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).
May 19, 2013
1) 1 Timothy 6:16-17 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
1 Timothy 6:16-17
by Tom Edwards
In speaking more of the Deity, Paul declares in 1 Timothy 6:16, "who
alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom
no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion!
In this doxology, Paul is not implying that man does not have a soul
that will never cease to exist -- for he does; and the
redeemed will also receive an immortal, glorified body when Christ
returns (cf. 1 Cor. 15:50-54; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). In the
account of the rich man and Lazarus, for example, when their mortal
bodies died, their souls went on -- one to Paradise, and the other
to torment (Luke 16:20-31). Neither ceased to exist. But
only the redeemed will enjoy eternal life in heaven. The lost,
however, will be so far removed from that "quality life" that hell
is referred to as the "second death" (Rev. 20:14) -- yet a continual
experience of "eternal punishment" (Matt. 25:46), where the torment
goes on "day and night forever and ever" (Rev. 20:10).
Therefore, the continual existence of the soul is not in itself what
the Bible emphasizes as immortality; but, rather, it is having that
"life" that Jesus came to give "abundantly" (Jn. 10:10) and which
will be ultimately enjoyed in heaven. For the soul of man has
been created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), and God is Spirit (Jn.
4:24); but every accountable person has become spiritually "dead"
because of his or her own sin (Eph. 2:1) and, thus, needs to be made
spiritually "alive" in Christ (v. 5) through obedience to the
gospel, which includes being raised from the water of baptism "...so
we too might walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). Jesus says,
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I
give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one
shall snatch them out of My hand" (Jn. 10:27,28). So the
Lord's sheep do not merely "hear," but they also "follow," which
expresses their faithful adherence to God's word. This
abundant spiritual life is the immortality that God alone possesses
and not only can bestow, but also wants to, and which will be
ultimately enjoyed in heaven, if we will simply submit to His word
while here on earth. And for heaven, the Christian will also
be given an immortal, imperishable body adapted for it (cf. 1Cor.
15:50-53). So that is something He does not yet have.
Thayer defines the Greek word for immortality (athanasia) as
"undying, immortality, everlasting." And though God and we
will never cease to exist, yet God has always been, while we had a
beginning -- just like all of creation. Micah refers to Jesus
as One whose "goings forth are from long ago, from the days of
eternity" (Mic. 5:2). In the thought of God "who alone
possesses immortality," think, too, of Isaiah's prophesy that Jesus
would be called "Eternal Father" (Isa. 9:6). This is
definitely a figurative phrase. For Jesus is not the Father in
relation to the Godhead. Rather, He is the Son. So in
what sense would Christ be the "Father"? "Eternal Father" can
be better understood as "the Father of eternity" -- and "Father" in
the sense that Jesus is being attributed as being the one who has
made eternity possible. For He is the creator of all things (Jn.
1:1-3). So this expression exalts the superiority of Christ
over even eternity -- that Jesus is not merely a part of eternity,
but eternity is because Jesus is! It is His possession!
Paul shows that the Lord dwells in "unapproachable light." The
Psalmist speaks of God as "Covering Yourself with light as with a
cloak, stretching out heaven like a tent curtain" (Psa.
104:2). God doesn't need the sun and stars in order to have
light, and the saved will never have need of light bulbs in heaven,
nor "...have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun,
because the Lord God shall illumine them..." (Rev. 22:5).
During the middle of the day, Paul experienced "a light from heaven"
that was "brighter than the sun," when he met the Lord on the road
to Damascus (Acts 26:13). That he was made blind by this light
(until miraculously healed by Ananias a few days later) might cause
us to think of 1 Corinthians 15:50-53, in which Paul points out the
need for the mortal to put on the immortal, so the redeemed will
have bodies suited for heaven. For "flesh and blood cannot
inherit the kingdom of God" (v. 50), and it appears as if that light
from heaven was too much for Paul's mortal eyes.
