth, warned Joseph to flee into Egypt, ministered to him in the wilderness, strengthened him in Gethsemane, rolled away the stone from his grave, announced his resurrection, escorted him to glory and prophesied his return in the Second Advent."  So, yes, Jesus was "seen by angels."

Jesus was also "proclaimed among the nations."  The KJV renders this as "preached unto the Gentiles."  For it was not to just the Jews that the gospel was to be taken, but to all those who were non-Jews as well -- the Gentiles.  God's word, therefore, is to be taught to people of every nation, regardless of race or nationality; and it is that gospel that can make us all one in Christ.

While on earth, the Lord did not want His apostles preaching to all the world.  Rather, He gave them the limited commission to go to only those of the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 10:5,6).  But after His death and resurrection, the Lord then gave them the "Great Commission" to "...'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.  He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved..." (Mark 16:15,16).  But, first, they were to wait in Jerusalem for the power of the Holy Spirit who would enable them to do this (Acts 1:4,5), and which occurred 10 days after the Lord's ascension.  

Paul wrote the Colossian letter around A.D. 60-62 (almost 30 years after the church was established); and notice what he declares in Colossians 1:23: "if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister."

The Lord was "believed on in the world" (1 Tim. 3:16).  Of all things that a person could believe in, what could be more important than this?  And as the Bible shows, true faith involves more than merely how we think; it also involves how we live.  For example, James states, "...show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works" (Jms. 2:28).  Works, obedience, submitting to God's commands are different ways of expressing what is needful for our faith to be a saving faith.  James also shows this in James 2:20, where he points out that "faith without works is useless"; and in verse 26, he calls that kind of faith "dead."  He also puts it this way: "You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone" (v. 24).  But all this believing and obeying needs to begin while we are in this world, which was one of the reasons that Jesus came to our planet -- that we might all come to believe in Him with that obedient faith that can save us from our sins, help us throughout our earthlife, and lead us to that ultimate goal of heaven, where Jesus is.  

For the chapter closes with the statement that Jesus was "Taken up into glory" (1 Tim. 3:16).  Though the Lord's resurrection was certainly an important day for Jesus; and, as we saw a moment ago, that very resurrection also confirmed Him to be the Son of God (Rom. 1:4), the Lord's ascension was also very essential, so that He could become our mediator, our great High Priest, our King of Kings and Lord of Lords at the right hand of God in glory. 

The account of His ascension is seen in Acts 1:9-11: "And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.  And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them.  They also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.'"

Several hundred years before this event, Daniel saw (in a vision from God) what happened after the cloud had prevented the apostles from seeing the Lord ascend any higher.  In Daniel 7:13,14, Daniel declares: "I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him.  And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed."  

The "Ancient of Days," of course, is the Father; and Jesus "came up to" Him.  

Notice also what the Lord received at that time: 1) dominion, 2) glory, and 3) a kingdom.  

As we think of the dominion Christ received, consider Ephesians 1:20-23.  Here, Paul speaks of what the Father brought about in Christ "...when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all."  Jesus says, "...'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth'" (Matt. 28:18).  God "...highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11).   Jesus is "the King of kings and Lord of lords" (Rev. 19:16).

And in thinking of the glory Christ received, how could He ever have received any more glory than what He did, by being so highly exalted to God's right hand, having received the preeminence over all (with the exception of the Father), and being back again in that glorious place called heaven?

Lastly, note the third thing that Christ received at His ascension: a kingdom.  Though the meaning of kingdom primarily refers to "1) royal power, kingship, dominion, rule. 1a) not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom 1b) of the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah...," it also means "2) a kingdom, the territory subject to the rule of a king" and "3) used in the N.T. to refer to the reign of the Messiah" (Thayer).  So those who have submitted to Christ's authority, His rule, are those who have become loyal subjects in His kingdom. We, therefore, read of Paul showing that Christians are those who have been delivered from Satan's kingdom and put into God's: "For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son" (Col. 1:13).  The apostle John says to Christians that Jesus "has made us to be a kingdom" (Rev. 1:6), and John himself acknowledges to them that he is not only their "brother," but also a "fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus" (v. 9).  We can also infer that if God's kingdom has not yet come, as some today believe, then we who are Gentiles cannot yet serve the Lord, according to Daniel 7:14.  For, again, that verse shows that Christ was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom "...That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him...."

Jesus came to this world and accomplished all that He was supposed to do (Jn. 8:29; Phil. 2:8; Jn. 19:30).  He revealed what the Father in heaven is like (Jn. 1:18; 14:7,9), came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), and made salvation possible for every sinner by His supreme sacrifice on the cross of Calvary (Heb. 10:4-14; Rom. 5:6-10).  Truly, how could we ever exaggerate on how great it is that Jesus came to our world to make redemption possible for each one us?  May we, therefore, always show that appreciation by our humble and faithful submission to His soul-saving word.


News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians be remembering the following people, and their families, in prayer:

* Tom Smitherman (Lee's father) who has been diagnosed with an aggressive prostate cancer; Bill Barfield (Linda Blevins' uncle) who is still at a rehab center; Pam MacDonald who has serious back trouble; Cheryl Crews who has chronic ailments; Shirley Young who suffers from fibromyalgia; and Jean Calloway who has health problems.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

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