1 Timothy 3v14-16
1 Timothy 3:14-16.
- last time glossed over v.9 - what is this ”mystery of faith”? - talk today about a mystery, read about it in the passage today where it is called the “mystery of godliness”
- Timothy has been left in Ephesus with the responsibility of ensuring that the Ephesian church is soundly established. Paul hopes to come soon, Timothy standing in for him in the interim. So Paul gives instructions on how the church should be run and the essentials of the faith. If the apostle cannot do this orally, he will write.
- Paul always preferred face to face contact to indirect communication. Also Paul wanted to be involved in establishing the church and not leave it all in Timothy’s hands for there was strategic, vital, foundational work to be established in Ephesus.
- Paul probably never made it to Ephesus, was imprisoned and asked Timothy to come to him.
Verse 15: -key verse - tells the whole purpose of the letter, what 1st Timothy is all about?: how one ought to conduct oneself in the household of God.
- It is necessary for the church to know how to conduct itself - it cannot be run any old how, how we think fit. We cannot behave as seems right to us, we need to know what behaviour is fitting in the Church because the Living God dwells in it! A specific authority structure has been set in place - one which few churches carry out (eg in regard to toleration of false teaching, position and qualities of male overseers, appointment of servants with appropriate character and the role of women). Church order is vital ("it is necessary" - δεῖ ) - vital because the church has the role of upholding and thus preserving the truth, it is the church of the Living God! His house! It cannot be structurally flawed! If it is, it is not fit for God to dwell in and it will be unable to uphold the truth.
- "The church of the Living God" (the Body of Christ) is the pillar or column in the sense of the support holding up the roof of truth. It is also the ground or foundation of truth in that the Holy Spirit teaches the revealed truth of God (the Bible) only to believers, members of the true Church.
The church is God’ household - His home, where His family is, where He is at home.
- The world is fallen, in the control of the Liar, sin abounds, falsehood prevails, people live and believe a lie. What is upholding the truth? - the church! Once the church is taken there will be no restraint left, the whole corrupt system will collapse (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.)
The key role of the church is to uphold the truth in the midst of a corrupt world that rejects the Truth, Jesus Christ. See why Paul was concerned about good church govt, good leaders - the church must stay strong - if the pillar is crumbling (false teachers) there is no longer anything to support the truth. That is why we must contend earnestly for the faith, hold fast to the mystery of the faith
- pillar of truth: live the truth (3 John 3,4); speak the truth (Eph 4:15); manifest the truth (2 Cor 4:2); preach the truth (2 Tim 4:2)
- Paul had a consuming zeal that the truth be upheld at all costs - this precious truth Paul now outlines in v.16.
Verse 16: this is song from the 1st century church, one of the earliest Christian songs we know. Video of church in Madras, many illiterate sang old Scripture in song over and over. NT not available, truth taught through song. What doctrinal content compared with songs today. This verse refers to the basic body of Divine revelation made known in Scripture.
1. -The Mystery of godliness. It is avowedly "great" because it embraces God’s eternal plans and purposes in Christ centring in redeemed man. It involves a "mystery," i.e. revealed truth previously hidden but now made known, which still transcends man’s full comprehension. This mystery has its goal in godliness, that is, restoring lost mankind to a state of godlikeness where man is united to Christ and enabled to fellowship with and worship his Creator. Not just the mystery of God, mystery of God’s nature, of God Himself but also of how that nature is imparted to man. It centres in Christ!
- an unknowable secret revealed! - it cannot be apprehended by human understanding, it takes revelation by the Holy Spirit to gain insight into this mystery [1 Cor 2:6-16 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written,“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.” For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But have the mind of Christ]
- a mystery in the Bible is that which is unknowable now made manifest:.[ Rom 16:25,26 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;] - cf. Gnostic seeking to enter into the mystery.
The mystery is a person!- the nature of God made known in Jesus! [John 1:1,18 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God....No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.]
- God’s image returned to man! [Col 1:27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.] - the mystery is the nature of God Himself made known to and indwelling man.
2. -He appeared in the flesh. [1 Peter 1:20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you]
- Christ’s incarnation is asserted this implies His pre-existence. This great mystery, something so wonderful that we can never plumb its depths, consists of the incarnation of Jesus. God was revealed to us in the Man Christ Jesus - God took on human form! - Contracted to a span! “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail the incarnate Deity! Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Immanuel. Mild He lays His glory by, born that man no more may die...”
