Online Bible Commentary
Jesus is God
1 Timothy 3:14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly;15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory. (NKJV)
The letter of 1 Timothy is part of what is known as the Pastoral Epistles. The other two Pastoral Epistles are 2 Timothy and Titus.
The Apostle Paul wrote this letter about AD 63 to Timothy who was ministering at the church in Ephesus. It is believed that this was Paul’s first, of four, letters using a new scribe (an amanuensis), Luke (2 Timothy 4:11).
It is likely that Paul wrote this letter from Philippi, in Macedonia, after dropping Timothy off at Ephesus on the way (1 Timothy1:3). Other possible places of writing are Spain or Hierapolis, Greece.
This letter is a personal letter from one minister to another. Ministers typically relate differently to other ministers than they would to others. Therefore, this letter is different than Paul’s previous letters to churches.
It is also different in that Luke’s style of writing is more classical Greek than that of previous amanuensis’. Luke had more and more influence on Paul’s writings, especially his last two, 2 Timothy and Hebrews.
During the time of these last two letters Paul was living in squalid conditions at Mamertine Prison in Rome. We believe that he needed to rely more heavily on Luke because of Paul’s terrible living conditions at the time.
At the time of this writing, Timothy was trying to resolve some problems in the church at Ephesus. The problems consisted of false teaching running rampant, in Ephesus especially. This letter was sent to restore worship order in the churches, specifically addressing the problems of which Paul had heard.
In the previous passages Paul established qualifications for overseers (leaders, pastors), and for deacons, those who serve in the church. Now, he establishes behaviors for all Christians in the church.
Paul begins this passage by writing “These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly” (v. 14). Paul “hoped” to come to Timothy in Ephesus after a time.
Presently, he is receiving some tender loving care by some of his favorite people at the church in Philippi, perhaps his favorite church. The two years of house arrest in Rome had taken a toll on Paul, as we could imagine.
Although, Paul wishes to go to Ephesus it appears that he did not make it. He stayed on in Philippi writing the letter to Titus and then was arrested a second time by Nero.
Paul continues “but if I am delayed” (v. 15a). Here, he seems to be saying that he intends to stay awhile and write the letter to Titus. He may even have a concern of a second arrest.
Next, he writes “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God” (v. 15b). At this point, he is explaining the purpose of this passage and the previous passages in this chapter. The purpose is that church leaders and the congregation know how they are to conduct themselves in the church.
Paul then gives a description of the church when he writes “which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (v. 15c). God is indeed alive and well in the presence of Jesus Christ and the Father in Heaven and the Holy Spirit doing the work of God on earth.
The church is the “pillar and ground of truth”. The pillar supports the foundation of a building, the ground. In the same way, the church supports the truth of the Gospel. The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ.
Also, in those times a pillar was sometimes erected in the town square in order that proclamations to the public could be posted upon it. The church, in the same way as the pillar, proclaims the truth of the Gospel.
Paul completes this passage with a proclamation of his own regarding “the mystery of Godliness” when he writes “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness” (v.16a). There is no doubt, “no controversy”, about the “Godliness” of Jesus Christ.
The fact that Jesus is God is described by the Biblical truth called the Trinity. The Trinity teaching is that there is One God revealed in Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Paul then writes the proof text of the Godliness of Christ when he writes “God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory” (v. 16b).
Jesus was “manifested in the flesh”. He came from Heaven to earth and took on “flesh”. He is God Incarnate, wholly man and wholly God at the same time.
Jesus was “Justified in the Spirit”. This is a reference to His death, burial and resurrection. He was declared righteous by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus was “Seen by angels”. This is a reference to His ascension back to Heaven.
Jesus was “Preached among the Gentiles”. This is a reference to the “Mystery of the Gospel”, that the Messiah came to earth to be the God of all people and not just the Jews.
Jesus was “Believed on in the world”. This is a reference to the church age, which began with His Ascencion and will end with the Rapture.
Jesus was “Received up in Glory”. This is a reference to His Asension and the Rapture, when all Christians will be caught up in the air with Jesus when He returns.
Jesus is, indeed, God. There is no doubt.