In 1 Timothy 6:16, Paul speaks of God as being One whom "no man has
seen or can see." Though men saw Jesus' earthly body, they
never saw His true heavenly glorified state. For that state He
gave up to be born in Bethlehem (cf. Phil. 2:6-8). The
apostle John also writes that "No one has seen God at any time; the
only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has
explained Him" (Jn. 1:18). Similarly, we also don't actually
see the wind. Instead, we see what it does. And God's
divine attributes have been revealed through Jesus Christ: For
"...He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of
His nature..." (Heb. 1:3). This is why Jesus was able to say
"If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also..." (Jn.
14:7); and "...He who has seen Me has seen the Father..." (v.
9). Jesus is "the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of
all creation" (Col. 1:15). God is also spoken of as being
"invisible" in 1 Timothy 1:17.
Paul then says in 1 Timothy 6:17, "Instruct those who are rich in
this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the
uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all
things to enjoy." It appears from this that wealth can make
some people arrogant. Of course, it takes more than wealth to
do that. Rather, it is primarily due to the type of
person. Joseph of Arimathea, for example, was a wealthy man
who provided the burial tomb for Jesus, which had been cut out of a
rock (so was probably very expensive). And he is described as
having been "a good and righteous man...who was waiting for the
kingdom of God" (Luke 23:50,51). Also, the patriarch Job, that
man of great patience, had been a wealthy man. He had
possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female
donkeys, and "very many servants" (Job 1:3). The same verse
also states that Job "was the greatest of all the men of the
east." Yet, he was also the one whom the Lord refers to as
being ranked above all others in true spirituality. God says
of him to Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job? For
there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man,
fearing God and turning away from evil" (v. 8). In his latter
days, Job became even twice as wealthy -- and it was God who made
that possible: "And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more
than his beginning, and he had 14,000 sheep, and 6,000 camels, and
1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys" (Job
Though I don't think Job would have had this problem, could it be
that some wealthy people wrongly assume they are more spiritual than
the poor, merely based on financial differences? There are
those today who preach and teach what is called the "gospel of
perfect health and perfect wealth," which means that if you are a
faithful Christian, then you should always be in the best of health
and have an abundance of material prosperity.
This seems to have been the belief that three of Job's friends
had. They felt very strongly that the main reason for all of
Job's great misfortune and suffering was because of sin in his
life. But one's health and prosperity -- or lack therefore --
cannot always be equated with one's true spirituality.
Compare, for example, Revelation 3:17-19: "Because you say, 'I am
rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,' and you do
not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and
naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you
may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself,
and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye
salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. Those whom I love, I
reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent."
These Laodiceans had actually become "lukewarm" -- or indifferent --
toward God (v. 16).
If one's spirituality would be determined by one's health, then what
would you say of Timothy? He had stomach problems and
"frequent ailments" (1 Tim. 5:23). Yet, Paul says of him that
"...I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be
concerned for your welfare. For they all seek after their own
interests, not those of Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:20,21). Timothy
was a faithful Christian.
Also Epaphroditus. He had been "sick to the point of death"
(Phil. 2:27) -- so he couldn't get any sicker than that! Yet,
notice what kind of man he was, according to verse 30. Here
Paul states about him, "because he came close to death for the work
of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your
service to me." And the "because" in this verse refers back to
verse 29 where Paul exhorts the Philippians to "receive
[Epaphroditus]...in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in
high regard." So Epaphroditus was also a very dedicated
follower of Jesus Christ -- even risking his life to do so -- yet he
had undergone a major illness.
Another good example of this is in Luke 16:20-31 of the case of the
rich man and the poor and crippled beggar Lazarus. Where did
these men end up when they died? The rich man went to torment,
but Lazarus went to Paradise. Of course, their eternal
destinations were not based on whether they were rich or poor.
Notice also in 1 Timothy 6:17 that phrase, "the uncertainty of
riches." This often reminds me of Solomon's instruction: "Do
not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of
it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth
certainly makes itself wings, Like an eagle that flies toward the
heavens" (Prov. 23:4,5). Think, for example, of the wealthy
who had lost virtually everything they had because of the stock
market crash in the 1930's. In just a short time, their
financial investments were all gone -- as if they flew away with
wings. This is just one of the reasons why we should not fix
our hope on riches -- because of its uncertainty. The
Psalmist, therefore, gives the following exhortation: "...if riches
increase, do not set your heart upon them" (Psa. 62:10). And,
as we saw recently in 1 Tim. 6:9, "...those who want to get rich
fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful
desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction."