- God revealed in Jesus! [John 1:14 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]
- fully God, fully man! [Heb 2:14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; Colossians 1:19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him; Phil 2:6-8 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross;] - heresies either deny Christ’s humanity or His Divinity.Jesus appeared in the flesh i.e. He appeared on earth as a real man - the word it indicates the earthly existence of Jesus
3. -Was vindicated by the Spirit. [1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit] In contrast to "flesh" is "Spirit" by which Jesus was vindicated
- [Rom 1:4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord,]
(ἐδικαιώθη i.e. justified, declared righteous) - The Holy Spirit declared Jesus to be righteous by raising Him from the dead - demonstrating death had no claim on Him because He was sinless. Sin inevitably causes death (Rom 6:23; 1 Cor 15:56), for death to have no mastery and thus rise from the dead implies perfect righteousness
- so the Spirit by raising Jesus from the dead declared Him to be absolutely and perfectly righteous [John 14:30 for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me Romans 6:9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him .Romans 3:4 May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “That You may be justified in Your words, And prevail when You are judged.”]
- Resurrection asserted, death implied - for there to be a resurrection there has to be a death first.
4. -Was seen by angels.
- two angels at tomb but not sure that they saw Jesus -compare [John 20:17 Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’ ”] with [Luke 24:39 See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” ] - Jesus had been to heaven in the meantime declared His triumph!
- Jesus’ triumphal procession [Colossians 2:15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.]
-This manifestation of God in history disclosed new wonders even to angels. This mighty spiritual victory in the resurrection was witnessed in the spiritual realm [1 Peter 3:19 He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison,
Ephesians 3:9-12 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,]
- victory declared in the spiritual realm.
5. -Was preached among the nations.
- not only proclaimed to angels but to men.
- it is the heart of the Gospel (the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ 1 Cor 15:1-8) which has been proclaimed throughout the world [Romans 10:14-18 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, And their words to the ends of the world.”]- not just to the Jews but also to the Gentiles (the nations). - we’re used to this but that godliness could come to the godless heathen was a great mystery to the chosen people, the Jews!
- Gospel spread through the foolishness of preaching [1 Corinthians 1:21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.]- its a foolish thing to get up in the square and preach - we’ve thought of much more sensible ways: counselling, making friends, playing sport run non threatening social programs etc But God has chosen preaching as the way the Good News is to be spread, the way by which faith comes.
- universal Gospel even to godless heathen! [Gal 1:16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles; Ephesians 3:3-11 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ.]6. -Was believed on in the world.
- Th result of this proclamation of the Good News is that people believed and were thus saved [Romans 10:,11,13,17 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved...For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.”...“Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”...So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.]
- godliness comes to man! [Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 5:17; Eph 4:23,24 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.] - partakers of the Divine nature! What a great mystery!
7. -Was taken up into glory. [Mark 16:19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God]
- Following His resurrection and post-resurrection appearances Jesus ascended - returned to His Father in glory. Jesus having finished His work of redemption returned to the Father
- His mission accomplished! [John 13:3; 17:4,5; 19:28 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God,....4 I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. ...28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.”]- honoured by the Father! [Psalm 24:7-10 Lift up your heads, O gates, And be lifted up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in! Who is the King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O gates, And lift them up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in! Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory!][ Heb 2:9 But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honour, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone]
- in this song the doctrine of Christ’s pre-existence, incarnation, death, resurrection, triumph in the heavenlies, proclamation of the Gospel, the reward of His sufferings and His ascension and glorification. (A bit like “Lord I lift Your name on high).
- So the basic truth which the Church upholds is: the incarnation of Jesus; His resurrection; the testimony to it; and proclamation of it; and the faith consequent upon it; and His ascension into heaven.
- The One who became man returned to glory. He is from heaven and returned to heaven - the Son of God! This basic truth, the Gospel is to be upheld by the Church (cf. v.15). Yet the incarnation, the resurrection, Jesus’ Divinity, His ascension have been widely denied in many sectors of the church - this because they have not maintained the God ordained order within the church.
- Godliness is a great mystery, it is entirely contained and revealed in Jesus Christ! To Him be all the glory! [1 Corinthians 1:30,31 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”]