"THE FIRST EPISTLE TO TIMOTHY"
The Great Mystery Of Godliness (3:16) INTRODUCTION 1. Paul wrote to Timothy regarding proper conduct "in the house of God" - 1 Tim 3:15 a. Which is "the church of the living God" b. Which is "the pillar and ground of the truth" -- I.e., the church supports the truth that has been revealed through the apostles 2. The truth supported by the church is described as "the mystery of godliness" - 1Ti 3:16 a. A mystery is described as "great" b. Its greatness is described as "without controversy" -- Evidently Paul sought to inspire proper conduct by reference to this "mystery" [What is "The Great Mystery Of Godliness"? Perhaps by understanding it, we too will be inspired to proper conduct as members of the family of God. Toward that end, let's first examine...] I. THE GREATNESS OF THE MYSTERY A. THE MEANING OF "MYSTERY"... 1. The Grk. word is musterion, meaning "hidden thing, secret, mystery" - Thayer 2. "In the NT it denotes, not the mysterious (as with the Eng. word), but that which, being outside the range of unassisted natural apprehension, can be made known only by Divine revelation, and is made known in a manner and at a time appointed by God, and to those only who are illumined by His Spirit." - Vine 3. "In the ordinary sense a 'mystery' implies knowledge withheld; its Scriptural significance is truth revealed." - ibid. -- In the NT, it refers to that which had been hidden, but is now made known by Divine revelation B. THE REVELATION OF THE MYSTERY... 1. What was hidden has now been made known through the apostles and prophets a. It could not be discovered by human wisdom alone - 1Co 2: 7-10 b. It required Spirit-filled men (apostles) to reveal them - 1Co 2:-16 c. Written that we might understand - Ep 3:1-5 d. That Gentiles might also be fellow heirs of God's promises - Ep 3:6-9 e. Made known for the benefit of all nations - Ro 16:25-26 2. What has been revealed still defies description at times a. It was beyond man's ability to foresee - Ro 11:33-36 b. Some elements may be beyond full comprehension (e.g., God in the flesh, see below) -- Thus there are spiritual truths that God has revealed that we might know, though some may challenge our understanding [The "mystery" now revealed pertains to "godliness" (1Ti 3:16). "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." (Barnes) As we continue, we note that it centers around the coming of Jesus Christ...] II. THE GREATNESS OF GODLINESS A. GOD IN THE FLESH... 1. Jesus' coming was Deity in the flesh! a. Proclaimed in the prologues of John - Jn 1:1-5,14; 1Jn 1: 1-4 b. Proclaimed in the epistles of Paul - Php 2:5-6; Col 2:9 2. Notice the name "Immanuel" (God with us) a. Foretold in Isaiah's prophecy - Isa 7:14; 9:6 b. Explained in Matthew's gospel - Mt 1:22-23 -- The coming of Jesus in the flesh was God working to reconcile man back to Himself; isn't that great? - 2Co 5:18-19 B. JUSTIFIED IN THE SPIRIT... 1. "Justified" - as used here, it means "to vindicate" a. Was Jesus vindicated in or by the Holy Spirit? (cf. NKJV, KJV, NIV, NASB) b. Or was He vindicated in His own spirit? (cf. ASV, NRSV) 2. "in the Spirit" - shown to be the Son of God by the agency of the Holy Spirit (Barnes) a. E.g., the Spirit bore witness at Jesus' baptism - Mt 3:16; Jn 1:32-33 b. E.g., Jesus cast out demons by the Spirit - Mt 12:28 c. The Spirit continued to bear witness to Jesus through the signs and wonders given to the apostles - cf. Jn 15:26; 16: 13-14; He 2:4; 1Jn 5:6 3. "in (the) spirit" - vindicated as divine 'in His Spirit,' that is, in His higher nature; in contrast to 'in the flesh,' His visible human nature (JFB) a. E.g., His words manifested His higher being - Mt 7:29; Jn 7:46 b. E.g., His works also - Jn 2:11; 3:2 c. E.g., His Father's testimony as well - Mt 3:17; 17:5 d. Ultimately, declared to be the Son of God by His resurrection - Ro 1:3-4 -- Either way, Jesus was certainly vindicated as the Son of God! C. SEEN BY ANGELS... 1. Angels who previously marveled at what was to come a. The suffering and glory of Christ foretold by OT prophets - 1Pe 1:10-12 b. Which the angels desired to look into - 1Pe 1:12b 2. When Jesus came, angels saw and ministered unto Him a. After His temptation by the devil in the wilderness of Judea - Mt 4:11 b. During His agony in the garden of Gethsemane - Lk 22:43 -- The angels also attended His ascension, and will accompany His return! - Ac 1:9-11; 2Th 1:7 D. PREACHED AMONG THE GENTILES... 1. This was the purpose of the Great Commission - Mt 28:19; Mk 16:15 a. Fulfillment began with the conversion of Cornelius - Ac 11: 15-18 b. It was the ministry Jesus gave to Paul - 2Ti 1:11 2. This is an important element of the "mystery" now revealed a. That Gentiles should be fellow heirs, partakers of the promise - Ep 3:3-6; cf. 2:11-22 b. Paul felt blessed to preach to the Gentiles - Ep 3:7-9 -- The grace of preaching the riches of Christ to Gentiles continues to this day! E. BELIEVED ON IN THE WORLD... 1. Not all believed, but many did a. Some of His own people did not receive Him - Jn 1:11 b. Many of His own people did - Ac 2:41-42; 4:4; 5:14; 6:7 c. Where some did not, many Gentiles did - Ac 13:43-49 2. Why is it so great that Jesus was believed on in the world? a. Because the gospel is foolishness to many people - 1Co 1:18 b. Because to many, Christ crucified is a stumbling block - 1Co 1:23 -- Even today, countless multitudes believe in Jesus around the world - amazing! F. RECEIVED UP IN GLORY... 1. His ascension foretold in prophecy a. Prophets spoke of the glories to follow His suffering
- 1 Pe 1:10-11; Lk 24:25-26 b. One such prophesy is the vision of Daniel - Dan 7:13-14 2. His ascension and glory that followed described in the NT a. Jesus ascended and was received up into heaven - Ac 1:9-11; Mk 16:19 b. He sat down at the right hand of God, with all authority - Mk 16:19; Ep 1:20-23 -- Thus Jesus received the answer to His prayer - cf. Jn 17:1,4-5 CONCLUSION 1. This mystery of godliness does not end with Jesus being received in glory... a. For He will one day come again in glory! - Mt 16:27 b. Those raised with Christ will appear with Him in glory! - Col 3: 1-4; 2Th 1:9-10 -- Have you been raised with Christ in baptism? - cf. Col 2:12 2. From beginning to end, the mystery of godliness is great...! a. The Divine intervention into the world of sinful men b. The Divine grace offered through such intervention -- Are you letting the revealed "mystery" motivate proper conduct? - cf. 1Ti 3:15 Receive the grace of God in such a way as to conduct yourself properly in the family of God while waiting for the Lord's coming in glory...! - cf. Tit 2:11-14