These important words are from Paul to the young preacher Timothy. He says, “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” (Tim. 3:16). There are some things of which there is such evidence that they are “without controversy” or undeniably correct.
No one can successfully argue with a fact. Jesus calls on all of His disciples to unite upon His Word, that we may have unity (Jn. 17:20-21). Paul commanded all to speak “the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Cor. 1:10). Paul speaks here of just such facts. “Mystery” in the Bible refers to that which is concealed until it is revealed. There is nothing “mysterious” or unintelligible in the Bible! True, some Bible references demand more study to be understood (II Pet. 3:16). The confusion injected from men’s thinking does cause difficulty and destruction (Matt. 15:9; Rev. 22:18-19). But, all men can understand the Word of God. In our text, I Timothy 3:16, there are six elements in the “mystery of godliness.” Godliness here refers to the entire Gospel scheme or plan of salvation.
1. “God was manifest in the flesh” refers to the incarnation of Christ, which made Him both human and divine (Matt. 1:23; Jn. 1:14).
2. “Justified in the Spirit” refers to the Holy Spirit through the apostles vindicating Him from the charges of being an imposter! He is our redeemer sent from God (Acts 2:36-41).
3. “Seen of angels” suggests Heaven’s deep interest in His work, as angels attended Him (Lk. 2:9-13; Heb. 1:6).
4. “Preached unto the Gentiles” point to the glorious truth that the Old Law of Moses was removed and that the Gospel was to be preached to all mankind as being equal before God! (Mk. 16:15-16; Rom. 10:13).
5. “Believed on in the world” shows that wise men credited Christ with being the incarnate Son of God and Saviour of all who will obey Him (Heb. 5:8-9).
6. “Received up into glory” is another great truth of God’s scheme to save fallen man. Unlike any other, Jesus ascended back to Heaven as a crowning grandeur of His work of redemption.
Great is the revelation of God’s plan, by which all man can be saved. Have we obeyed?