The Mystery of the Incarnate God
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…

I. IN IT WE HAVE DISTINCTLY ANNOUNCED THE REDEEMER'S SUPREME AND ESSENTIAL DIVINITY. "God was manifested in the flesh." This is affirmed of Christ, of the Son.

II. THESE WORDS ANNOUNCE THE REDEEMER'S PERFECT MANHOOD. Flesh here means our common humanity. You need not be told that it does not mean corrupt human nature; nor yet does it mean the body as distinct from the spirit; but human nature in its entireness as distinct from the Divine nature. "For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren." He did not merely seem man, nor merely assume the human shape, as He did when He appeared to the patriarchs and prophets previous to His Incarnation; but He was really and truly man, having flesh and blood, and body and spirit, and every element and characteristic of our common humanity.

III. The third important doctrine announced in the text is, THE UNION OF TWO DISTINCT AND WIDELY DISSIMILAR NATURES IN ONE PERSON. "God was manifest in the flesh." The doctrine of Scripture plainly is, that He is perfect God and perfect Man in one Person. The two natures were united, not blended: the human nature could not absorb the Divine, nor did the Divine absorb the human.

IV. The text affirms, THAT THIS MYSTERIOUS PROCEDURE RESULTED IN A SPECIAL AND PECULIAR DISPLAY OF THE GODHEAD. "God was manifested in the flesh." It does not merely mean that Deity became incarnate in our nature; but that through this mysterious event and others which were consequent upon it, the will, nature, attributes, and character of Jehovah were especially unfolded to the world, and made palpable to human observation and intelligence. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." He is "the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His person." "God was in Christ"; and Christ is manifested God. The representation is accurate, full, perfect, and, in most condescending and attractive form, supplies the identical vision of paternal Deity. "I and My Father are one." Nor is the manifestation confined to earth. In the person and work of the God-man, Jehovah stands forth revealed to angels as well as to men. The manifestation is made on a higher stage, on a wider theatre, and before intelligence more penetrating and lofty. What a wonderful and condescending method to teach us how to look on God!

V. THE GREAT OBJECTS WHICH THIS MYSTERIOUS EVENT WAS DESIGNED TO ACCOMPLISH. They were doubtless such as call for these wonderful means, and as required and justified their adoption. The vast and mysterious display of condescension and love furnished by God manifest in the flesh would not be made to secure trifling ends, nor for purposes which might have been accomplished by means lest costly and extraordinary. The objects contemplated, in short, are infinitely important. "God was manifested in the flesh" to teach us the Divine will and character, — to furnish a perfect Example for our imitation; that He might die to make a full atonement for our sins; that He might make an ample provision for our pardon and sanctification; that He might become our faithful and merciful High Priest, our sympathizing Friend, and powerful Advocate with God: that He might destroy the works and power of the devil.

1. We learn from this subject, that the Saviour provided for us is pre-eminently suited to His office.

2. We learn from this subject how confidently we may commit ourselves to this Saviour, and trust in Him for acceptance and life.

(S. Lucas.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: Without controversy, the mystery of godliness is great: God was revealed in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, and received up in glory.

The Mystery of the Incarnate God
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