Great Gospel Texts: 1 Timothy 3:16

And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1Ti 3:16 KJV).

One of the great “3:16” verses of our Bible, this is lifted high by every local assembly heralding and holding the indivisible body of truth. From those heights in this doctrinal liturgy we also hear the gospel clearly sounding forth for all mankind!

It is fitting that it should all be heralded, held and heard – it’s a great revelation from God to all. The latter part of this verse is likely a poem or hymn well known by the early Church, which would explain why he uses it to support the emphatic statement in the early part of the verse. Believers in every location confessed with conviction and delight the Subject of this sacred song. A poem, perhaps, but for certain it is eternal, life-changing, divine truth regarding God’s only Son and His presentation through God’s glorious purposes. Here is a revelation from the infinite, eternal God Himself, but made perceptible and understandable to men. Here are desire and design for man to join God in the delights of His Son.

In unpacking this verse we find a program, a person and a proclamation. This program is great in scope and purpose, completely fulfilled and revealed through Jesus Christ, and earnestly and faithfully proclaimed to all. This magnificent mystery has been God’s focus and purpose before the ages of the world, and yet a precise program that He has revealed through this world of time and people. It is great and glorious, stretching from eternity and heaven through to time and earth. Its greatness also lies in the fact that it’s relevant for all, and, in fact, all will be impacted by this truth and this Person, Jesus Christ. Since it concerns Him, we find yet another reason why it indeed is great.

Further considering the central Subject of the verse, we understand He could only be Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Only the eternal Son could span those extremes when He became flesh and sojourned among us. Passing from heaven to earth, He retained all His holy divine essence, yet also moved authentically and sinlessly as a man in the world. This world initially made perfect by the word of His power has been marred by man’s awful sin, and mankind is currently motivated by ungodliness and programs opposed to God. We are told elsewhere that “the world was made by him, yet the world knew him not.” In fact, He was condemned and crucified on a cross at Calvary, but ultimately and appropriately vindicated in the sight of heaven and through His resurrection. His sacrificial offering at Calvary satisfied God’s righteousness and secured God’s offer of forgiveness and His great program of ultimate redemption.

Angels rejoiced in His exaltation and presence, and the world echoed with the proclamation of His love, sacrifice and salvation. To all in the world, the offer is sincere, the program is now clear, and this Savior is very near. God in glory delights in His Son, who perfectly fulfilled His will and even now extends the invitation for all to join Him. May this “3:16” continue to be heralded from every precious pillar! Great is the revealed program! Glorious is the risen Son! Gracious is the offer for “whosoever”!