1 Timothy 3:16b

Thursday, 21 December 2017

God was manifested in the flesh, 1 Timothy 3:16b

This may be one of the most contested lines of all in the New Testament. It either says, “God was manifested in the flesh,” or “He was manifested in the flesh.” The difference comes down to whether the Greek letters Ὃς (He who) are correct, or if it was Θεὸς. The possible reason for the difference would be a contraction of the word Θεὸς to Θς. The reason it cold be such a contraction is that if a word was contracted, a line would be placed above the letters to show it was a contraction. This occurs in some ancient manuscripts, but it then it is believed by some that the line was added later. Microscopic evaluations of the manuscripts have been made, but the controversy remains. And yet, it shouldn’t.

If this is “He who,” it is speaking of either God or Christ. Some versions simply say, “Christ was revealed” (NLT). This is because the following lines are obviously speaking of Christ. The question then comes down to whether the true reading is “God,” and thus it is an explicit reference to the Deity of Christ, or it is speaking of Christ, without any hint of a comparison to His divine nature. In the end, it really doesn’t matter, except to those who have a presupposition that Christ is not God. To anyone who simply picks up the Bible, and reads it without any presuppositions, it is as apparent as the rising of the sun on a clear day that Jesus is God incarnate, something implied in this verse, even if it says “He who.”

To say, “He who was manifested in the flesh,” implies that the Being in question preexisted; there was existence prior to His time in the flesh. Understanding that, and taking all of the rest of Scripture in proper context, the incarnation of God in human flesh is the only logical conclusion of what is being relayed. One must disregard countless references to the incarnation, both implicit and explicit which are found elsewhere, in order to say that the One being referred to is a created being.

This One existed, and then He appeared in the flesh of a human body. He is the One who was promised at the very fall of man in Genesis 3:15. He is the One anticipated thousands of times in the writings of the Old Testament. He is the One who is exactingly described by the authors of the gospels. He is the One explained time and again in the epistles, and who is the center of every theological explanation of what God has done in the stream of human existence. He is the One revealed in John’s apocalypse, the book of Revelation, who is worshiped and adored by the heavenly host. He is the One to whom the final sentence of Scripture is devoted. He is Jesus our God. The use of “God” or “He who” by Paul is important, but it is not at all necessary to determine Deity of the reference for the sound reader of Scripture. Those who come to this verse and who will then use it to argue against the Deity of Jesus Christ have already proven themselves biblically illiterate fools. Whether implicit or explicit, the truth remains that “God was manifested in the flesh.”

One thing is certain, the writers of the gospels and epistles all believed that Jesus is God. One, of countless examples of this, is to be found in Luke’s gospel. In Luke 8, we read the following –

Now the man from whom the demons had departed begged Him that he might be with Him. But Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 ‘Return to your own house, and tell what great things God has done for you.’ And he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.”

Jesus told the man to “tell what great things God has done for you.” Luke then explains how the man took this literally by speaking of the great things Jesus [meaning “God”] had done. This is not an isolated instance. The words of Scripture are clear. Jesus is God.

Life application: If you struggle with the Deity of Jesus Christ, you need reread the Bible without any presuppositions, praying first to God that He will reveal to you the truth of the matter. His Deity is so obviously referred to that you will literally overflow with notes pointing to this truth.

Your word, O Glorious God, tells us that You were manifest in the flesh in the Person of Jesus Christ. What a marvelous story of love! What an incredible story of glory. For those who saw and believed, how blessed they were. For those of us who have heard and believe, how much more blessed are we! And so we proclaim that Jesus is Lord, to Your glory. Amen.

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