1 Timothy 3:16 is often quoted as God manifesting in the flesh of Jesus Christ. The New Testament affirms the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Jesus Christ bodily (Col 2:9), however this is not the focal point of 1 Timothy 3:16. A closer look at each line of the verse can bring us to its true meaning; God manifesting in the flesh of believers!
Let us look …
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness
“godliness, denotes character and conduct determined by the principle of love or fear of God in the heart” (Int’l Standard Bible Encyclopedia).
God was manifest in the flesh
The word “Manifest” is the Greek word “phaneroo” which means; “Appear or Show”. It is used 58 times in the KJV version with the primary meaning of “appearing or showing” something.
Justified in the Spirit
Believers are justified!
Seen of angels
Angels took a special interest in the Gospel when it was preached by those whom the Holy Ghost had fallen (Peter 1:12).
Preached unto the Gentiles
Believers preached to the Gentiles after the resurrection. Jesus was clear about his mission during his time on earth and it did not include the Gentiles (Matt 15:24). He warned his disciples not to preach to the Gentiles (Matt 10:6).
Believed on in the world
Jesus was rejected by his own during his ministry on earth. It was after his resurrection he was believed on in the world!
Received up into glory
Jesus was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God (Matt 16:19), believers are also raised up and made to sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:6), and (Col 3:1).
The message of 1st Timothy 3:16!
The context of the 3rd chapter of Timothy is about godliness and the conduct of believers!
The great mystery of 1st Timothy 3:16 is God manifesting in the flesh of believers who live out godly lives!
This passage is not the only one that speaks of manifesting in the flesh of believers …
“For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2nd Corinthians 4:11).