1 Timothy 3:15-16 (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,
Advent season's true shining light is Jesus Christ. Thus let us take a few moments to see how Jesus shines forth in Advent from the six statements Paul makes about Christ's first coming in 1 Timothy 3:16. Jesus Christ shines forth in advent through...
The first three statements of Paul's reflection on Christ's first advent reads:
The word translated "manifested" here in the NKJV could just as easily be rendered "appeared" (NIV) and "revealed" (NASB). Quite literally the Person of the Son shined forth His glory through the taking on of a fully human nature by way of the virgin birth. The rendering of "He Who" (NASB, NIV, ESV) or "God" (KJV, NKJV) point back grammatically to the phrase "living God" of 1 Timothy 3:15. Quite literally the church of the Living God is the "Living God's Church" and this Living God is "God" ("He Who") was manifested in the flesh.
b. "Justified in the Spirit"
As Paul continues on in explaining to us how Jesus shines forth in His miraculous, virgin birth, He emphasizes the work the Spirit did in preserving the humanity of Jesus from sin. The NASB renders this word "vindicated", which gives the sense of the Holy Spirit bearing witness to all that the glory of the Son becoming man included Him being without sin.
c. "Seen by angels"
Nearly 20 times in the nativity accounts and Jesus' early life do we find mention of angelic involvement. Christ's miracle birth included the presence and activity of angels, further establishing the shining forth of His glory in His miracle birth in His Advent here on earth. But notice a second way in which Jesus shines forth His glory in the first advent, namely...
The fourth and fifth lines of Paul's reflection on Christ's first advent reads:
a. "Preached among the Gentiles"
As we explore this early Christian hymn included in 1 Timothy 3:16 by Divine inspiration, what must be recalled is that this is a summary of Jesus' advent in song. This particular phrase emphasizes the preaching of the Gospel, and could include the preaching of Jesus and the Apostles during his earthly ministry, as well as the 20 or so sermons recorded through the book of Acts. The word for "preached" gives the idea of making a formal announcement concerning the royal decree of a King. In this case the King is Jesus Himself, and the glory of His person is central to the message of the Gospel.
3. Massive Hope
The final line of Paul's reflection on Christ's first advent reads: "Received up in glory." Christ's virgin birth and incarnation summarize how he descended from heavenly glory to earth to accomplish His mission to save sinners, especially those who believe by grace through faith on Him. (1 Timothy 4:10) The wonder of this little hymn in 1 Timothy 3:16 is that it begins with glory and ends with glory. Christ, having accomplished what He set out to do in His first coming, ascends back up to assume His Kingship at the Father's right hand. Mark 16:19 records - "So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God" (NKJV).