Rather than trusting in riches, our trust is to be in God -- and
always. The psalmist declares, "On God my salvation and my
glory rest; The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us..." (Psa. 62:7,8). Isaiah certainly
looked to God that way: "Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust
and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He
has become my salvation" (Isa. 12:2). Isaiah also gives this
following exhortation: "The steadfast of mind Thou wilt keep in
perfect peace, Because he trusts in Thee. Trust in the LORD
forever, For in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock" (Isa.
Note what else Paul shows about the Lord in 1 Timothy 6:17.
God "richly supplies us with all things to enjoy." God truly
wants us to be able to enjoy life. Compare Acts 14:17: "and
yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good
and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your
hearts with food and gladness." Have you ever given much
thought to all the numerous herbs and seasonings that the Lord
has also provided us with? The right seasonings can often
enhance the flavor of a meal. It appears that God was even mindful
of that for our enjoyment.
In both the Old and New Testaments, we can read of instructions to
rejoice in the Lord. Paul says, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I
will say, rejoice" (Phil. 4:4)! Paul also gave this
instruction to the Thessalonians in just two words: "Rejoice always"
(1 Thess 5:16). The dictionary defines the word "rejoice" as
"to feel joy or gladness; take delight" (in or at something)"
(Random House Webster's College Dictionary). If we are truly
rejoicing, then we are enjoying life. And since we are to
rejoice always than we should continually have an inner joy -- and
another reason for that is because "joy" is a fruit of the Spirit
(Gal. 5:22). This is not to say that we never have sorrow; but
even during mournful times, God can give us that glimmer of hope,
that reassuring comfort, and that needed encouragement that helps us
to keep looking to Him -- even when we are sorrowful. Think,
for instance, of the believer who is undergoing a crisis. His
world is turned upside down; his dreams have been shattered; his
heart is filled with grief; yet in his sorrow and despair, he knows
that the Lord will somehow see him through this difficult time --
and, in that, he senses a joy and comfort in his connection with the
Almighty God Himself.
So let us do as Paul instructs: to honor God, realizing his eternal
dominion, and to put our complete trust in Him "...who richly
supplies us with all things to enjoy" (1 Tim. 6:16-17).
News & Notes
Let those of us who are Christians be remembering the following
people in prayer:
Janice Webb (Anthony's mother) will be having surgery May 28
on her thyroid, due to a lump. If it turns out to be
malignant, then the thyroid on the other side will also be removed.
On June 21, Penny Foley (Jackson Moon's great aunt) will be
having surgery to remove a tumor in her leg.
Virginia Fontenot has been in some pain while dealing
with stage 4 cancer and receiving chemo treatments that has been
difficult for her. She has had to take pain medication every
Jean Calloway, who suffered a cardiac arrest on May 8, is
still in the hospital, undergoing some therapy and has been making
some improvement. She is to return home June 10, will continue
with dialysis three times a week, and will also be receiving
long-term care and Home Health.
Cindy Crews will be having additional surgery, due to breast
Linda Blevins, who has been diagnosed with bilateral renal
artery stenosis, also was correct in her own diagnosis of having an
additional kidney stone problem. She also has hydronephrosis
and recently had some more tests run.
Ashley Robertson Walters was recently hospitalized for a
kidney stone, but is now back home -- though at last report, the
stone was still with her.
Becky Robertson recently had to have a shot for tendinitus in
her left hand and will need to wear a brace for a few weeks.
Pam MacDonald is still healing from her recent back surgery
that required adding 16 pieces of metal to her spinal column.
All went well.
Bill Barfield (Virginia's brother) is now being weened off a
ventilator, though they will keep the CPAP on him for continuous
airway pressure. He has been in a few different hospitals
continuously since March 2012.
* Let us also be remembering the following
in prayer: Tom
Smitherman (Lee's father) who has been diagnosed with an
aggressive prostate cancer; Cheryl Crews who has
some chronic ailments; and Shirley Young who suffers from
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) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts
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.
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can
be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
(Gospel Observer website)